A tale of a rancher from Naivucini

While enjoying a bowl of sui or any beef dish, please take a minute to think and recognize the struggle a beef cattle farmer has to endure to get that meal served.

One farmer that endures the challenge is 62-year-old Emoni Baniua of Naivucini village in the district of Nadaravakawalu in Naitasiri.

Years of walking the terrains of Wailase are visible on his thick, calloused and cracked feet from rounding cattle on the 157 acres of land where his stocks roam around.                                                  

His parents passed the ranch to him, having spent the last 30 years with him as a helping hand, teaching him about cattle farming, as well as getting him ready to take the reins of the ranch.

When they worked together, Emoni had a more likely chance of succeeding once the lease was over and he took over, following its renewal from the Tokatoka Buluya of the Mataqali Nasilime land they were leasing.

The successful way in which father and son work together spurred them on to have a healthier stock, with nearly all the cattle being free from tuberculosis.

Nine years after taking control of the 72 stock from his father, Emoni handles each challenge with determination, prevailing over hindrances and embracing new ones.

A hardworking farmer, he has also taken an interest in yaqona, a commodity he got interested in when his father was still running the cattle farm.

Emoni says that his farming schedule is such that he alternates his days and time between crops and livestock, permitting him to look in on the cattle every week and dedicate the other days to his dalo and yaqona plantation.

“We ensure the welfare of the cattle with the abundance of food and water at the grazing site and keeping track of their health and development with weekly visits,” said Emoni.

People who drink the mystic water of Wailase, the wai ni vosavosa, gain the privilege of utter words, and amazingly, the cows drink it too and remain well built.

Emoni has mastered the art of manoeuvring his way around challenges and it is his wish for the government to help him with a farm road, making it simpler to move stocks and, for the benefit of the younger generation and cattle farmers grazing their stock around the area.

He mentioned that while taking the stock for the abattoir, they normally bring the cattle down, crossing the river 12 times to reach the pickup point where the buyer or truck will be waiting.

“The only way to get to our property is by the river, something my parents and I have had to deal with, so we are requesting assistance in constructing a farm road,” he said.

He said the cows take a long walk down the river to calm down and prepare to give birth at the pound by the village.

Leaving his stock around the river is sometimes detrimental as natural disasters can occasionally lead to a strong current in the river, resulting in the fatality of his cattle.

But behind every challenge, sweat and blood there is sunshine and he experiences this whenever he sells his stock to the abattoir.

With the help of his two sons, he loads 7-10 cattle for sale and his first sale after he took charge of the cattle farm from his father reached $11,000 which went towards his family’s needs.

Emoni supplies cattle to the abattoir as and when he needs money.

According to Emoni, the money he got from the farm was used to put his children in school, build his house, construct a dam, and buy two vehicles to help his people, who lived far away.

Embracing the hardship he faces regarding the long walk for sale days, in the future, Emoni is planning to construct a cattle yard panel fence at the ranch for loading instead of having to walk his stock down.

His long-term investments are cattle and yaqona, while dalo is his short-term crop, and he balances his income sources while claiming it is hard work that provided for everything.

The industrious farmer advises the youths to take advantage of the land to better their lives instead of doing nothing or leaving for the cities in search of jobs.

“If you stay in the village and do nothing, you will achieve nothing, we can all live the lives of those in urban areas, and have access to assets, and proper homes, all we have to do is make use of resources around us, work hard and keep going until you achieve your visions,” said Emoni.