Saro thankful for cash for cultivation initiative

Iliesa Saro, 75, is thankful to the Australian Government for the assistance rendered to him under that Cash for Cultivation Initiative that allowed him to work on his land for sustainable livelihood.

Living alone with his wife in their home in Toga, Rewa, Iliesa’s family depends on agriculture for survival. They utilize their land planting dalo and cassava and these have been their source of income and that has been the case for the past 50 years.

The long wet season and unfavourable weather conditions brought about by TC Yasa and TC Ana during the 2020-2021 Christmas and New Year’s period had somehow affected his ability to look after his farm.

With uncultivated land left overgrown, he was able to cultivate his land again through the cash assistance from ADRA Fiji and the Ministry of Agriculture that he applied for through his daughter Akosita Marama who is married and lives in the nearby Navatuyaba village.

The C4C Initiative is a partnership between the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Fiji and the Ministry of Agriculture Fiji to rehabilitate those affected by Tropical Cyclone Yasa and TC Ana.

“Au se teitei tu mai ena loma ni 50 na yabaki kau qarava mai kina na nodratou vuli na 6 na luvequ me yacova na gauna eratou sa cakacaka kina. Au a seg ani vuli Vinaka sara baleta na dredre ni kena qaravi noqu vuli kau a yalataki kina meu na qarava sara vakavinaka nodratou vuli – me ratou vuli ena kena I levu me ratou rawata nodratou bula.”

(I’ve been farming for 50 years to support my family and my 6 children’s education. I didn’t have a good education because my parents couldn’t afford to send me to school so I promised myself to work the land to ensure that my children got the best education.”

“Ia sa veisau mai na gauna. Sa da qase mai ka sega ni tautauvata na noda veiqaravi main a gauna koya. Kau vakavinavinaka kina na I lavo e ciqomi ni mai vukei saraga kina na cakacakataki ni qele.”

(Age is catching up and it affects my ability to look after the farm. I am grateful to the cash assistance received that helped to cultivate the land”

The Cash for Land Cultivation initiative gives farmers the choice to utilize the assistance on their priority needs whether to pay for labour, buy seedlings or crops, farming equipment or to meet whatever farming needs they have.

Originally from Nawaikama in Gau, Iliesa said the $200 money received was used to hire a tractor to plough the land and also to purchase manure. 

He was able to plant 5,000 dalo utilizing one acre of his land as well as cassava.

Iliesa revealed they usually harvest their crops and sell it to Agro Marketing in Nausori.

He was amongst the 1000 farmers who were assisted in the first phase of the initiative across Fiji for the purposes of land clearance, land preparation and planting material to re-establish a 1-acre plot.

A total of 766 farmers were assisted with $100 each by the Australian Government through the Australian High Commission In Fiji in the 1st phase and Australia in Fiji later invested $800k to fully fund the second 2nd phase of the initiative benefiting 3000 affected farmers.

Words and Photo: ADRA Fiji

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