CATTLE farming is a lucrative business that is still untapped says Ministry of Agriculture Young Farmer of the Year award winner Lenard Haynes.
Born and bred in Savusavu, he is one of the youngest cattle farmers who are making a difference in the market and has been recognised for his hard work after more than five years in the business.
"My grandfather was a cattle farmer and in 1989 my father Graham Haynes bought the farm in Savusavu and we started running it but we also have an estate at Maravu where I had grown up with this trade," My Haynes said.
He said he went to New Zealand for his education before spending two years in America before he decided to return to Savusavu and start his own cattle farming which he describes as a blessing.
Mr Haynes said he started from a 350-acre freehold land with 200 cattle after returned home in 2001 and now has two other properties with a total of 486 cattle.
"I have 14 people who work on the farm and its easier now that we have electric fence and its more cheaper to man the fields and we also have an abattoir and a butcher to sell our meat.
"It would have been expensive shipping the cattle over to Suva and so we have all this done here because we never know anything can happen. In some instances cattle have died while being transported which is a loss," he said.
Mr Haynes said he could not meet the demand for meat in Savusavu despite the number of cattle he had.
Mr Hayne said it was a lucrative business but needed a lot of hard work and funds.
'We have spent $200,000 for the last three years buying equipment and investing in the industry and we have had our days where we learn from our problems and mistakes and we move on.
"As for the staff, I also involve in the business and they can take and raise newborn calves and it is weighed and they take it to their settlement or villages to raise and sell it back to me after they are big enough to be slaughtered. Some of them get $300 to $400 from it.
"This is just another incentive for the workers and it makes them become reliable workers because they know they can collect their bonuses if they look after these calves."
He said he worked closely with the agricultural officers who had helped his farm with funding and advice.
Mr Hayne said the officers at Savusavu entered his name for the award and they had put together his portfolio for the entry.
"I was hoping to win. Last week they told me to be at the awards night and it has been an honour to win and I hope this will be an inspiration for other young farmers to work hard and be good at whatever farming they are involved in," he said.