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Beefing up
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27 November 2012

Sakiusa Nabehiki, 37, of Dreke, Nadroga has known for a while that there
is much money to be made in farming cattle – provided all the conditions
are met. Raised by his late uncle Lepani Ravouvou, a cattle farmer
himself, Sakiusa is quite familiar with the challenges and the potential
that exists within the beef industry.

Now a husband and a father, he lives on a 374 acre farm in Dreke with
his wife and three children where he has a livestock count of 34 cattle and
36 goats which he is working on increasing.

While attending high school in Suva in 1989, Sakiusa noticed that the
family farm was deteriorating so he asked his father to send him to
Navuso Agricultural College where he spent the next two years. It was
here that his commitment to farming was reaffirmed. He joined the then
Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries & Forests (MAFF) in 1992 where for
the next four years he gained the necessary experience before deciding to
give up the security of a paying job to return to the farm to eke out a
living for his family.

“It was my uncle’s influence that got me hooked onto beef farming. He
was a beef farmer who started his business with a loan from the Fiji
Development Bank but as time went by when he couldn’t take care of his
farm I stepped in,” Sakiusa said.

“In the back of my mind, I always wondered how my uncle did as well as
he did with his beef farm without any academic qualifications and how
much more I could go with the knowledge I’ve gained from growing up
on the farm and from Navuso.”

In 2011, Sakiusa approached the FDB branch in Sigatoka for a loan to
improve his farm.

“I had gone to one of the commercial banks to enquire but there were a
lot of requirements involved so I tried FDB and I was glad I did because
they were very helpful and got me started. From the FDB assistance I was
able to improve fencing and purchase an additional 11 heads of cattle,”
Sakiusa said.

Sakiusa was assisted under FDB’s beef farming loan facility which is
tailor made for beef farmers, seed stock farmers, butchers, and
processors. This facility can assist farmers in the purchase of land,
construction of farm house, purchase of vehicle, equipment, machinery
and stocks.

FDB also offers assistance under its Import Substitution and Export
Finance Facility (ISEFF).This facility is targeted to assist exporters and
large scale agricultural farming businesses to borrow at a concessional
rate from FDB. The import substitution component of this facility
provides financing to farmers cultivating crops and raising livestock for
domestic consumption so as to reduce reliance on the import of the same
commodity. Beef and dairy farming are on the import substitution list due
to the decrease in beef production locally.

While Fiji is self-sufficient in the lower grade beef, much of the high-
quality cuts used by the hotel industry are imported. In 2011, the local
production of beef was 1,761 tonnes and 1,206 tonnes valued at $7million
were imported from Australia and New Zealand. The country’s beef
production in 1987 was 3,762 tonnes which would have exceeded the
total demand of beef for 2011.

Reduction in beef have been attributed to factors such as uncontrolled
slaughtering of cattles in the country especially in villages; low number
of cattles with respect to increasing demand; major cattles areas such as
estates in Vanua Levu no longer into beef farming as cattle takes longer
to rear so they have shifted to alternative livelihoods; and poor nutrition
of cattles because pasture doesn’t have all the required nutrients as soil
have been heavily leached.

The export component of ISEFF is available to any locally owned
enterprise that is interested in exporting local commodities abroad. The
ISEFF facility is available at 6% per annum.

Looking back to when his uncle managed the farm, Sakiusa
acknowledges the increase in the sale price of beef. Five years ago the
Fiji Meats Industry Board (FMIB) bought beef for $3.60 per kilo
(dressed) and today this has gone up to $4.60 per kilo.

“There is demand for beef so there is a market for me. At the moment I
can sell each head of cattle for between $600 and $800 each live weight
to a middle man. If I get the opportunity to sell straight to the FMIB I
could get more. I have had talks with FMIB and they have assured me of
their demand for the meat. So my focus is to improve my farm in terms of
increasing my stock and farming infrastructure. Hopefully I can start
selling early next year.”

Alongside his livestock venture, Sakiusa plants cash crops such as
pineapple and cassava to supplement his income. The goats are sold at the
farm gate from $150 to $400 depending on the sizes.

“For the past two years, I have seen the change in the quality of life for
my family. I am able to educate my children from the money the farm
brings in, repay my loan and put food on the table. I’m aiming to pay off
my loan the next five years and possibly take a further loan to continue
developing my farm,” Sakiusa said.


Resting with his goats

Sakiusa tending to his cattles


Sakiusa's Cattle stock

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