The University of the South Pacific (USP-Samoa) and the Waikato Institute of Technology NZ (WINTEC) has completed a 12-week specialized training course for young farmers on horticulture and food safety practices, and the application of these skills in setting up a farm business.
According to organizers, the training is in line with Government efforts in supporting communities through the engagement of young farmers to build resilient communities, improve food safety, food security and overall economic growth.
The customized training is part of the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) funded project “Improved Livelihoods through increased protection of the Premium Cocoa Value Chain” aimed at empowering rural youth with transferable agribusiness skills to ensure they are able to earn sustainable
livelihoods from horticulture. The overall objective of the project, which started in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, is to increase resilience and protection of the premium cocoa sector, strengthen linkages between agriculture and tourism and the provision of structured training for youth to provide new income opportunities and promote wider gender-balanced participation for both value chains.
A total of 20 youths from farming families in Savaii graduated on the 11th of November 2022, after successfully completing the 12-week course at the Va-i-moana Hotel at Asau. (See main photo above)
According to the Trainers, participants were taught practical horticulture, food safety and entrepreneurial skills to enable them to develop their own farm businesses, earn an income and help their families. A major part of the training consisted of field visits to various farms and agribusinesses on Savaii Island to further enhance their practical learning.
During the graduation ceremony, selected students including the top student Tupu did a live demonstration of products they have produced during their training. One of these was making banana chips.
Trainers from USP and WINTEC NZ
Mr Keith Budd of SPS Biota NZ and leading contractor for the project encouraged the graduates to continuously improve their farming and business skills by learning from other farmers.
The program is grateful to other partners, such as the Government of Samoa through the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Savaii Koko and KVAConsult Ltd for the rendered support over the 12-week course and making this first cohort training a successful one.
This is one of the 2 planned training courses funded through the project. The dates and logistics for the next course are to be confirmed but will be held at USP Alafua campus early 2023. Further information regarding the next cohort will be announced once it is finalized early 2023.