Picture: The children of Inoke Drawe of Tamavuai-i-cake.
The backyards of a vast majority of households, particularly in locked-down areas, have been turned into home gardens and plots.
This follows the continued distribution of home gardening seeds to Fijian households by the Ministry of Agriculture, with families taking time out to utilize the available piece(s) of land within their property to plant vegetable seeds to ensure their food security.
A family in Tamavua-i-cake is grateful for the initiative as it had brought them closer together as a family during this challenging time. Mr. Inoke Drawe welcomed the home gardening program as his children had shown enthusiasm to put the program to good use.
“Since they’re on a long school break and were on lockdown, I decided to take them to plant vegetables in our backyard,” he said.
“Introducing them to this will help them physically as they will be drawn away from gadgets that have captured their attention,” he said.
Before receiving their seeds, the family had initially prepared their plots but due to the strict COVID-19 restrictions put in place, they did not manage to get their hands on vegetable seeds from the shops.
“We are grateful that the Ministry came up with the initiative, we have been waiting for the shops in town to open so we could make the journey to purchase our seeds,” he said.
“This assistance came just at the right time and my children are looking forward to learning techniques and ways on how to plant each vegetable seed.”
The Ministry of Agriculture staff in collaboration with the Fiji Police Force distributed home gardening seed packs to families and communities in the lock-down zones recently.
For Namadi Heights resident Kiran Lal, although there was limited space to plant, all the family had looked forward to was planting the vegetable seed. “It will be hard in the future going to the market to purchase vegetables should the pandemic continue and these vegetable seed packs that we’ve been given will help feed us,” she said.
“Although there is not enough piece of land since we are renting, we have looked up ways using ice-cream containers, bottles, and other used materials in the house to plant our vegetables.”
Vatuwaqa resident Kitione Tagi, a hotel worker who lost his job said the vegetable seeds have been feeding his family.
“We were recipients of the first distribution of seeds from the Ministry when the pandemic started and I had just gotten laid off from work,” he said.
“Getting food for my family of 3 children got hard and these seeds that we planted gave us meals and we are grateful that it is coming again because through it we can get a healthy meal from our backyard and not have to worry about buying vegetables from the market.”
Meanwhile, for the Singh family of Caubati, the home gardening exercise has been a learning experience for the entire family as they are first-timers to vegetable farming; “We are excited to see the result, we have always been planting flowers but now we are diverting to vegetables and this activity will also keep us busy from boredom.”