Picture: Kiran Lal at her floriculture nursery in Vatuwaqa.
Her love for flowers knows no bounds and there is not a day that one will not find her in her garden.
Floriculturist, Ms. Kiran Lal, 71, who resides in Vatuwaqa, outside Suva has made use of every available space in her compound, from the front of her yard to the sides of her home, right to her backyard – every inch of land is taken up by her plants.
She has different species of anthuriums, herbs, spices, and golden palms that have been set up neatly and tightly stacked with a narrow pathway snaking its way throughout her greenhouse, the only space for movement. Yet, Kiran easily glides between her flowers almost as if floating on air as she knows exactly where each is located and which needs her attention.
Kiran recalls her childhood where farming was the family’s main source of income.
“My mum was a farmer and when I was young, together with my ten other siblings we used to help mum. Every day we would be helping mum and dad. We used to grow pineapples, yaqona, vegetables, and root crops in our farm in Wainibuku,” she said.
“Every Thursdays we would prepare all the things for the market, pack it in bundles and have it ready for the market. Fridays my mum or brothers would take it to the market to sell. That was our source of income.”
She said taking care of her plants was her happy place, a hobby that she is passionate about.
“This,” looking around and gesturing with her arms, “is my hobby. I am always here every day, it helps me keep my mind busy and it keeps me healthy too. I don’t have pain in my body, I still carry heavy buckets, even though I am 71 years’ old.”
“I do this all by myself. I mix everything the mud, the manure, the sand – into the pots.”
Her greenhouse is located at her home on Khemindra Street. She has been delving in this industry from her home for over 20 years.
She only sells once a month at the Roc Market and the Market Day at Sports City. Otherwise, her hobby is to only to be with her plants, watch them grow beautifully, and continue to take care of them.
In commemorating International Women’s Day, Kiran’s advice to other women was they should work hard even though their husbands may be employed full time.
“Ladies, should take up something that will keep them active, like working in a garden or anything. If you have available land near or around your home, plant something. You don’t have plant a lot, start small, like two plants of baigan (Eggplant).
“You don’t need to buy anything from the market, just plant it home. You will help your husband and your family and your health too,” she said.
The Ministry of Agriculture assisted Kiran in expanding her greenhouse nursery last year by providing her with the building materials. This was made possible after her Floriculture Group called Dream Women Empowerment registered their group, hence five members were assisted.
Dream Women Empowerment Group was assisted under the Ministry of Agriculture’s Women in Agriculture capital programme to assist women entrepreneur to start or expand their cottage industries. Government allocated $150k this current financial year.
The programme supports women and women’s group for active participation in Agriculture Development through the; commercializing floriculture for cut flowers and green foliage production and establishment of nurseries; and strengthening traditional art through commercializing Voivoi and Masi production.