Picture: Gayatri with her children and the small canteen in the background.
I-taukei have land and if you are lazy and not make use of it, then you will not achieve anything.
Those are the words of wisdom of Gayatri Mala Vocea, 35, who lives in Nacobo Village, Lovoni, on the island of Ovalau in the Lomaiviti Group.
“Farming is good because it can keep you healthy at the same time, women can help provide food on the table,” she said.
Gayatri’s husband is from Nacobo Village and she has been living there for the last two years with her four children. She on the other hand, hails from Dreketi, Vanua Levu.
Speaking a mixture of i-taukei and English but mostly i-taukei, she said she moved to Nacobo, after her mother-in-law became sick and they went to help look after her.
In that time, she managed to start a little farm of her own growing corn and vegetables, especially those that are consumed by Fijians of Indian descent, such as bitter gourd (karela), Sponge gourd (toroi), and Okra (bhindi).
It is interesting to note that Gayatri stands out not only due to her lineage and living in an i-taukei village, but also that she is industrious and is able to identify what type of vegetables she should grow that will sell fast. Hence, the reason she has targeted the particular vegetables consumed by Fijians of Indian descent.
Due to her vegetable farm, she was assisted by the Ministry of Agriculture with a rotovator to till her land as part of her land preparation before farming.
“Women do not need to rely on their husbands, they can also find ways to provide for their families especially their children,” she said.
She was also recognized during the Ovalau/Motoriki Day and was awarded farming implements that helped her in her farm.
At the moment, her vegetable farm is at a standstill after the latest cyclone of TC Ana destroyed her crops. But, that has not deterred her from continuing her farm and will do so, as soon as the weather clears up.
Gayatri is industrious because she also creates art and craft, has just started her livestock farming, with three goats, and does a bit of sewing as well.
The art and craft she dabbles in includes making artificial frangipani flowers and selling these to PAFCO ladies, and artificial picture frames.
She explained that her artificial flowers was always sold out especially during the festive season, as many ordered for their kala-vata wear.
Gayatri also operates a small canteen from her home. Again, she says she tries out all sorts of income-generating activity for the sake of helping put food on the table for her children and family.
Gayatri was assisted under the Ministry of Agriculture’s Extension Services and COVID-19 Home Gardening Seeds Distribution Program.