Saiad Ali and Raimun Nisha are a couple living in Navua and they can attest to the wonders of farming. Their farm focuses on seasonal vegetables and edible egg production.

Their journey has been filled with challenges over the years but they have remained true to their calling.

“My parents had been practising semi-commercial agriculture on our 4 acres of land for the past 58 years and this included rice and vegetable farming. However, due to frequent flooding in the area, we had to divert to poultry and seasonal vegetables so that we could ensure we had a steady source of income,” explained Saiad.

The hardworking farmer had to plan his farm activities carefully and said that he planted vegetables during the dry months of the year to avoid damage to the vegetables from floods during the wet season.

Now, at 58 years old, Saiad looks back at how he started off as a sweet seller in Navua as a young bloke, to becoming a hairdresser in Suva for 25 years before he went back into farming in Navua.

The family started off with a small shed raising jungle breeds of chicken until Pacific Feeds gave them day-old chicks and with advice from the Ministry of Agriculture, the poultry farm was established and started to thrive in 2007.

The poultry farm started with a batch of 40 chickens and progressively increased numbers to 100 chickens for the second and third batches, and finally increased to 200 chickens for the fourth batch. 

“Running a business is risky and there are challenges that we must prepare for. We lost our fourth batch of 200 chicks during a flash flood but after a few visits to the Ministry of Agriculture, we received a new batch of 100 day-old chicks from Pacific Feeds,” explained Saiad.

It took the couple six years of building and rebuilding their poultry farm before it started generating a profit.

“We wanted to expand our egg farming business and consider ourselves fortunate that the Ministry stepped in again to assist us in 2015 with nine A-frame cages, poultry shed materials with 700-day-old chicks and feed,” said Raimun.

The farm now has 4000 layer chickens and 5000 baby chickens which are being reared as replacements.

Their markets

The hardworking couple now sell eggs at the Navua market and from their farm gate.

“We also supply eggs to outlets in Suva, Navua, and Pacific Harbour on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays,” they said.

While Saiad makes deliveries, his wife, Raimun and their three labourers work on maintaining the poultry shed, feeding the chickens, and collecting eggs to fill 50 trays daily. They also collect manure and heap them together for supply to interested crop farmers as well as for their own vegetable farm. 

During the 2017/2018 financial year, the couple once again achieved a milestone as the Ministry’s one-third and two-thirds initiative enabled them to purchase an egg grading machine.

“In the past, we used to grade the eggs manually and having the machine now has relieved our workload and met the required standards for eggs to be graded before they are sold to the public,” said Raimun.

“Patience is key when dealing with poultry farming and we waited for five years for our profit with the understanding that great things come to those who are patient,” said Raimun.

The couple adds that the quality of products must be maintained at all times as this will ensure the building of a brand of excellence.

“Hard work is the key to success and we encourage Fijians to invest in farming whether it be for crops or for livestock. Let us work together to grow the agriculture sector in Fiji.”