FNU Launches Short Course to Safeguard Plant Health in the Pacific

Posted On: July 2, 2024

Collaborative efforts between the Fiji National University (FNU) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) have seen the successful launch of the inaugural short courses for FNU’s College of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (CAFF).

The launch included opening the Plant Health Clinic short course, the first of its kind for CAFF, for 25 plant health clinicians from Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. The launch also marked CAFF’s strong support of ACIAR’s HORT: 2016/ 185 project on responding to emerging pests and disease threats to horticulture in the Pacific Islands.

With the specialised Plant Health Clinic short course being the first to be rolled out this week, these short courses positions CAFF as a leader in plant health, contributing to strengthening integrated crop management research and agricultural sustainability in the Pacific region.

Adi Salaseini Ligamamada, Director of Industry Training at the National Training and Productivity Centre (NTPC), highlighted the significance of the event for the future of plant health and food security.

“This marks a significant step forward in our collective effort to safeguard plant health in the Pacific region. The future of our food security and environmental well-being hinges on the health of our plant life,” said Ligamamada.

According to ACIAR Regional Manager Ms Mai Alagcan, it was important for ACIAR to support this shared initiative.

“This event marks a shared understanding and a shared vision of addressing an important issue not only in Fiji but around the region – plant health. Plants and food production affect livelihoods, sustainability and food security,” said Alagcan.

“That is why it was important, from ACIAR perspective that we are supporting this shared understanding, shared problem in agriculture, where research can address these issues.”

The Deputy Secretary of Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture and Waterways, Dr. Tekini Nakidakida stated that plant health clinics can be a game-changer for farmers.

“Plant health clinics are seen as the possible solution bringing accurate, up to date knowledge to farmers enabling them to care for their crops more effectively and in a timely manner,” said Dr Nakidakida.

CAFF Dean, Dr Kaliova Ravuiwasa, highlighted FNU’s evolving role in plant health.

“FNU has come a long way in the field of plant health, first as observers, to contributors to major players. Today, I am proud to say that plant health clinic is now integrated into our revised Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (with Honours) and Master’s degree programme,” said Dr Ravuiwasa.

The Plant Health Clinic short course offers a three – week intensive programme designed to equip participants with the skills and knowledge to effectively manage plant health clinic programmes.