Moving into a new country can be quite overwhelming as you try to adjust to the new environment, people and culture.
For 78-year-old Polera Saviore moving to Fiji from Italy was the best decision ever as he wanted a new start in what he calls a little piece of paradise.
After losing his wife 20 years ago, life was never the same and he wanted to venture into something different, but more so, move into a different country altogether.
“I packed up my life and moved to Fiji five years ago. I had to build my life from scratch so, after many months of going through processes, I finally acquired a 10-acre piece of land in Drasa Seaside, Lautoka which is now my home,” said Mr. Saviore.
Mr. Saviore added that the 10 acres of land were mostly bushland and also a few acres of sugar-cane which was still growing healthily.
“I left the sugar-cane to grow and decided to turn the bushland into my own shrimp farming project as well.
After much planning, I finally got in touch with the Ministry of Fisheries west-based office and was advised on all the necessary steps to take.”
Mr. Saviore says that new ventures have their fair share of challenges.
“Last year I had to build new roads around the farm so that I could have easy access and then dig up my ponds.”
Mr. Saviore says that he followed all the instructions given by the officials of the Ministry of Fisheries.
Total pond construction works totalled around $25,000 for two standard commercial size ponds.
When his ponds were ready, the Ministry supplied him with around 100,000 Post Larvae (Baby shrimp) which was stocked into his pond in December last year.
With regular visitations by the fisheries officers, he continued to improve on his shrimp farming venture with additional help from his farm manager.
“With the Vanammei shrimp species, extra care needs to be taken so I make sure that consistency is managed throughout it’s growing stages,” he added.
He also ensures that feeding is on time and water exchange and pond maintenance are carried out consistently.
The hard-working farmer buys fish from local fishermen to supplement the prawn pellets from Pacific Feed.
All the efforts put into the farm paid off when he started with his first harvest in April this year.
“I harvested a total number of 4,150 shrimps with a total weight of 90 kilograms. My second harvest was in May where 5,500 shrimps were sold at a total weight of 110 kilograms. My third harvest was earlier this month and another 5,500 shrimps were sold with a total weight of 100 kilograms,” he explained.
Mr. Saviore says that he is content with his current selling price of $30 per kilogram and hopes to expand his farm in the coming months.
“It is actually rewarding to see the benefits I am getting out of all the hard work poured into my shrimp farming venture,” he smiled.
He also adds that the demand for shrimps keeps increasing during harvesting.
“That is why I would like to increase my farm to cater for another pond.”
“There is so much available land here in Fiji and this time around, we should be working smarter. Look what COVID 19 brought about to the whole world?”
Mr. Saviore says that times ahead are uncertain and all we can do now is make the best decisions and move forward.
“If you have vacant land, I suggest that you utilise it whether for agricultural or aquaculture purposes. Please visit the respective Ministries and seek advice on the steps that you want to take. Just don’t leave the land idle or you will surely regret it in the trying times ahead.”
With both feet firmly on the ground, Mr. Saviore is not letting old age become an excuse.
“I am doing something positive with my life and that is something that all of us should do,” he smiled.
The Ministry of Fisheries hopes that more people will venture into aquaculture as a source of income and food security. Regional Manager (Western Division) Ms. Neomai Ravitu says that the interest by people in the west to venture into aquaculture has grown since COVID 19. The increased number of interests is in line with the Ministry’s direction of growing aquaculture rapidly.
“Interestingly, people who had their tilapia and shrimp farms dormant for years are now seeking our advice on how to get started again. It is a great sign for us and we are adamant to reach out to as many people as possible on the advantages of aquaculture,” explained Ms. Ravitu.
The Western Division has a total of over 100 aquaculture farms that are all operating and the numbers are expected to increase in months to come.