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Hydroponics is the way forward for Goundar

Filipe Naigulevu
Saturday, January 13, 2018

WHILE agriculture is considered a high risk business, a 30-year-old aspiring entrepreneur from Nadi has much tenacity to succeed in this sector.

The aspiring entrepreneur — Sandhiya Goundar — plans to set up a sustainable and modern farming business — a dream she had aspired since young.

She took a step closer towards her dream when she was selected as a grant recipient under Government's Young Entrepreneurship Scheme (YES).

Ms Goundar, who is a lecturer in social science at the University of Fiji, is looking to begin a hydroponic farm in Fiji, an innovative method of growing plants without soil using mineral nutrient solutions.

This, she believes, will in turn not only give back greater yields and profits, but potentially create employment.

"Every individual with a business idea has a challenge to face and a question to answer: how do I get capital to start up my business," Ms Goundar said.

"I am thankful to the Government of the day for providing opportunities for young entrepreneurs like me to pursue our dreams."

And the business is not a strange venture for Ms Goundar as she comes from a family oriented around farming.

"I come from a farming background so I always wanted to start up a greenhouse.

"We are doing small-scale farming and selling it to the local community and hotels as well. But I wanted to start up the greenhouse because the yield increases by 50 per cent. So that was where I got the idea of greenhouse. But the YES program wanted something very unique so I incorporated hydroponics as part of my business proposal."

With land already available for her farm, Ms Goundar will grow vegetables such as lettuce, cucumber, dhania, capsicum, okra and karela, chillies, beans, watermelons and tomatoes.

But the uncertain weather and natural disasters, like every other agribusiness, pose risks to their produce and possibly bring about loss.

The confident Ms Goundar however remains optimistic, with plans and strategies to back up business in these scenarios.

"We cannot stop natural disasters and we have to develop back up plans. You need to choose which crops to plant and of course your security and insurance," she said.

"If you are an entrepreneur; you have heard the million reasons you should not go into business.

"It's too risky, you might go into debt, you might probably lose sleep or your social life will finish and the list goes on.

"But even with these uncertainties, people are encouraged to start up their own dreams and make it a reality."

When asked on why she decided to move into business, Ms Goundar said it was to make use her agricultural and technical knowledge, combined with something innovative.

"What is unique about my business is the use of modern technology in farming that is hydroponics — the use of water instead of soil to grow crops," she said.

"My family is happy with the move but once it starts up they will know the benefit."

With her new farm set to soon set up, Ms Goundar hopes it would further create employment and fresh food supplies to local communities, commercial entities and in future for export.








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