A fruitful venture | School dropout owns two vehicles from selling fruits

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Prashant Swamy at his fruit stall in the Lautoka Municipal Market. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

When he was 14 years old Prashant Swamy made the tough decision to leave high school and venture into the world of business at the Lautoka Municipal Market to help his parents.

Eight years later, the former student of Tilak High School has bought two vehicles from his fruit-selling business. He operates from a booth beside his parent’s vegetable table.

The resident of Tomuka in Lautoka sells chilled pineapples and slices of watermelons for $2 from Monday to Saturday.

“I don’t regret not completing high school at all,” he said.

The 22-year-old has set his sights on buying a 10-acre piece of land at Vaivai in Ba to plant fruits and vegetables.

“I’ve been selling watermelons and pineapples at the Lautoka market for nearly 15 years now,” he said with confidence.

“Things are going good right now although it isn’t always that way.

“I started selling when I left Form 3 to help my mum and dad. When I was in primary school, I would come to help them every afternoon.

“Also, during the school holidays, I’d be at the market to help them sell vegetables.

“I decided to help my parents and my pineapple and watermelon business has flourished ever since.” Mr Swamy says his parents have been market vendors for more than 20 years.

“We are middlemen and buy our vegetable produce from suppliers, and most of the time we go to Ba and Rakiraki town.

“We’ve been selling at the Lautoka market for more than 20 years. My sister is in Form 6 now, but my dad stays home as I’ve taken over the business.”

Mr Swamy’s next big move is to venture into farming.

“I want to become a farmer when I turn 30 or 35. And becoming a pineapple farmer is good.”

Right now, Mr Swamy says pineapples are off-season and the price has increased to $30 a dozen while watermelons are in season.

“So, it’s $1 to $1.50 a kilogram.” As for how much he makes, he can earn up to between $400 and $500 a day.

“It also depends on the weather. And this business of selling pineapple and watermelons, nobody will tell you how to go with it.

“We have to find our own way.”

Mr Swamy’s target this year is to buy land at Vaivai in Ba.

“It’s a peaceful place. I’ll farm in Ba and travel to Lautoka. I have invested my money and have bought two vehicles, for which I’m making payments right now.”

For someone so young, Mr Swamy is mature beyond his years, and he feels confident enough to advise young folks that nothing in life comes easy, but it will be worth it in the end if you don’t give up.

“We must struggle, like sometimes the fruits and vegetables go bad, but we need to have a strong heart to try again.

“On some days I make a loss, but I do not give up. I continue with my daily routine of selling pineapples and watermelons. My education was not that good, but I still managed to earn money to help my family.

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