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Meena's Vision
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10 February 2012

 

Meena Gounder can add businesswoman cum poultry farmer to the list of roles that she already occupies – daughter, wife, mother and employee at a local computer company. The 34 year-old broiler farmer and farmer’s daughter of Soqeloa, Labasa is also a visionary.
 
“One day I was thinking about what kind of future my two daughters were going to have then I realized that I had to do something more so that they could have a better education later on,” she said of her decision a year ago, to take on the challenge of going into business.
 
“Life is very tough right now and business in town is not very good. I asked my father if there was something that we could do together. I have always raised chicken in my backyard so it made sense to do broiler farming as a business.”

With a small loan from a family member for equity, Meena applied for and received a grant from the Northern Development Programme to help her get started. Topped with a loan for broiler farming from the Fiji Development Bank, Meena built her poultry shed on a section of her father, Govind Sami Gounder’s, six acre farm and filled it with 150 layer birds in August last year.

 “My uncle lives overseas and when he heard that I wanted to do this business he was very encouraging and didn’t hesitate to lend me the money for my contribution and within a few months, I managed to repay the loan.”
 
FDB’s Broiler Farm (Small Chicken Holder Farm Project) loan covers the:
                              1.            Construction of the chicken shed;
                            2.             Development of site – bulldozing & levelling;
                            3.            Water and Plumbing costs – installation of Water Tanks and Water Pumps; and
                            4.            Infrastructure construction- contractual work on maintenance of roads, drains, etc.
 
Borrowers need a minimum of 20% equity contribution. The value of the land or costs incurred to acquire the same and improvements thereon can also be eligible to be counted as equity contribution.

 

 
    

 

A year on, Meena has 200 layer birds in full production with another 200 young chicks awaiting maturity. At current production, the layers provide 170 to 180 eggs a day to make up between 36 to 40 crates of 30 eggs each a week. The eggs are sold to people in neighbouring Vunivau as well as a local hotel in Labasa Town.

 

“Depending on the size of the eggs, I sell each crate for $10 or $11 and I manage to make a small profit after deducting the cost of feed, which is a lot more expensive now at $31.50 a bag then when I started, which was $25.50,” she said.
 
“In the near future, I want to increase the number of layers to about 1,000 because in this business you will only see a good profit if you have a higher production.”
 
To compliment her income from eggs sales, Meena also sells meat birds the side but only on a small scale because her sales are at the farm gate.
 
Govind is proud of his daughter’s achievement and says that what she has managed so far is all of her own doing.
 
“I didn’t do anything - this is all her hard work. All I did was provide her a space on the farm so she could build her shed,” he said.

 “Before, the cost of ploughing one acre was $30 for diesel and now that cost has risen to about $100 per acre for rice planting so I concentrate mainly on beans, cucumber and water melons for the market and plant rice only for my family’s needs,” Govind said.

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