Students learn farming under prison project
08 September, 2010
Parents, teachers, students, Ministry of Agriculture , Taiwanese Technical Mission and Fiji Prisons and Corrections
Service officials at Nacocolevu.
Parents and students of the Nasinu Secondary School were told that the notion that farming is only for students that do not perform well academically is false and misleading.
Fiji Prisons and Corrections Director of Corporate Services, Peniasi Kunatuba said this at the students’ graduation ceremony at the Nacocolevu Agriculture Research Station in Sigatoka.
The ceremony took place on Friday.
The students sacrificed their second term school holidays to be part of the FPCS Youth Outreach programme in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Taiwanese Technical Mission.
Mr Kunatuba said for too long, only children who did not do well in school were expected to do farming.
“This notion is wrong for farming is noble and honourable work,” he said.
“If farming was a second option, why then do people come from overseas and do large scale farming and make a lot of money,” he added.
Mr Kunatuba said Fiji was blessed with a lot of fertile and available land.
“We in Fiji are in a unique position, we have so much arable land, and our hotels need all the supply they can get from our local farmers,” he said.
“Government is also dependent on its people to grow more fruits and vegetables, so that we become less depended on imports,” he added.
The students were urged to make the most of the skills they have learnt in the two weeks at Nacocolevu.
“You students have been given the opportunity these past two weeks to learn proper fruit and vegetable farming skills so think seriously of pursuing farming as your profession,” the former Agriculture Permanent Secretary said.
“There are only so many white collar jobs, but so much land available for farming, you students have a head-start, so take advantage of the skills that you have learnt,” he added.
FPCS Public Relations Officer Fred Elbourne said the Nasinu Secondary students were the first students to participate in this farming project and it will be replicated for other schools.
“These students are the first,” he said.
“This programme is part of our two-prong approach to reduce our prisoner numbers,” he added.
The project also aims to keep the young people too busy to be tempted into being part of illegal activities.
“We not only change and develop those under our care, but also work outside the prison walls to prevent our young people entering prison,” he said.
Mr Elbourne said FPCS has mapped out areas where there are high incidences of crime and the high numbers of inmates.
“We have identified the Nasinu/Nausori corridor and have started working with students from these areas,” he said.
“What we have done so far is having selected students come into our Corrections Academy on weekends to learn life skills and to actually see and hear from inmates that prison is not glamorous,” he added.
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