Wednesday, March 19, 2008


AT the age of 23, Joeli Lewaicei is a big-time yaqona farmer and middleman in the province of Cakaudrove in Vanua Levu.
He sells on average, 200 to 300 kilograms of yaqona every week to markets in Viti Levu.
The lad of Wailevu Village by the Natewa Bay in the district of Tunuloa has a 20-acre farm where he plants yaqona and dalo.
"I have been a supplier for more than four years now.
"I buy yaqona from farmers in surrounding villages and sell it to markets in Viti Levu through my partner at Nadi market.
"Apart from buying yaqona from farmers, I also get my own supply from the farm and send across to my business partner in Nadi who is also from the village," Joeli said.
He said he could send one tonne of yaqona a month and earn very good money.
In a week, Joeli can earn about $6000 from selling 200kg to 300kg of yaqona at $28 to $30 a kilo of waka or lewena.
"It is good money and I have orders from clients in Savusavu and Labasa.
"I sell at a very cheap price so I think that contributes to the good earnings I receive in a week."
There are some buyers he calls "trusted clients" to whom he sends yaqona by courier and the clients deposit his money in his bank account.
"Most of my clients are in Labasa and Suva but most of my supply goes to my partner at Nadi market who we started the farm together in the village.
"We used to be unemployed but after we started our farm and decided that one of us go to Nadi to sell our yaqona to the markets in Viti Levu, we have seen our business grow each day."
After seeing their business thrive, Joeli believes there is no reason for youths in villages not to be without work and money.
"We have a lot of land in the village and if youths are going to the urban centres to look for a job, I believe they are being misled because the land offers more money then white collar jobs.
"Even people with white collar jobs come and ask for small loans from me.
"That speaks much of how rich the land is and even at this young age, I have started my savings.
"Once I have saved enough, I plan on returning to continue my studies at tertiary school."
Joeli said without the support and advice of the Ministry of Youth, his business would not be as successful as it is today.
"They encouraged me to start my own farm and make it bigger.
"They showed me how I could turn it into a successful business with my partner in Nadi and I owe the ministry a great deal for their help and advice."
For now, Joeli's yaqona farm and middleman business is earning him good money.
But as everyone else in the business know, it will require some hard work from the start before you can enjoy.
No doubt he has done the hard work and is now reaping the fruits of his labour.
Joeli is a good example to all young men in the village with land but nothing to do.
There is money in the land but first you have to work hard before you can get it.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online