STUDENTS who graduate with a certificate in commercial agriculture will be entitled to a special financial package from the government.
This package will include a piece of land, funds to assist in the purchase of farm implements, and the construction of homes — all aimed at assisting the graduates start commercial ventures, said Fiji National University vice-chancellor Dr Ganesh Chand.
He was speaking at the graduation ceremony this week of more than 600 teaching and commercial agriculture students at Lautoka's Girmit Centre.
Dr Chand said the joint partnership with the government was a good sign for the agriculture sector.
"Our aim is to see that education should be taken as close to the people and in that objective, we have been establishing facilities throughout Fiji and Lautoka, Nadi and Ba areas are no exception," he said.
"Agriculture is an important sector because it provides us with our food and is a multi-million dollar business."
Dr Chand said the FNU's recent opening of the aquaponics farm at Legalega in Nadi was also to help train students become certified farmers.
Education Minister Filipe Bole said the first batch of commercial agriculture students have been trained with modern agriculture techniques.
"You have the power to ensure that our acres of idle fertile land in Fiji be developed into large farms producing endless amounts of fruits, vegetables and livestock which will not only decrease our import bill but also ensure no one in Fiji isn't able to get access to good quality and readily available agricultural products during and off-season," he said.
Mr Bole said in order to further realise FNU's potential, the government had provided a capital grant of just more than $4million for the construction of a campus in Naiyaca, Labasa, as well as infrastructure development at its UniFarm project in Navua.