First in the field

Seni inspects the sugarcane plant leaves on a farm in Buabua, Lovu sector in Lautoka. Picture: SUPPLIED

Seni inspects the sugarcane plant leaves on a farm in Buabua, Lovu sector in Lautoka. Picture: SUPPLIED

THERE was a time when certain work fields or professions were only set for males in the society however these barriers are now being broken down by young women who are crossing such boundaries and excelling in male-dominated professions.

Seniwaiti Ratu works for the Fiji Sugar Corporation and is a field coordinator for the Lautoka area.

According to a statement from FSC, Ms Ratu started her journey with FSC in October 2014 where she began on a roving three month probation, working in all the sectors within the Lautoka area.

It said in June 2015, she got confirmed as field assistant — a role that was more administrative in nature — and she worked in this role until early this year when she was promoted to field coordinator.

At the time of her promotion, Seni (as she is known at FSC) was the only female employee in the company’s field division.

“Working in an all-male environment was challenging at times, but I was passionate about my pursuit to be successful in this area,” she said.

Ms Ratu said she had always loved the outdoors as her family always had a backyard garden where they had a lot of different types of vegetables and she loved working in the garden after school and during her free time.

The Nadakuni, Waimaro, Naitasiri lass now calls Lautoka home, and has been a resident of the Sugar City since 2014.

She moved across from Suva to pursue work in the sugar industry and clearly she has enjoyed every single moment of living and working in the sugar belt.

“Agriculture was always my favourite subject in school and I developed a passion for planting and working with nature from a very young age,” she said.

Most young women her age would not venture out and pursue farming but this is what comes as second nature to Ms Ratu.

She looks after 673 sugarcane growers within the Lovu and Lautoka sectors with her biggest challenge being trying to get nil producing growers to start planting sugar cane again.

As a result of Ms Ratu’s encouragement and work with the farmers, growers who were not actively farming sugar cane for some time are slowly coming back.

“I like talking to farmers, I like to know how they are getting along and conducting their lives daily, this helps me understand their needs better, and it helps me in my job,” she said.

Ms Ratu now looks forward to growing in the field extension area within the FSC, while aiming to further her academic studies, to add on to her Diploma in Agriculture Studies that she holds.

According to FSC, the field extension division services the needs of sugarcane growers around Fiji.

Field extension offices are located within the cane belt, in the interior and rural areas where sugarcane planting is a major activity.

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