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Light on the farm

Umendra Pratap
Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The idiom "light at the end of the tunnel" trully reflects the life, struggles and undoubted success of Kuldeep Sami.

For 45-year-old Kuldeep of Lakena Irrigation Rd in Nausori, the struggles he has encountered have moulded him into the man and farmer he is today.

"A person who struggles in life will always be successful as he will learn from the hardship and attempt to move further," he said.

Kuldeep is a mixed vegetable farmer who has toiled a piece of land for the past 18 years after he was evicted from his sugarcane farm at Nagigi in Labasa.

"I was given a short notice to vacate the land by the landowners and I had nowhere to go. I came to Suva where my sister and her husband helped me find a (piece of) land here in Lakena, Nausori and I went back to Labasa, dismantled my house and brought everything across to Viti Levu," said Kuldeep.

He says it was not an easy task to do all that was required but he did not have the luxury of an option.

The land which was given to him was very boggy as it was had been used to plant rice. Being the resolute person he is, he built his house, had some drainage done and started with his farming.

"At first I planted rice and some vegetables but as years passed by, I turned to vegetable farming since there was a market readily available for my farm produce. It was very difficult for me to adapt to this type of farming as I had been a sugarcane farmer all my life but slowly things started to turn out for the better and I began tasting success in vegetable farming.

"I usually supply my vegetables to the Nausori market and I also have a stall in the market where I sell my farm produce especially on the weekends," he said.

Like any other farmer in the Lakena area, Kuldeep also faces drainage problems.

Natural disasters proved to be another major hurdle and last year's Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston dealt a major blow to the majority of farmers and Sami's farm was no exception.

Flooding had a telling impact during Severe TC Winston in the Central Division and Kuldeep suffered a huge loss. He was in dire need of assistance and was fortunate to receive vegetable seeds from the Ministry of Agriculture.

"I was given cucumber and okra seeds for planting in the form of assistance."

He said he was so fortunate to receive the seeds which had really assisted him restart his farm.

"I would like to thank the people of India and the Indian Government for providing such assistance as it really helped us during a time of need."

Kuldeep said he managed to earn good money by selling cucumber and okra.

"Now I am so content with the production and amount of money I earn from the crops I had planted under the cyclone rehabilitation program that I want to look out for options to bring in more seeds from India.

"Never before have I harvested cucumber like this. It was just fruiting like anything and I was overjoyed with the production," said the content farmer.

He said things were now slowly returning to normal and he was fully utilising his land to produce more crops.

His advice to other farmers is to never give up.

"If you are dedicated to achieving your targets, there is nothing in this world that can stop you from being successful."

* Umendra Pratap works for the Ministry of Agriculture.

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