Farming for a better future

Picture: Aisea Vutugaga on his dalo farm.

Aisea achieved success with hard work and determination, despite the many obstacles he faced during the farming venture. 


63-year-old Aisea Vutugaga, native to Naivucini in the Nadaravakawalu district of Naitasiri, believed in himself when he moved to cultivate the 15-acre land that is owned by his maternal side at the Wainavau settlement. 


His farm is in a beautiful location with a stream and undisturbed vegetation best suited for agricultural development.  


Aisea plants dalo, watermelon and cassava on his farm and has 12 cattle that cater for all the needs and wants of his family. 


In 2019, his dalo earned him $21,700.00, with the highest sale of 11 tonnes of watermelon in 2016, making $28,000.00. He supplies farm produce to the Fiji National University, Fiji Corrections Services and the local markets in Suva and the Western Division. 


“I have achieved a lot from farming. The income from dalo and watermelon has enabled my children to receive an education as private students locally and overseas. It has helped to pay for their tuition, allowances and accommodations,” said Aisea. 


Aisea had better plans to manage his farm by reinvesting the income back on the farm, using it for land clearing on the newly leased land in 2015, and then in 2017, he planted 50,000 dalo. 


His farming was thriving, and he then leased another two acres, which led to a conflict with the landowners that halted his yield. 


Although he had to reduce his yield from 50,000 dalo to 8,000 because of the land dispute, Aisea continued doing what he loves, that being farming. 


With his dedication, in 2018, the Ministry of Agriculture assisted him with farmhouse materials and manure under the Dalo Development program. Apart from that, the Ministry staff also provide technical advice to the farmer. 


Thinking back to the days of carrying farm produce on their shoulders and horseback has been an ultimate reward for Aisea. 


Aisea is the epitome of humility and dedication. Despite all he encountered, he remained humble and his dedication to his family was visible at home. 


The father of four had ambitions that included educating his children and relatives, something he felt he needs to do as he did not excel academically. 


“I left school when I was in Class 8 and because of that I made sure my children and other family members have a better education,” he said. 


Aisea manages the farm profits and allocates them to separate bank accounts according to his and the family’s needs.   


The support and work of a wife make a man’s achievements possible and his wife, Vaseva Tinaitamana is Aisea’s biggest support. 


She had to endure the cold mornings of upper Naitasiri, walking long hours with sacks strapped onto her back to get to the main road and wait for transport to the Suva market. Her hard work was evident as she recalled the struggles before the development of roads in the area. 


“We achieved it all with perseverance, love and a vision to have a brighter future for our family. There will be hardships, there will be turmoil, but it takes dedication and a heart to keep going,” said Vaseva. 


If you are given something that you know will prove beneficial, remain hopeful and make use of it, and land is one of the biggest assets you can have. If utilised well, it could lead to great success in life,” she said.