IN A vision to take agriculture to a whole new different level, 46 tertiary students were awarded with government scholarships yesterday to study agriculture.
The government has partnered with the Fiji National University to pioneer the new scholarship program under which scholarship recipients will attend a 12-month certificate course at the FNU Agricultural School that will train them in the various agricultural disciplines.
Chief guest Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said under the program, agricultural graduates would emerge from their studies with a career path and significant government assistance to enable them to achieve their ambitions.
"When they graduate, each student will receive a loan package to the value of $70, 000.
"This will cover the cost 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," Commodore Bainimarama said.
FNU vice chancellor Dr Ganesh Chand said the university was an appropriate vehicle to provide technical, academic and research support for the sector that was the bedrock of the Fijian economy — agriculture.
"FNU is indeed proud to be part of this scheme and I look forward to the produce from the farms these lucky first scholarship recipients will establish to one day grace our dining tables," Dr Chand said.
"Through this scholarship scheme, we intend to produce the first group of competent students who will establish the scheme's first group of commercial farms."
One of the recipients, Shayal Prasad, 19, who comes from a farming background said she would make the most of this great opportunity.
"In five to 10 years time, I would like to see myself successful in the field of agriculture and contributing to the needs of the country," Shayal said. A total of 143 applications were received of which only 46 lucky students were selected.