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Gyan brings home the bacon
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26 October 2012

 During the course of an illustrious career as an educator and later

as a Labour member of parliament for the Magodro Open

Constituency (2001-2006), Gyan Singh, 54, has always found his

refuge in doing what he loves best - farming.

Settled back on his farm in Veisaru, Ba, far from the hum drum of

national politics or the stresses of a classroom, Gyan is happy

working the land raising livestock and sugar cane on his 21 acre

farm.  

“I have 50 sows now and my plan is to extend this piggery to a 100

sows in the very near future,” Gyan said of his burgeoning livestock

base that also includes ducks and chickens that number around 50

collectively.

Raised in a cane farming family from Veisaru, Gyan is one of nine

boys who despite a career in education and politics never lost his

passion for the land. He currently has 19 acres of his farm under

sugar cane with the remainder allocated for raising livestock.

“I got in touch with the Fiji Development Bank in 1986 when a

friend of mine who I attended school with, Arvind Babu, was a

loans officer in Ba. He told me to come and enquire with them after

I told him that I was intending to develop my farm. I’ve been with

FDB ever since,” Gyan said of his start with FDB which saw his

initial loan for farming equipment and seedlings under FDB’s

agricultural loan facility for sugar cane.

FDB’s sugar cane facility is designed to provide financial assistance

to eligible farmers who can access financing for land development,

land purchase, construction of farm house, purchase of farm

vehicles, machinery, equipment, implements and working capital.

In 2006, Gyan did a survey to ascertain what other commodity he

could diversify into given that his main crop, sugar cane was a

seasonal crop.

“I found that there was a high demand for pork so in 2007 I started

my piggery with assistance again from FDB as well as government

with just two sows. Now I have 50 sows and my farm is a

multiplication centre assisting farmers from Nadarivatu to

Sigatoka,” he said.

 “The story before has been like this, the farmers went to the

Ministry of Agriculture, they knock the door and they say, ‘here is

my backyard piggery, can I have a weaner?’ The Ministry does not

have weaners so they have assisted me with this multiplication

centre. Four years later, we are knocking the doors of the farmers

asking them, ‘where’s your piggery? Here are your weaners.’ The

farmers in the West can’t complain now because they have readily

available weaners and we also supply them with ducklings and

chicken.” Gyan is hopeful that one day he will increase his sow

numbers to 500.

Gyan has an integrated farming concept in mind that he says

would be ideal for most farmers because of its efficiency and cost

effectiveness. He is currently awaiting the installation of a bio-gas

digester that will turn waste material from the piggery into an

energy source for lighting and heating.

“The waste water goes down to a sedimentation pond where it is

cleaned and then moves into the fish pond. This has resulted in a

very good harvest of tilapia and prawns. The water is utilized this

way and the solid waste is transferred to the cane field and other

vegetables we intend to plant very soon,” he said of the

permacultural nature of his farm design.


On the other hand, he makes his own feed from his grinder and

chaff machine for his chicken, ducks and pigs from cane tops and

sugarcane together with other ingredients. However, Gyan stresses

that pig farmers in the Western Division have a major concern with

the abattoir in Ba.

“The main problem we have now is that our abattoir in the

Western Division is not HACCP certified and the hotels and food

outlets want our pork to come from a facility that is HACCP

certified. That needs to be taken care off immediately,” he said.

Hazard analysis and critical control points, or HACCP is a

systematic preventive approach to food safety and pharmaceutical

safety that identifies physical, allergenic, chemical, and biological

hazards in production processes that can cause the finished

product to be unsafe, and designs measurements to reduce these

risks to a safe level. In this manner, HACCP is referred as the

prevention of hazards rather than finished product inspection.

From two sows in 2007 to 50 in 2012, Gyan knows he isn’t too far

from 100 in the next few years and hopefully 500 not long after

that. With plans to become the largest piggery owner in the cane

belt, he is determined to make that dream come true.

   

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