KAVAIA Sacuqa's search for employment after completing Form Six two years ago was like looking for a needle in a haystack.
But he never gave up. He looked this way and that way for an opening but there was none. Then he turned to farming and it was a decision that proved a winner for the 18-year-old of Navidamu Village in Macuata.
This week, he harvested the first lot of more than 1000 dalo plants he planted in April. He took 20 bundles of dalo to Labasa market and sold them for $12 each and collected $240.
The amount, he said, was impossible to gain in a week if he had found a casual job. "I am glad I decided to join the Macuata provincial youth group. "They helped me find this self-employed job which has a financial reward," Kavaia said.
"There are programs suitable for youths such as me and especially village youths because the land and sea is around us and we can make use of our resources and earn money from it. "All we have to do is know what to do and for that, we seek advice from the experts."
After joining the youth group last year, Kavaia was sent to the Naleba training centre in September where he took up agriculture courses for three months. While at the centre, Kavaia realised how fortunate indigenous youths are as they own the resources that could be used as a source of employment.
"The thought encouraged me to make use of the land, even the piece of land behind our backyard as it would at least provide money to support the family." The thought was also a turning point for the Navidamu lad who decided to start his own farm and plant dalo and yaqona.
When he graduated from the centre December, he got in touch with an uncle at Wainunu in Bua and asked for a piece of land to farm. "My uncle in Wainunu has huge farms of dalo and yaqona so I asked him if I could plant my dalo and yaqona near his farm on a piece of his land.
"He accepted me and here I am in the market selling my dalo," he smiled. "I have never seen such a rewarding job that can bring in a lot of money. Starting the farm was not an easy job," he said.
"First we had to clear the land, dig it up and divide it into plots. "It was the hardest bit but it all turned out successful and I am seeing the rewards for the first time."
When Kavaia arrived at the market, other market vendors and middlemen rushed to buy his bundles of dalo which had eight or nine big dalos for $12 a bundle. With the money earned from his first harvest, Kavaia plans to expand his farm.
"It is good money and while I have the blessings of my uncle to use his land, I might as well plant more and save for the future. "I am still young and I have a long way to go in life but if I work hard now, only I will reap the benefits later on.
"There is no substitute for hard work if you want to get what you are aiming for in life. "
Adapted from Fijitimes.com November 15th, 2007