By Tevita Ravumaidama, PHVA-Partners in Community Development Fiji (PCDF) and Monica Romano
Young people living in rural areas have the potential, as the farmers and producers of tomorrow, to help feed the world's growing population. But young people are increasingly abandoning agriculture and rural areas in search of better livelihoods in cities or abroad. In The Pacific island of Fiji, Joji Naikau returned to his rural hometown to invest in his farm and is showing great success.
Joji Naikau, 30, is a young man 30 living in Nadala village, Savaty district, in Ba province of Fiji. He is married with two children, and one of the beneficiaries of the Partnership in High Value Agriculture (PHVA) programme, an IFAD-supported grant targeting 13 villages and 7 settlements located in an impoverished district of Nadarivatu in the interior of Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu.
The USD 500,000 grant implemented during 2012-2015 aimed at increasing the income of the 200 farmers who participated by 20 per cent from the production of high value products, through enhanced market linkages and community empowerment.
Before joining the programme, Joji was not farming to earn his livelihoods. Despite owning 1.5 hectares of land, he had no knowledge and skills on how to use it for income generation. Therefore, he moved to Fiji’s capital of Suva and started to undertake mechanical work for an engineering company.
A few years ago while he was spending Christmas time in his village, he was approached by staff working for the IFAD-supported programme, and encouraged to participate in some training activities to learn how to put his land under production and to invest in farming as a business.