RATU Luke Sisiwa knows the value of hard work and hes reaped the fruits of his labour with a flourishing vegetable and root crop farm and 300 hectares of land for cattle and sheep farming.
All this he learnt while volunteering at the National Youth Training Centre in Nasau, Sigatoka and spending a year in Japan to sharpen his farming skills.
Today, the 26-year old from Wauosi in the interior of Navosa is back at the centre teaching other young farmers the importance of sustainable livelihood by going organic.
I grew up in the village, the eldest of five children. My father taught me everything I know about farming, how to prepare the land, what to plant and how to plant it, said the former Natutale Primary and Navosa Central College scholar.
After high school, I joined the centre in 2005 as an agriculture trainee. It was a very good experience because I learnt more farming methods to produce the best possible outcome. After six months, I returned to my village and put into practice what I had learnt.
It was through the centre that I was chosen to travel to Japan to learn about organic agriculture and the importance of livestock farming.
It was a really eye-opening experience. At first the language barrier was a challenge but I spent two months learning to communicate with them in their language. I started appreciating their culture and learnt all that I could to better my farming methods and skills.
It was not all classroom lectures and theory for Ratu Luke. His training also took him out for first-hand experience of farming life in Japan.
What he saw was a totally new concept, one that made him appreciate the hard work and sacrifice most farmers in Fiji go through to make ends meet.
In Japan, their farming methods are very technical and they use a lot of machines to do their work, he said.
In Fiji, its all manual labour. We have to work hard, weeding, planting and pulling out root crops, preparing the land with our two hands. Its very different from what they do in Japan, but the outcome is similar.
In time, maybe farming in Fiji will be like that in Japan, but for now, my training taught me ways to practise sustainable farming for a sustainable future.
Thats what Im doing at the centre and thats what I will encourage our young people to do in the village.
Watermelons, bananas, tomatoes, cabbage, potatoes, dalo and cassava clog his farmland while cattle and sheep farming supplement his income for the family.
The father of one says his mother normally takes vegetables and root crops from his plantation to sell at the market in Nadi and sometimes Sigatoka.
He says the most valuable lesson hes learnt so far is time management - it has helped him balance his work and life as a farmer, father and husband.