Ritesh’s success – Hardwork pays off

Ritesh Sharma at the Sigatoka Municipal Market. Picture: WATA SHAW

Ritesh Sharma is a familiar face at the Sigatoka Municipal Market and popular in the Coral Coast town’s agriculture sector.

That’s because he has been a devoted farmer for more than 24 years.

The father of three was first introduced to farming as a young boy and at 40 years of age, he shows no signs of slowing down.

Even though he did not complete school as intended, it did not deter him from earning an income.

“I dropped out of secondary school when I was Form four and from that time I started selling vegetables in the market,” Ritesh said.

“Initially, I sold vegetables for someone else. I would come with him in the morning, sell, then go back home. In 2007, shortly after I got married I decided to start my own business,” he said.

He moved out of Sigatoka Valley Road, a place that’s been his home since childhood and rented a house near town while waiting to secure his own place in Rakirakilevu settlement in 2011.

“As soon as I moved into my new home I ventured into a backyard farming project. “My main vegetables were lettuces, spinach, coriander, Chinese cabbages and mint leaves. Farming became a husband and wife team.”

Ritesh said his wife stayed home and worked in the garden and he opened a booth at the market. Straight after dawn everyday, he waters his crops and works in the garden before heading for the market.

“In the morning I usually start watering the garden at around 6am. I sometimes harvest some cabbages, and fill up a crate of lettuces and moca then I make my way to the market at 7am.

“If I sell everything fast I will go home at 3pm and other times I work until 7pm.” Income from the Sharmas’ farm venture was severely affected by the Covid-19 lockdown.

“Those two years were tough, many people were unemployed and could not afford to buy food. “Looking forward, I can see a change and I’m’ hopeful about the future.”

He said one of his greatest achievements was being awarded the ‘Backyard Farmer of the Year award’ for the Western Division by the Ministry of Agriculture.

“I was very happy to have won the award for three years in 2016, 2017 and 2020.

“The awards were a testament to my hard work throughout the years.”

Sharma’s advice to young people is to keep on trying and not give up when faced with difficulties in life.

“If you feel lazy in the morning you won’t achieve anything in life. If you want to venture out into farming like I did then I would say go for it.

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