Picture: Aunty Fi taking a break after working on her farm.
The fact that she does more on her farm, than any of the other men in her cluster, has 66-year old Finau Wong respected by those who know of her on Ovalau Island in the Lomaiviti Group.
Like other farmers, Aunty Fi, as she is fondly referred to, religiously follows a strict timetable like clockwork. That is her number one principle in life – time management.
Farming runs in her blood as her father was also a farmer. Her mother was from Koro, Lomaiviti while her father was Chinese; from the motherland.
She took up planting after she retired from full time employment and gave it her undivided attention after her husband passed away.
Speaking in i-taukei Aunty Fi explained that she planted yaqona, cassava, dalo, pineapple, cabbage, long beans, eggplants, and Chinese pumpkin.
It is indeed remarkable to watch this petite woman, hike about an hour, every day, Monday to Saturday up to her farm located in the steep hills behind her home in Draiba, Levuka.
Her daily routine begins with her feeding her chickens and pigs in the morning, then she prepares lunch for her grandchildren, after they leave for school that is when she prepares to go to her farm, taking her lunch too as she will be there the entire day, cleaning, clearing, and planting till she returns in the afternoon.
While some may find the fact that Aunty Fi is the only woman in her small group of cluster farmers, she on the other hand, does not think it is a big deal.
Her cluster, like other clusters had set a target to plant 1,000 yaqona plants every year for three years. Today, she has achieved that three-year target with more than 3,000 yaqona plants already in the ground.
For her, farming is where her interest lies and that is all there is to it.
Aunty Fi thanked the Ministry of Agriculture for providing building materials for her farm house and yaqona planting materials that has now expanded due to her daily commitment.
Aunty Fi’s message to other women was simple: time management was vital and if you do not have anything to do, go outside and plant. She urged women not to drink too much kava, instead, spend time farming as that was more useful.
She was assisted under the Ministry of Agriculture’s Yaqona Development Programme whose objective is to improve infrastructure development to support household livelihoods and commercial agriculture. Infrastructure development meant providing farmers with farm shed, nursery materials, water tanks, and planting materials.