‘Giv­ing up is not an op­tion’

Fiji Sun - - Sunbiz - Source: FIJI DE­VEL­OP­MENT BANK Feed­back: maraia.vula@fi­jisun.com.fj

Award-win­ning, dairy farmer Chan­dra Lekha man­ages her 36 herd cat­tle farm all by her­self at Vu­nidawa in the prov­ince of Naitasiri.

A dairy farmer since she was only 24 years of age, Ms Lekha is orig­i­nally from Si­ga­toka but set­tled in Vu­nidawa fol­low­ing her mar­riage to her late hus­band who started their cat­tle farm busi­ness.

Ms Lekha is tes­ti­mony of the word per­se­ver­ance in ev­ery sense. Over the years she has sur­faced tri­umphantly from the strug­gles of trop­i­cal cy­clones Amy, Thomas and re­cently Win­ston which al­most left her home and farm dev­as­tated.

“But Hur­ri­cane Kina in 1993 was most heart­break­ing,” she said.

“We lost ev­ery­thing. I also lost my hus­band from heart at­tack af­ter Kina. The worry must have got to him. I lost my ev­ery­thing,” said Ms Lekha. De­spite her grave loss, Ms Lekha con­tin­ued her hus­band’s dream and re­built af­ter Hur­ri­cane Kina.

She re­turned to FDB for fi­nance. “My hus­band started our farm through fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance from FDB in 1976,” she said.

“The ini­tial loan ap­proval was of $9,000 on 15 De­cem­ber 1976.

“She then took a loan for de­vel­op­ment cost and to date has been a client of FDB.

The bank has fi­nanced Ms Lekha’s busi­ness with the value of $87,715.24 since 1976.

The mother of four man­ages her 59 acres free­hold land and even at the age of 65 proudly re­marked,

“I am still able to milk 15 cows my­self. Of the 36, 20 are milk­ing cows. They pro­duce 70 liters of milk per day, earn­ing a weekly in­come of $315 at 0.80 / liter,” she said.

Ms Lekha said be­fore Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Win­ston pro­duc­tion was 100 liters.

“Win­ston was re­ally bad. But one has to keep go­ing. I have seen many cy­clones but giv­ing up was not an op­tion,” said Lekha.

“Don’t break. Keep try­ing and plus I got help from FDB and re­built the busi­ness,” she said. Ad­di­tion­ally, Ms Lekha plants dalo on her farm most of which is flat land. “The land has been de­vel­oped with 10,000 dalo of var­i­ous ages and as­sorted veg­eta­bles.

“We also have a creek which is the ma­jor source of wa­ter sup­ply and helps with ir­ri­ga­tion,” she said.

Ms Lekha was recog­nised by FDB at the launch of the Bank’s 50th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions in July 2017 for be­ing the long­est serv­ing client from the Cen­tral Divi­sion.

The Bank is grate­ful for Ms Lekha’s con­sis­tent con­fi­dence in its ser­vices.

The bank has fi­nanced Ms Lekha’s busi­ness with the value of $87,715.24 since 1976.

Dairy farmer Chan­dra Lekha.

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