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Chand switches to livestock farming

Luke Rawalai
Sunday, June 18, 2017

NINE years ago Kawakawavesi canefarmer Dewan Chand thought of turning his back on cane farming and never return to the farms again.

It was his wife Ram Kumari who persuaded Mr Chand not to leave their 53 acres land lease.

The Viria native told her husband of 15 years that there were other options they could take and that cane was not the only answer.

At the age of 57, Chand is glad that he listened to his wife and tried out other agricultural ventures.

"With my wife we have our own livestock farm — goats, sheep, cattle, chickens, ducks and a fish pond — and also plant curry powder, and Hibiscus Sabriffa flower which they sell for the production of tea," he said.

"I now have a source of income that I get whenever I need money and do not have to go begging to banks and I am so glad that I did not sell my farm.

"A lot of farmers have also left this Kawakawavesi area. This area used to be the centre of sugar production during its heyday when we would have farmers coming from as far as Lau, Lomaiviti and Naitasiri."

Mr Chand said with his current trade he did not have to burden himself with labour costs, manure or transportation costs, adding that although there was much to be done he was already feeling relaxed.

"At the moment we are making just enough money to keep our heads above water, but when these projects get fully implemented we will reap more money from it," he said.

"We are working closely with the agriculture department seeking assistance from them." Ms Kumari says that nearly 50 per cent of farmers in the area had left in search of greener pastures.

"We have three children and the two elder girls are married with their own families while we stay with our son," she said.

Produce sold at the couples farm:

* Curry powder - $25 a kilogram

* Hibiscus Sabriffa tea - $20 a kilogram

* Livestock (Matured size of cattle, goat and sheep) - $300

* Chicken/ ducks - $80

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