AS humans we cannot live without food or water in a day or so.
We only go without food when we are asleep. But once we are awake up, food is always the first thing on our mind.
In the mornings, many of us would go to the nearby shops, bread shop, market stalls to buy bread, cakes, fruits and vegetables.
In the evenings before going to bed, we must make sure theres something in our stomach before retiring for the night.
For some people, they capitalise on the food production to earn their living to sustain themselves and their families.
And there are people who see the importance of food production as a means of supporting themselves because they have gained financial benefit from their hard-work when toiling the land.
Meet Jimmy Koti, 53, from Tombulu village on Kolombangara in Western Province.
I recently caught up with him at the Gizo market, Western Provincial capital.
He was there with his wife to sell some of their locally grown vegetables and fruit trees which were produced from their gardens and farm.
Koti used to work for a number of logging companies in Isabel and Guadalcanal.
He worked as a driver and mechanic for some of logging companies like Earthmovers and Eastern Development Limited.
Although he did not reach a much higher education he had undertaken short courses and training in mechanic which qualifies him to fix vehicles and heavy plant machineries.
As a tradesman, he loves his job because he was able to work with heavy plant machines and earn a descent salary and continue to support his family.
It was during his time working on Guadalcanal that he met a lady and married to his wife Nelly, who comes from the Aola area in North East Guadalcanal.
Since then, he had settled with his wife there and they used to make gardens.
From what they usually harvested, they would sell them at the nearby villages or sometimes would take a long trip to Honiara to sell their produce at the Central Market.
And life was bit challenging because of the distance and time spent to travel to Honiara to sell their market produce.
But when the COVID-19 was declared in 2019, he decided to relocate his family to Kolombangara.
In 2022, they decided to move back to Kolombangara.
Since then, he and his wife have ventured into fulltime farming where they grow vegetables such as cabbage, fruit trees, pepper, potatoes, cassava and melon.
Although he was busy with his garden and farm, his skills as a mechanic is still with him.
Because of that, people who need his expertise to fix their outboard motors, generators and other things would visit him. And he would earn extra income from his private work.
During his free time, he would be busy supporting his wife to plant and look after their farms.
He said, unlike in Guadalcanal where he is not free to work and expand his farm, in Kolombangara, theres enough land to work and grow.
Mr Koti, since relocating to back to his home village, he never looked back because of the financial benefits he had gained from his farm.
The Kolei man said, most people are surprised to see him as a trades man and mechanic moving into farming but they did not realise the benefits from it.
“I now come to love farming because of the benefit I have seen from it,” he said.
Mr Koti and his wife would travel after every two week to Gizo or Poitete to sell their produce, when their harvest are ready.
Poitete is a station where most of the Kolombangara Forest Products Limited (KFPL) workers are based.
Sometimes, they would spend few days at Gizo to sell their produce and returned to the village.
Mr Koti had compared the money he had been earning when he was working for the logging companies and while living in Guadalcanal.
Now he is able to earn a much better income from the market sales.
“Money earned from the sales is just enough to support my family,” he said.
From the money earned from the market sales, he was able to pay for food, fuel, clothe, medical trips and school fees.
He said, one of the main expenses is school fee which is an important investment for the children.
“Supporting our children with school fee for their education is our top priority because of its future importance,” he said.
He also highlighted the increasing cost of living which is rising much faster.
“This increasing cost of living had continued to bring so much challenge to many rural parents.”
He added, the continuous shortage of fuel and rise in fuel price are two of the deciding factors in transporting their market produce to Gizo.
He said, when the price of fuel jumped late last year or when there was no fuel, it had also denied them the opportunity to travel to Gizo to sell all their produce.
“Because of that most our market produces were left to rot because we could not travel to Gizo,” he said.
Mr Koti said, Western Province have a lot of resources and people need to be smart and innovative to do things to do business inorder to support themselves rather than asking for support all the time from the provincial assembly or the member of parliament.
He said, as long as his health allows, he would continue to work, expand his farm and continue to sell his market produce.
Mr Koti concluded by encouraging other people out there to venture in agriculture sector because theres a lot of money from it.
By MOFFAT MAMU