The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), supported by the European Union (EU), is conducting a national workshop for sugar sector officers titled ‘Understanding and Interpreting the Soil Resources of Fiji’. This workshop aims to create awareness on the importance of knowledge about the Soils of Fiji and to build the capacity of the extension officers to become potential trainers on Soil Description, Soil Assessments, Soil Interpretation and Crop Suitability.
The training, provided by SPC through its Land Resources Division, takes place 26–30 May in Nadi, Fiji, with 30 participants consisting of 26 men and 4 women from the Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC), Sugar Cane Growers Council, Cane Producers Association, Sugar Research Institute of Fiji, Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Rural Development.
The workshop is divided into three parts:
- Addressing Soil and Profile descriptions with associated field trips to describe Soil;
- Soil Classification, in particular Soil Taxonomy; and
- Analysing the recently published Reference manual for Utilising and Managing the Soil Resources of Fiji.
Sairusi Bulai, Deputy Director of the SPC Land Resources Division, says that there is a need for extension and field officers to have comprehensive knowledge and information on Soil and Crop Management, including aaccurate biophysical and economic information that they can disseminate to growers and farmers.
SPC and the EU are hoping that this training will go a long way towards addressing some of these constraints through better understanding by the participants of the Soil Resources of Fiji and Sustainable Cropping Options.
Mr Bulai concluded by saying that it is important for extension and field officers to approach the work with a positive attitude: ‘Encourage others to work together, be passionate about the work you do and have the right attitude!’
David Leslie, Soil Scientist, stressed that the participants were specifically selected for this workshop for their potential to take what they learn there and impart the knowledge to colleagues working in the sugar sector. A lot of published Soils information exists for Fiji and Mr Leslie stressed that extension officers should be able to access this from the Ministry of Agriculture and SPC and use them in their work. These publications complement what is learnt in this course.
At the end of the workshop, participants should be able to create a networking environment to enable all to exchange information and experiences and also receive continuous updates on crop production information.
Similar training will be held in Suva next week for agriculture extension officers and will be funded by the Global Environment Facility-Pacific Alliance for Sustainability (GEF-PAS) of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).
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Image 1 : Participants of the Training of Trainers on Understanding and Interpreting the Soil Resources of Fiji
Image 2: Exercise on Soil Physical Properties at Legalega Research Station
Image 3: Exercise on Soil Profile description at Legalega Research Station