A poultry farmer in Kadavu swears by the organic fertiliser he self-produces for his farm, after seeing its impact on the soil.
Besides his layer bird farm, 54 year old Mr Taniela Kama also grows vegetables, yaqona, and yasi on the ten-acre Mataqali Buregadro land in Viyasiyasi, Tavuki, Kadavu.
Speaking in i-taukei, Mr Kama said the last time he used chemical fertilisers was back in 2012.
He said he chose to stop using chemical fertilisers because he saw that it had a negative impact on the soil. Since then, he opted to use chicken and goat manure mixed with food waste from a compost pit he dug, to place on his produce including the yasi and yaqona plants. He has been farming for the last ten years and began with green leafy vegetables.
The Tavuki villager was assisted by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2011 with a shed, 300 layer birds, and chicken feed to kick start his poultry business, valued at a total of $26,000.
At that time, Mr Kama said he had researched on starting a poultry business and came to the conclusion that it would be a brilliant idea as the waste from the layer birds could be used as manure for his produce. He said he was interested in poultry farming because nothing was wasted and all was recycled back into the soil and made the soil healthy. In turn, he said, the vegetables, yaqona and even yasi plants grew well. As such, business was booming.
Today, Mr Kama is also selling his self-produced organic manure to other farmers on the island and has received positive feedback. His livestock includes 500 chickens, 55 goats, 13 ducks, and 13 local chickens. He already has 6,000 yaqona plants in the ground and expects to harvest first quarter next year.
He supplies 150 eggs weekly to a supermarket on Kadavu. He said he was now focused on trying to meet the high demand of eggs and would be re-investing in his poultry business when he harvests his yaqona next year.
Mr Kama was awarded the 2020 Farmer of the Year Award (Central/Eastern) during the Agriculture Show in Nausori last month. Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy said Mr Kama was the classic example of the ideal farmer who practiced safe farm management.
“Mr Kama is exactly the kind of farmer whose farm management practice in terms of fertiliser usage is what I have been promoting in my direct engagement with farmers. “The message I have been saying, is for farmers to use organic fertiliser on their produce because it is not only safe for consumers of those commodities but it is also safe for the environment.
“That is why I have been promoting compost pits for all villages,” he said. The Minister thanked Mr Kama for setting the example and urged other farmers to use organic manure. Minister Reddy was in Kadavu on Wednesday (18.11.20) to visit a few agriculture projects before joining the Prime Minister, the Hon. Voreqe Bainimarama and other Cabinet Ministers for the commissioning of the Namuana Village Seawall project.