16 March, 2018, 12:00 am
WITH the cost of living becoming high for most families in the country, individuals have come up with income-generating initiatives to supplement their income.
Then there are those who have planned it well to benefit them and their families in the long run.
Jesse King and his wife Lute King decided to plan something that will benefit their family in the long run and they bought a fish farm situated in Baulevu, Nausori about five years ago.
The couple invested in five fish ponds in which they rear tilapia.
Mr King said they bought the farm for about $120,000 and decided to try their hand at tilapia farming, which according to him, has been very successful over the past few years.
According to Mr King, each pond has about 10,000 to 14,000 fish and is mostly harvested once they are about 30cm long.
He said they sold the fish at the Nausori Municipal Market at about $10/kg which was about three good sized fish.
“We received a lot of help in this from the Nadurulou Agriculture Research Station here at Baulevu and they have provided us with fingerlings and some advice on how to take care of the fish and the pond,” he said.
However Mr King said most of the things about tilapia farming that he learnt came from watching education videos on Youtube.
Mr King and his wife both work on the farm in the weekends — that’s when they get time off from their day jobs.
“My wife works at the Reserve Bank of Fiji while I work for Goodman Fielder. This is the time when my wife exchanges her heels for gumboots to work on the farm.”
Things on the farm have been going well however Mr King said one of their major challenges was a consistent market for tilapia.
“Over the years we have been selling the fish at the Nausori market however we have found that there are some people who tend to book the stalls for Saturdays for the whole year and therefore there are times when we do not get any stalls.
“With tilapia it’s better to sell the fish while it’s still fresh and if we are able to find a consistent buyer for our fish then he could just come to the farm and pick and choose the fish he wants and pay us for it.”
Mr King said having a wholesale buyer would make it easy for them in terms of selling their fish.
Apart from tilapia farming, the couple also started planting ginger on their land from last year and this week they started their first harvest for the year.
Mr King said the ginger from their farm was sold to wholesalers at $1/kilo.
“We also plant chilies that we sell to the farmers however our major income comes from tilapia and now ginger,” he said.
There have been some setbacks to business over the years caused by cyclones and flooding but they received some government assistance in terms of sustaining their farm.
Mr King said Baulevu was a flood prone area and as a result their ponds were known to be affected during flooding.
However he said Government assisted them by putting a fence around their fish ponds so that when it flooded then the fish were caught in the fence and not washed away.
The couple have about five people who help them on the farm and then they employ some extra people when they harvest tilapia and the ginger.