Waibuta on strategy to retain youth

Navuso Agricultural Technical Institute head Uraia Waibuta. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

Developing the agriculture sector and making farming a commercial business could entice young people to remain in Fiji instead of leaving to work on Australian farms.

Navuso Agricultural Technical Institute head Uraia Waibuta said this while speaking about the initiatives they had for their graduates to deter them from seeking employment under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme.

He said the institute brought young men and women from informal settlements and different backgrounds together and trained them in all areas of farming and then helped them secure land upon graduating after three years.

“Our core role is to make our graduates remain in Fiji and not go into the National Employment Centre (NEC),” he said.

“Someone must produce food for food security and for export. If everybody goes, then who will produce?

“Our young boys are trained to become replacement farmers. We prepare them and they need to produce and get it into the market.

“We have attachment programs. “They go for six months, return, and invest in their farms, go work in a dairy farm in Australia, get the skill and the money, they invest it in their farms in Fiji.

“We haven’t had students who have gone to work in Australia for years, only on six-month contracts.”

He said their students were provided five-acre leases by the institute with all associated costs paid.

“This is a way to attract them, give the land to own as an asset and we provide them with programs, and we guide them. “We need to train our young people on how to make farming a business.

“There is vast land in Fiji that could be developed into commercial businesses, its right in front of us and we can do something about it if we work together.”

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