Thirty-six year old Abdal Khan used to work as a mechanic at Musket Cove Resort but then decided that he wanted to go back into farming on a full time basis.

Fondly known as Pappu by his family members and close friends, he moved back to Marinitawa in Ba a few years ago to concentrate on his farming business.

 “I started my vegetable farm by planting long bean and continued with it as my main crop. Money earned was good for me so I decided to stick with planting it till today,” he smiled.

The lanky farmer has been farming for the past seven years on his 15-acres of land in Marinitawa and has solely dedicated seven acres for vegetables alone.

“No matter if you have a decent job, there must always be a Plan B,” he smiled.

“My small family stayed at my parent’s piece of land and farmed there before moving to my own piece of land which was idle back in 2019.”

“Starting was a bit of a challenge as I was juggling between my work and farming. I kept pushing myself to work harder and to give my 100 percent to farming as well. The dividends are paying off now and I am grateful that I have a supportive family system that encouraged me when I left my job for farming,” he explained.

Abdal plants vegetables during the main vegetable season as well as the off-season and has been harvesting an average of 70-100 kilogrammes of beans daily.

His produce is supplied to Deans Export in Ba and Maqere Export in Tavua with a few transported and sold at the Ba Market.

“It feels good to be able to provide families with food daily and in times of natural disasters. I have also supplied to the Ba Market during the rainy season which caused flooding in Ba,” explained Abdal.

He continued by saying that while farming, there are factors that needs to be considered by farmers to keep their farms in operation especially during natural disasters.

“We farm in an area that is dry and also experience flooding during excessive rainfall and in both, we use the river running along the farm for irrigation and have our vegetables planted on upper ground,” he said.

“Another factor we are facing is pests and diseases that come with vegetables and we have been advised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Waterways on its control. Through practice and listening to the advice of the agriculture officers, we have minimized its effect on our eggplants.”

Like every other farmer in the area, he is faced with labor problems but it has not deterred him from achieving his targets.

“My wife Adeline Lata Kumar is my biggest supporter, she works with me on the farm from weeding, planting, harvesting to sorting for the markets,” he said.

“I also have three labourers who are working endlessly on the farm and contribute to the running of the farm,” he said with appreciation.

From the little farmhouse they had when they first moved in 2019, they built and extended their home to what it is today and also to accommodate the tertiary fees of their eldest daughter.

“At this age, I am still strong and able to work so I have plans to utilize the other piece of land for other vegetables,” he said.

Abdal has clearly seen the difference of working and farming and is encouraging the youths of Fiji to make use of the land and engage in agriculture for income and food security.

“People are now wanting to go overseas without realizing that money is in the land they own. They just need to toil it and see for themselves the benefits of farming. ”

“Every day plant something, dig the soil and it will not disappoint you, I am just a few years into being a full-time farmer, I had my doubts when I first started but pushed myself and I managed, so if I can do it, so can you.”

Abdal says that the opportunities in farming is endless and if time management and planning is carried out right, a farmer can never go wrong.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Waterways will continue to advocate for farming as a means to alleviating poverty and growing a healthy Fiji in the future.