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Yaz Benefits from Mixed Farming
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13 October 2011

       



The ride to Mohammed Yaz’s farm in Nukuseva, Nasarawaqa, Bua is a test in four wheel driving once you turn off the main road to make the five kilometer trek to his 60 acre farm where three generations of Mohammed’s family still reside. Initially settled here by his great-grandfather Mohammed Hanif some 90 years ago, Mohammed’s family know no other life than farming. 

In 1993, Mohammed’s family along with 22 other farmers in the area put their land towards the Nakalavo Land Purchase Co-operative, which borrowed from the Fiji Development Bank to develop their members’ farms for the growing of fruit crops. The Co-op collapsed in early 2004 and the Bank offered the farmers an opportunity to repurchase their land allotments by financing each farmer independently.
 
In 2007, FDB approved Mohammed’s application for financing under its Agricultural Loan facility for Agricultural Land Purchase. These days Mohammed farms three acres of peanuts, one acre of tobacco, five acres of watermelon and an acre of cash crops such as bean, eggplant, cabbage and chillies.
 
The FDB Agricultural Land Purchase facility is designed for purchase of farmland (other than sugar cane production). This facility is open to everyone except absentee farmers (unless prior contracting of experienced farm caretaker) and for land classified as Class “J” Leases. For purchases F$20,000 or less, the borrower is required to have an equity of 35 per cent of purchase price, in cash and for purchases in excess of F$20,000, at least 50 per cent of the purchase price, in cash.
 
Given the condition of the road to the farm, the one thing that Mohammed is blessed with, is that he doesn’t have to worry about taking his produce to the market – the market comes to him, literally to his doorstep where every bean and peanut is collected and paid for by the middleman from Seaqaqa who then transports the produce to Labasa Market where it is on-sold.
 
“Together with the vegetables, I also do goat farming,” Mohammed said. “Right now I have about 250 heads of goats that I sell for about $120 each live weight. My busiest period is around Christmas where people come from as far as Suva to buy and in this time I sell around 30 to 40 goats.”
 
The farm is self-sustaining. The family home is powered through solar, a water catchment nearby is piped to the house although in the dry season, Mohammed admits that not much can be done by way of planting so he relies on the sale of goats to help supplement his income.
 
“Right now, the best returns I get is from peanuts at $5/kg and dried tobacco for suki at $1/leaf but in the near future, I am looking at planting coconut trees for copra because of the good prices that this crop is making,” he said.
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