Farming is not for the faint of heart as it requires a lot of hard work and comes coupled with the numerous risks and challenges associated with it as a definite certainty.
That is more than enough reason for some to throw in the proverbial towel but for Chandar Deo of Nakama, Waiqele in Labasa, it paved the absolute opposite and would eventually prove beneficial in the long haul.
The 55-year-old farmer is a familiar face at the Labasa Market as he continuously supplies vegetables to the municipal market and has always strived to expand his farm through conventional methods.
Through his farm, Deo has been able to educate his children and sustain his family’s livelihood from the income derived from his hard-earned efforts toiling the land.
Just recently, Mr. Deo breathed a sigh of relief as he was fortunate enough to receive assistance in the form of farming equipment from the Ministry of Agriculture.
Unbeknownst to Chandar, this was something he would desperately be in need of for his farming endeavors to succeed after realizing that mechanization was crucial to furthering his plans following his participation in an organized agriculture tour of Viti Levu.
“I was one of those lucky farmers from Labasa to be given the opportunity to be part of the tour organized by the Ministry of Agriculture to major farming areas in Viti Levu. It was an eye-opening tour for me as I saw that there is a big opportunity for farming.
“This I would say was the turning point for my farming life because I decided that I will use my available land and go into commercial vegetable farming,” said Mr. Deo.
He stated it was then, that he realized that there was a need for better farming equipment and machinery for his farm to carry out his farming activities more efficiently.
He was assisted with a walk-behind tractor, water pump and pipes, a wheelbarrow, a water tank and nursery materials under the Ministry of Agriculture’s Food Security Program (FSP).
The only way he could show his gratitude for the assistance provided to him was by assuring to further develop his farm in order to continue to supply his produce to the markets.
Mr. Deo plants assorted vegetables which include cucumber, radish, eggplant, cabbage, beans, coriander, okra and watermelon and is also one of the only farmers in the Northern Division who has been planting potatoes throughout the years.
“Potato is one of the crops that I wish to continue planting as I’ve had good production for the last 3 years and the locally grown potato is always in high demand,” he said.
For him, securing a market for his produce is not a problem as he sells all of it at the Labasa market, even supplying as far as Savusavu on occasion.
“At times, we also try and sell vegetables in markets as far as Savusavu as we get higher prices there as there are many farmers growing and supplying vegetables at the Labasa market.
“At times, we farmers find it difficult to find space to sell the produce in the market by ourselves, therefore, we have to sell to the market vendors at a wholesale price,” he added.
His farm is surrounded by a stream which makes it easier to do farming in this changing weather patterns as he is able to get the water needed for his farm from this stream.
“Now that I have been assisted with the water pump, I will surely increase the area of my farming as sourcing water for my farm will not be an issue anymore.
Acting Senior Agriculture Officer Macuata, Sujendra Prasad while handing over the equipment said that the Ministry had been working very closely with Mr. Deo over the years as he had been identified as a regular vegetable supplier to the Labasa Market.
“We saw that he wanted to expand his farm and in order to assist him in his farming activities, there was a genuine need for these farming equipment as he wanted to develop his farm further into a much bigger scale.
“He was also part of the group of farmers from the Northern Division who went for a field trip to the Sigatoka Valley area to see the extent of farming activities carried out there and it was from then he came up with the idea to mechanise his farm and he approached the Ministry for the assistance,” said Mr. Prasad.
Under his locality, according to Mr. Prasad, Chandar Deo is a model farmer as he keeps proper records of all his farming activities including the production and sales of his produce.
The Ministry of Agriculture is currently working on implementing its 2020 Policy Agenda and is trying to modernize the agriculture sector and no doubt farmers like Deo will contribute positively towards achieving this goal.