Home away from home

Vegetable farmer and exporter Daljit Singh Grewal with his dogs at his farm in Waimalika in Sabeto. Picture: NAVNESH REDDY

Daljit Singh Grewal travelled to Fiji six years ago after a friend told him it was a “mini India”. The description intrigued him.

How could a tiny South Pacific Island nation have any link — social, economical or otherwise — with the bustling Asian metropolis.

When he arrived in Nadi, Mr Grewal saw nothing but potential in the under-utilised land that lay idle.

While the businessman found Fiji exciting from a socio-economic point of view, many found his personal journey just as intriguing.

“I was born into a farming family in Ludiana, Punjab, India and I moved to England when I was around 20-years-old,” he said.

Mr Grewal married his British-born wife immediately after arriving in England and in his 20-year stint in the country, he operated a string of businesses.

“I did a total of 18 businesses, from operating general stores to liquor shops. I got married while I was in England and have three children now.”

After two decades in England, he moved to New Zealand in 2005, after falling in love with the Land of the Long White Cloud during a short visit there previously.

“Following my short visit to New Zealand, I brought my entire family to live here.”

After establishing a rural real estate business for eight years in New Zealand, he visited Fiji with a friend in 2011. Mr Grewal said he was captivated by the people, the environment and “the endless agricultural potential”.

“I was a qualified rural real estate agent and I did my business in the real estate sector for around 12 years.

“A friend coaxed me to travel with him to Fiji after referring to the country as ‘mini India’. And when I got here, I felt I could do a lot of investment in the local agriculture.”

Once he settled in Fiji, Mr Grewal witnessed first-hand, the Pacific’s susceptibility to tropical cyclones, an experience quite new to him.

While admitting to being caught off guard, he said he had learnt enough over the past six years to help him cope with the challenge.

“I was born into a farming family, so I already had a lot of experience of farm life. However, the challenges in farming in Fiji were totally new to me, I had never experienced the magnitude of cyclones such as those I experienced here.”

Six years on and Mr Grewal still believes Fiji has the potential to be a great agriculture nation. He believes the secret to success was to learn something new everyday and to use this new knowledge to make the necessary adjustments and improvements.

“I want to keep on learning everyday and this not only applies to business.

“I am avid sports fan and keen sportsman during my younger days. I competed in cycling and boxing. I do poultry farming and also have an aquaculture pond as well.”

His advice to young Fijians was to “move away from the noodles eating culture” and to eat fresh food readily available across the country. Mr Grewal lives in Waimalika, Sabeto, Nadi.

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