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Success on her farm

Kunal Deo
Thursday, February 15, 2018

SUCCESS is a dream every farmer nurtures in their daily toil and it is no different for women.

Treating farming as a business was an entirely new concept for 38-year-old Moherein Lata of Waiqele, Labasa who was unprepared for the changes married life had to offer her.

"Before getting married, I used to work in a life insurance company and had never been into farming and I didn't know much about farming at that time," she said.

"I got married at the age of 21 and from then I used to go out in the field and help my husband and my in-laws in the farm and after I got married I accompanied my husband to sell vegetables at the Labasa market where I felt embarrassed.

"Later I realised that I was wrong and instead I should be proud of myself that I was working hard and helping my family," she said with a smile.

Moherein, who is married to 39-year-old Rupendra Mohan, changed her mind-set and decided to help her husband and family on the farm and later at the age of 29, she took control of the farm allowing her in-laws to stay home as they grew old.

"The reason why I ventured into farming after my marriage was because my family was in this field so I thought to join and help my husband and my in-laws," she said.

"My husband and I work full-time on the farm and at times when there are a lot of vegetables in the ground, then my children come and help," she said.

The 2017 Northern Division Female Farmer of the Year award winner has since then had no regrets for taking over the farming business with her spouse as she has set her mind on taking their farm to newer heights.

"It has been 10 years now since I have been doing farming here with my husband and it has now become our daily routine as we have to work seven days on our farm. There is no regret for me in joining farming with my husband after our marriage.

"If you see it from another point, farming is a business of your own where you are your own boss and you can also hire people to work for you," she said proudly.

"Yes, in any business there are ups and down and if you look at farming as a business, this business will never let you down and it will continue to grow as the demand of vegetables will always be there in the local and export markets," she said.

The farming couple, who have a son and two daughters in secondary school, have managed to achieve a lot from farming and are looking forward to setting up a nursery for off-season crops.

"In these 10 years we have achieved a lot from vegetable farming only. We have managed to buy a (piece of) land where we are planting sugar cane and vegetables. We have also managed to buy a tractor and a car and are still paying from the sale of vegetables," she said.

As is with any business venture, there are associated risks and Moherein described natural disasters, such as flooding, as the major problem for their farm which is situated on the banks of a river.

"We never gave up on farming. Once, we lost almost everything in the floods a few years ago but with the support of my family, my husband and I managed as we continued to put in the hard work and piled up our fields with the greens (vegetable)," she said with a smile.

"Anyone can lose hope in any situation but it all depends on how you manage it and the most important thing is that if you have the support of your family, then of course you will never lose hope but instead you will continue to strive for success," she said.

Moherein not only takes care of her farm but she continues to commit herself to her role as a wife, mother and daughter-in-law.

"I have to take care of my children and my in-laws before going out in the farm because that is my part of who I am," she explained.

Through all of this, she remains grounded and grateful for the Ministry of Agriculture's continued guidance and support.

"The Ministry of Agriculture has been very helpful to us where they have assisted us whenever we needed them. They have provided us with seeds and technical assistance," she said.

"I thank the ministry for supporting and working very closely with us farmers and with their support and guidance we have managed to achieve a lot of things on our farm.

"I wish to also advise all women who are helping their family on the farm or who are farming on their own to be proud of yourselves, that you have the ability to do something on your own and not to be dependent on anyone because you are earning on your own."

Like many farmers, their only source of income is from their farm where they supply their vegetables two times per week on average with all expenses met by their farming exploits.

They are content with their farming endeavour and have plans ahead of them because according to the Mohans, they would not have it any other way but farming.

n Kunal Deo is an employee of the Ministry of Agriculture

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