Caption: Saten at his backyard farm in Vunicuicui, Labasa.
What started as a hobby 14 years ago to occupy his evenings and weekends is now paying dividends for the once backyard farmer from Vunicuicui, Labasa.
By day Satendra Sharma, 45, is a parts Manager in Labasa. When he?s not at his usual place of employment, Saten can be found tending to his poultry farm.
Saten?s egg laying venture started in 1999 with a small shed containing 50 chickens. Nowadays, his 15 acre farm has grown to 550 layer birds, 100 meat birds and 150 Muscovy ducks. His agricultural exploits was rewarded in 2011 when he won the agricultural category at the FDB Small Business Awards.
?I was really overjoyed hearing my name being announced as a winner. Competing with people who farm for a living, I didn?t think I could win,? Saten said.
?The prize money I received from the award really assisted in meeting some costs on my farm and also encouraged me to do more for the farm. I was also able to gain new clients as people began to recognize me from the publicity that was provided after winning the agriculture award.?
Category winners of the SBA which was launched on 14 August in Suva, get $1,500 in prize money and commendation prize winners, $500 each.
For Saten, the prize money has also helped him get his new sheep farming venture going. He managed to purchase seven heads which he is using to build up his stocks. To date he has 11 heads for which he has set aside 10 acres of his land.
Saten is currently one of the major suppliers of eggs to shops and restaurants in Labasa.
Apart from family members that look after the farm, he takes on an additional farm hand when needed from time to time. He plans to take on farming full time when he eventually retires.