AFTER seven years of rice farming, Mere Ram reaped the rewards of her hard work after being named the 2007 Best Rice Farmer at the Rice Field Day last week.
The award given at the event held at Vuniuto Settlement, in Nasarawaqa, Bua, has taught Mere an important lesson to stay dedicated to the job she loves most.
"I never used to farm rice in my childhood and younger days but got involved in 1999 after my husband asked me about it," she said.
"I thought it will be a tough job because I had never been exposed to such farming but I wanted to try out my husband's idea.
"I trusted his words because he came from that background," Mrs Ram said.
Her husband, Rishi Ram, a school teacher at Dreketi High School, described the initial stages of starting a rice farm as a job his wife quickly adapted to as she began spending more time out in the paddy then he did.
"I come from a background involved in rice farming where I grew up in so the activity is nothing new to me," he said.
"But, it is totally new for my wife.
"When she started I was shocked to see how dedicated she was and how she would spend a lot of time out on the farms, sometimes just watching the rice plants," he smiled.
Mere, who sat beside her husband, during the interview only smiled when she heard his description.
"That's true because may be because it was a first experience for me and I enjoyed it as it was something different. I have always been involved with cassava and dalo and vegetable farming.
"But rice was a totally new thing for me.
"I enjoyed it because it was easier to work with compared to dalo and cassava farming," Mrs Ram said.
She begins her farm work between 5-6am every day.
She starts by pulling out weeds or just spending time admiring her rice paddies on her nine-acre farm at Naibulu Settlement, in Dreketi, Macuata.
"After that I walk back home as the farm is just beside our home to prepare breakfast for the family.
"As soon as my husband and two older children leave for school, I take my three younger children to the farm, and we start our farm work by pulling out the weeds, or putting out the fertiliser," Mrs Ram said.
Her children, she said, had been a major contribution to her success.
"They help me a lot in farming and they never get tired from working on the farm so I am blessed to have them with me.
"My husband helps out in the afternoon and we all play a role in our rice farming so my success of winning this award is an effort put together by the family and not just me," Mrs Ram said.