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Deo Narayan, for the time being, has been focusing on vegetable farming. Picture: ANA MADIGIBULI

IF you’re living at the Dreketi Agriculture Station in Vanua Levu you would be familiar with the early morning knocks at the door by Deo Narayan.

Mr Narayan is a rice farmer who recently started his vegetable farming business at Malowai, Dreketi.

Every morning, he wakes up at the crack of dawn to collect vegetables from his small vegetable farm across the Dreketi rice irrigation system and walks to the agriculture research station with his sack of vegetables, selling it to individuals who are keen to eat freshly-picked produce.

Mr Narayan has been a farmer for 55 years because unlike many, he started quite young, learning the ropes from his father.

“I left school when I was in class seven (Year 7) and I thought I should probably start learning how to work on the rice farm because it was quite popular where I was growing up,” Mr Narayan said.

“It was in 1963 that I started working on the rice farm and I was just in my teens when I had my first rice field. The feeling of being able to create my own rice field was so fulfilling especially for someone who left school at a young age. “Now I’m 70 and I’m still in the rice farming business, but since we have been having a lot of rainfall I had to switch to vegetables for the time being so I can earn some cash on the side until rice farming picks up again.”

Mr Narayan has five acres of land that was dedicated to rice farming alone, but since he started his small vegetable farm he had to allocate a certain spot for vegetable farming. “I usually sell cabbages, beans, radish, coriander and other quick-to-grow vegetables,” he said.

“Every day I walk past the irrigation system to come to the research station because a lot of workers at the station buy vegetables from me daily. “I have teachers at the school as well who buy certain vegetables so I make sure that I have enough for everyone when I leave home early. “It’s always good to leave home early when the vegetables are still fresh so the customers know that it was freshly picked from the farm instead of being kept for a day like those sold in the market.”

He said a farmer’s life was hard but fulfilling in the sense that they have money in their hand daily. “I like that I can contribute something good to the community by helping them eat healthy meals with the vegetables I sell,” he said.

Mr Narayan has five children and he lives at home with his wife.

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