‘Life is hard now’

Waimicia vegetable and sugarcane farmer Uday Kumar carries a sack of vegetables to sell in Ra. Picture: REPEKA NASIKO

CARTING a sack full of vegetables under the scorching Western heat, 56-year-old, Uday Kumar walks along the Kings highway in Waimicia, Ra, and tries to flag down passing cars hoping to make a sale.

Approaching our parked car on the busy highway, the grandfather of three, related how selling vegetables on foot was one of the few ways he made a living. “Life is hard now,” he shared.

“I’ve been a farmer for more than 40 years now, and life is not what it used to be.

“I’ve been a farmer all my life and I saw how my father looked after our farm.

“Life was good back then. We could go to town with very little money and still be able to buy a lot.

“But now, money is hard to get and we get little out of it.” He said not even a sugar cane farm was able to sustain his family’s everyday needs.

“It’s expensive to run a sugarcane farm so I have to do this too.”

He said he began his day at 8am every day carrying vegetables such as cucumber, okra or cabbage and selling them near the Waimicia market. “I walk as far as two kilometres trying to make a sale.

“I don’t have a stall at the Waimicia market so I have to sell on foot.

“Sometimes, the sale is good. I can sell most of the vegetables to passengers in an express bus. Other times, it’s not so good. I take back what I can’t sell. If I really need the money, I lower the price to $1 so I can at least have some money.”

He says a farmer’s life requires hard work, a lot of times under the hot sun.

“If we are not working on the land, we are out trying to sell what we grow.

“This life is only for the people who can endure. Whatever comes, they take it. If it gets harder and more challenging, they will work harder, dig deeper into their land. “Only when the land is taken away from them then we will stop.”

He said hard work was rewarding because he had the love and care of a close knit family.

“We need our family around us. They are the reason why we work as hard as we do.”

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