Picture : Mr Netani Vuetimaiwasa Kuila (left) the Ginger Farmer of the Year Award winner for 2020 Central Eastern Agriculture Show.
The Agriculture Sector continues to record its positive and upward trend following the recent release of the 2019 National Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by the Fiji Bureau of Statistics.
Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy said the official release once again demonstrated the sector’s significant role to growing the Fijian economy.
“It’s fantastic news indeed to know that the agriculture sector achieved positive growth in 2019 compared to 2018.
“Agriculture was identified as one of the industries that contributed positively to economic growth, unfortunately, it together with other sectors were not enough to compensate for the declines recorded in others,” he said.
Netani Kuila knows firsthand what it feels like to have his pleas lend on deaf ears, and to ask but receive naught in return.
His humble beginnings taught him perseverance and fueled his determination to succeed, no matter how long it would take; success which inevitably would come his way.
“I know how it feels like to knock and receive no answer, to implore yet fail to receive recognition, to lean and ask for assistance but to get nothing in return.”
Mr. Kuila, who hails from Vanuavatu in Lau inherited land from his namesake and father, Netani Kuila Snr in 2004 after his father handed over the reins of the farm to him. He soldiered on despite many shortcomings, a life lesson which his children have learnt by watching their father toil through his many struggles.
“Everything belonged to my father, and as he grew older, he handed us the responsibilities of managing the three farms. 80% of which was crops with 20% poultry,” he said.
The commercial farm is a farm operated by the Kuila family household, inclusive of Mr. Netani’s siblings and their respective children, who all work towards a common goal; “When it comes to harvesting and planting, the family all come together in unity to achieve what is required.”
Ginger has been the family’s mainstay commodity since the farms’ establishment in Waibau and in 2010 the family diversified to poultry.
“The price of ginger price was not getting any better and we thought to venture into something that could complement our income during rainy days and that’s when we thought to take up poultry farming,” said Netani Jnr.
They purchased land in Bau Road, Nausori, which was solely for their poultry farm, with five poultry sheds operating there to meet the supply and demand component expected of them from their main target market - Goodman Fielder.
“Our expansion and diversification was all made possible from the ginger income and every year we would be advised to invest into something solid,” he said.
Before the 2010 diversification, the family bought 30-acres of land in Wailase to support the production of ginger. The 2020 harvest saw the family harvesting 16 tonnes of ginger, an accumulated total from both their Wailase and Waibau farms.
“The 2020 harvest has been the highest compared to the ginger harvested for the last 16 years and we owe it all to the family for their combined effort,” he said.
In 2017, the family paid off their loan to the Fiji Development Bank, all through income earned from the ginger and poultry farm income, a large percentage of which was derived from the annual ginger income takings of approximately $45,000.00 - $50,000.00 earned on an annual basis.
“We couldn’t have achieved all of this had it not been for my father, he has set such a high farming standard for us to achieve and it is this standard that we live by every day, it cannot be altered, the farming operation is well structured.
His goodwill to help farmers and those who are often turned down extended when COVID-19 pandemic hit the global economy by keeping all his staff on the farm and helping farmers that needed help.
“It may seem like we have money in the bank but it is the well-structured farming management that has managed us to pay it all off and to purchase items for the poultry sheds with cash,” he said.
“Although assistance was not awarded to us despite our constant requests, we kept moving forward, we kept planting, we kept harvesting, and we kept achieving the goals that we set to achieve every year,” he said.
Good things often come to those that wait and work in silence and it earned him the award of Best Ginger Farmer during the 2020 Central/Eastern Agriculture Show held at Syria Park in Nausori from the 15th-16th October 2020.
“Working to feed the nation and contributing to the Gross Domestic Product of the country is what we are happy to do and receiving the prize is a testament to the hard work my family endures.
“As I once said I know how it feels like to knock on doors that are not answered, I know how it feels like to be challenged and told I couldn’t do it and it often hurts us to see those that are assisted not flourish because of the lack of knowledge of the land and how its resources could be utilized,” he said.
“Manage your time wisely, invest in something that will generate income, and try all areas of help that you can get, and an important detail to note is that wise financial management is of the essence.”