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Farming wins over rugby

Serenia Vilele
Monday, June 19, 2017

IN the yaqona and dalo producing province of Bua, 27-year-old Mitieli Gunuwale farms his 20-acre Mataqali Nalalo land since 2011 leaving school in 2009.

With the father guiding the novice farmer, the Nasadrou native wanted to make a difference and challenged himself to surpass his father's achievements.

"My intention of trying to go beyond the achievements of my father is because he is growing old and I would like to purchase assets that will help us on the farm," the Bua native said.

Mitieli left rugby in 2009 to pursue farming as he had a dream to achieve.

His rugby career started in his formative years at Nasinu when he was the captain of the school's under-19 team to the Fiji secondary school rugby union Deans Trophy competition.

He later became a part of the national under-20 Fiji squad to Japan but left all that to start a career in farming back on his island home.

"Rugby was my interest when I was growing up and on numerous occasions I imagined myself somewhere around the globe. That changed when I had a taste of farming during one of my holiday visits to the village," Mitieli said.

"Farming got sweeter when I harvested my first harvest and facing difficulties motivated me also to set a mission to purchase farm assets.

"I have never regretted switching from my dream rugby career to farming, through this new found vocation, I am able to purchase items that take years to pay off," said Mitieli.

On his farm Mitieli plants yaqona and dalo as his main commodity while plantain, banana and cassava are planted for home consumption.

The Ministry of Agriculture developed farm roads in Bua Province after it was brought to its attention.

"Our farm road has been one of our main constraints and we are grateful for the good news we have been told of its construction to us," he said gratefully.

"Normally we would use horses and carry our produce on our shoulders from the farm to the collection point. When it is rainy weather, it's worse," said Mitieli.

"There are a lot of us in our farming community and this development by the Ministry of Agriculture will help us continue and produce more."

During the Northern Agriculture Show at Subrail Park in Labasa, the keen farmer joined hundreds of other farmers to see what this year's agriculture show had to offer them.

"I came with my father to see what the Ministry of Agriculture has to offer in terms of new and exciting practices which I can take and use on my farm," he said.

"There are some varieties that I have just seen for the first time and it is also an opportune time for me to meet agricultural staff that can also help me with the development of my farm."

* Serenia Vilele is an employee of the Ministry of Agriculture.

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