On sweltering day in Suva this month, a sea of proud agriculture students decked out in bright blue graduation gowns and salusalus (garlands) posed for selfies with their families. Graduates of the Fiji National University’s Bachelor of Science (Agriculture) program, shared why they studied agriculture.
“I’m from a farming background, my father is a farmer. So that encouraged me to join the field of agriculture. I want to pursue this in the field, so this was theory, I want to do it in the field,” said Shayal from Fiji’s ‘salad bowl’, the fertile area of Sigatoka.
In its 2017 report, The Future of Work, the International Labour Organisation stated that the relative value added by the agricultural sector is significant, 22 per cent if PNG is included and 15 per cent if it is not, and that in terms of employment by sector, agriculture employs an average of 67.3 per cent of workforces in Pacific Island countries.
The ILO contends that Pacific employment growth opportunities lay in few key sectors: agriculture, forestry, mining, fishing, tourism and business process outsourcing. Its authors write that agriculture continues to be the region’s main employer, absorbing the growing labour force: “There is potential for formal employment in agriculture to expand, especially if PIC governments pursue strategies to support agricultural niche products, use ICT for agriculture, and expand linkages between agriculture and tourism.”
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