GOVERNMENT yesterday announced a major initiative to encourage young people to become farmers.
And they will set up a scholarship program in conjunction with the Fiji National University (FNU) in which 50 form six or seven graduates each year will attend a 12-month certificate course that trains them in various agricultural disciplines. When they graduate, each student will receive a loan package to the value of $70,000, to cover the costs of:
* 100 acres of farm land
* a tractor and basic farm implements
* fertiliser and other materials
* a house and shed and start-up cash of $2000.
Each student will be supervised by an agricultural extension officer and given specific performance targets. The government hopes to attract many more young people to become farmers, give them sustainable livelihoods, boost the nation's food security and reduce Fiji's dependence on imported food.
Agriculture minister Lieutenant-Colonel Inia Seruiratu said this was a great initiative focusing on their future and sustaining of developments. "We need to empower them with the necessary knowledge and most importantly changing their mind-sets," he said.