Farmer Champions Food Security, Healthy Lifestyle


Championing food security as well as supporting healthy eating habits have raised the profile of farmers in the country and are the reasons why 25-year old Rishi Goundar of Raiwaqa, Navua, has taken up farming.

Born and raised in Suva, the young lad says he hopes that through his story young people will be able to change the perception towards farmers from wearing ragged clothes to rather those people providing healthy meals on their tables.

Situated a kilometre from the main highway, the 94-acre farmland caters for livestock farming majority of which is sheep with plans to venture into organic farming.

“I have moved here with my family which consists of just my mother, so far so good,” Mr Goundar said.

“What really interests me is the fact that there has been a change in lifestyle, this all started with the different sickness that a lot of people were contracting which made the generation before us think they never had those illnesses because of subsistence farming where they grew their own food.” Mr Goundar argued that with westernisation people’s mindset changed and due to that a lot of people started getting into processed food as it was more convenient but actually people do not know what goes in their food. “So that’s why I am here to contribute to the food security of the country and another big issue is non-communicable disease (NCD), there is so much awareness about it and less things being done in terms of what people consume that creates more diseases.” Mr Goundar had received assistance from the Ministry of Waterways last year in the form of proper irrigation and drainage on farm.

“One of the major issues in Navua is the rain and basically controlling the water in a more controlled environment. This is where the Ministry of Waterways has assisted us quite a lot in terms of irrigation and the collection of water. That is the assistance that we have received so far and we have been assured of continued support by the Government once everything is settled.”

Since the Navua area is prone to flooding, for farmers one of the main priorities is having proper irrigation system. “This is one way I can look after my livestock, by ensuring proper fencing and for the use of fertilizer; I try to minimize the use of weedicides and harmful chemicals that can eventually go into the waterways and kill everything else.”

“I had done a bit of research and I do not necessarily want to follow everything in the traditional way of farming, especially those practices that damage the environment, I will include modern ways of farming,” Mr Goundar said. “I have learned quite a bit and in terms of irrigation we have improved a lot in terms of having proper drainage.” Previously owning a retail and wholesale business Mr Goundar’s family had to sell their properties, rent a few and go big with their farming business. “I hope to see a couple of processing warehouses here, value adding and probably creating a lot of jobs in this community especially in the Namosi, Serua and Navua areas.”

“Providing jobs to this people would greatly address the unemployment rate in these areas.” A graduate of the University of the South Pacific with a degree in business marketing, Mr Goundar admits that for young person when they think of business the first thing that comes to mind is monetary value which should not be the only priority or the perspective.

“For any child as they come through life they always perceive farmers as people in ragged clothes or seen engaged in menial task but it was never put that focus on the farmer that provides you food on your table especially for fresh food that is healthy for you.”