Ranjana Malti manages 'Nature's Finest' from her family farm in Dilkusha, Nausori, on Fiji’s largest island, Viti Levu. Nausori is next to the Rewa River, Fiji's widest and longest river, which provides a gentle cooling breeze most days. Malti's day begins at 6 am, tending to her chickens, and she continues tirelessly packing and making deliveries, often not stopping until her children are home from school in the afternoon.
Image: New kids arrive at the farm.
In 2023, Malti joined Fiji THRIVE, a joint local business development program by Australian Business Volunteers and the Bank of South Pacific, Fiji. Malti was frustrated that there never seemed to be enough hours in the day. ABV mentors Kaylene Benson and Shean Gannon encouraged Malti to step back from the whirlwind and look for simple efficiencies, for example, making deliveries on two days instead of five. Since this change, she has more freedom and is already on her next endeavour—producing natural milk-based cosmetics from the goats she recently purchased.
The star of Nature's Finest is their exceptional honey. What began with a small loan from her mother-in-law and four hives has burgeoned into a thousand in just over a decade. The dry climates of Sigatoka and Nausori provide the ideal conditions for their hives; excessive rainfall can hinder bees from foraging on flowers, leading them to overconsume their own honey. Recently, she made a life-altering discovery: she has a severe bee allergy. Reflecting on the past decade, she considers herself incredibly fortunate to have avoided a reaction.
In 2020, with her husband now managing the hives, Malti bought a hundred retired chickens in a post-COVID sale at a price of three birds for $15. Over three years, she has grown this flock to a staggering six-hundred and eighty, which she solely manages alongside her flock of ducks.
Image: Nature's Finest Honey Logo.
Despite her accomplishments, Malti is humble, acknowledging that she still feels like "one-quarter of an expert," continually learning from fellow farmers and online resources. She has streamlined egg production through self-teaching and trial and error, learning when and how the best laying happens.
A common request in mentoring with ABV is how businesses can determine their actual costs and create a sustainable profit. Malti needed help finding a costing system that accurately reflects the quality of her products while maintaining affordability, which she now has the financial tools to do.
When we asked Malti how she's managed to keep expanding her business year after year despite setbacks, she said, "I can make something out of anything."
Image: Cows gazing on the farm paddocks.
Image: Ranjana's team working on the land.