Increasing urban migration, lack of income generating opportunities, low levels of interest in agriculture, and difficulties with access to land are just some of the issues affecting young people across the Pacific.
In 2014, the Vanuatu Farm Support Association (FSA) received technical assistance from the Marist Tutu Rural Training Centre (TRTC) (Fiji) under the PAPP-PIFON (Pacific Farmers Network) partnership to strengthen its training program in Tanna. The successful Tutu model long run by the Marist Catholic Order on Taveuni, Fiji, trains young people to be successful farmers on their own land.
The exchange enabled TRTC personnel to visit Napil Training Centre (NTC) and identify gaps and areas of strengthening that would better attract, retain and train youths. The benefits of that exchange have been tremendous. After 18 months of adapting to the Tutu model, Napil held its first graduation of young farmers in December 2016. A total of 10 young farmers completed the course (3 females and 7 males) with farms containing an impressive range of crops and livestock. These included 7,170 taro, 1,039 yams, 442 cassava plants, 519 sweet potato plants and 159 Kava plants. Stock also included cattle, pigs, and chicken and a plantation of over 200 sandalwood trees.
NPTC’s program focuses on participants growing their own vegetable seedlings. The Centre provides free vegetable seeds for the participants in their two years of cultivation, at a reduced cost (50%) and at full cost in the third and final years. Napil seeds and seedlings are also available for purchase by other farmers on Tanna. The availability of seeds and seedlings has made a significant contribution to the recent increase in fresh vegetable supplies on Tanna. Like Tutu, a bank account was established for each trainee at the commencement of the course. Vegetables grown by trainees on the Centre are sold at the Lenakel market and all of the proceeds paid into the trainee’s saving bank accounts. Already around VAT 610,500 (AUD7, 000) has been saved from these sales. For more information, see http://pafpnet.spc.int/helping-smallholder-markets/napil-training
About the Marist Tutu Rural Training Centre (TRTC): was established in 1969 in Taveuni and has been running their Young Farmer Training Course since 1983. Its stated purpose is “to help form and train young single men from the province of Cakaudrove to be autonomous, responsible, and mature young adults who are principle-led decision-makers, able to take control of their own lives and choose freely to live as farmers on their own land, accept their call to be of the village and be able to live in the service of others in their society”. From the 224 young men who have participated in the course to date, 206 (92%) are still farming as their main source of livelihood.