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Sacrifice pays off for local commercial farmer

Filipe Naigulevu
Saturday, June 17, 2017

HAVING to sacrifice his spot for the education of his younger siblings at an early age, commercial farmer 56-year-old Rajendra Prasad never gave up on his dreams of becoming successful.

Mr Prasad, of Qila in Taveuni today owns a 20-acre farmland, where 3.5 hectares of his land is for yaqona planting and two hectares for dalo.

And success never came easy for him, because becoming a farming expert with farming 32 years' experience was only done through hard work and perseverance.

"I voluntarily opted to leave school in class three to lighten the burden of my parents with the expenses of putting everyone through to school and just let my other siblings enjoy their education," Mr. Prasad said in a statement. "I didn't want my children to go through what I went through, so I worked hard to put my children to school and continue further studies."

It finally paid off when Mr Prasad was awarded the Farmer of the Year Award at the Ministry of Agriculture's Northern Agriculture Show held in Labasa last month.

"I am really happy receiving this Farmer of the Year Award, all my farming life I have never dreamt that I will achieve this, but today my hard work and perseverance has paid off," he said.

The annual event is organised by the Ministry of Agriculture dedicated to farmers, stakeholders, students and the general public.

At one of his sweet harvests in the fall of September, 2015, the estimated value of his harvest was about $40,000, of which he used $32,000 to purchase a Hilux twin cab to help on the farm.

"This was one of the greatest achievements of my target. The remaining balance was used on the family and other little expenses needed on the farm."

Mr Prasad has also developed a farm plan, which includes targets set to be achieved in a year and three to five years on the longer term.

In 2016, his total yaqona harvest amounted to $60,000, from which he purchased another twin cab and purchased a one quarter acre land in Nausori with the remaining amount.

And more excitingly, Mr Prasad's on the ground yaqona is awaiting harvest between one to three years with an estimated value of $212,000, while the one to six months old dalo is estimated at $20,000.

"Now I am grooming my youngest son to support me on the farm and eventually take over the farming operations and then I will retire from farming because I have achieved all my dreams and targets through farming."

The Ministry of Agriculture through its export promotion program assisted Rajendra Prasad on his farm in 2015 that enabled him to further expand his farm.

Displays from the Ministry of Agriculture during the event range from crops to livestock and live demonstrations.

The Northern Agriculture Show held at Subrail Park in Labasa drew farmers and keen public from the three provinces Cakaudrove, Bua and Macuata.

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