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Forestry skills training open door to opportunities

Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum handed over Certificates of Participation to trainees who recently graduated from a three-week Forestry training workshop in Nadi.

Eighty nine youths, men and one woman from Narewa, Nakavu and Namotomoto villages in Nadi are now better equipped with forestry skill sets, giving them opportunities for job success and improved lives.

This is after a strenuous three-week training on basic skills in chainsaw operations, silviculture and nursery training, portable sawmill training and sustainable forest management was facilitated by the Ministry of Forestry.

The Ministry's priority is on providing technical assistance to all Fijians who need and want training, and community empowerment is a crucial part of that effort.

The 89 participants were awarded their Certificate of Participation by the Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum last Saturday.

In his remarks, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum acknowledged the participants for devoting their time to improving their knowledge and abilities.

He highlighted that the Government has invested around $1 million annually in short-course training programmes, including sustainable forest management as well as forestry related skills needed to acquire jobs locally and/or overseas.

The A-G reminded them that while there were employment prospects in Australia and New Zealand, Fiji also needed people with these skill sets.

He encouraged them not to stop learning or up skilling themselves after this phase.

"Remember one thing, when you up skill yourselves, whether it is a certificate, a Diploma, Degree or a masters or whether it is a certificate one, two, three, or four, whichever one it is, it is yours forever. Once you get a qualification, it is yours. Nobody can take it away from you," Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

Narewa/Nakavu/Namotomoto youth coordinator, Asinate Dawai acknowledged the Government through the Ministry for supporting people, especially youths, through such training.

She also commended Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama for providing equal opportunities for all Fijians. These trainings were requested during the Prime Minister’s tour in late June and was approved upon.

"It was a difficult training for us to absorb so much information in three weeks, but the hard-working team from the Ministry of Forestry helped us to achieve our ambitions," Ms Dawai said.

“This programme, through training and work experience, will prepare the participants for a wide variety of forestry-related jobs, putting them on the path to better opportunities wherever they go.”

She said some participants also came from other provinces to be part of the training.

The majority of the participants are either farmers or unemployed, and they were brought on board to provide them the opportunity to accomplish something that would enable them to provide for their families.

Ms Dawai said the participants would also be available to assist communities in Nadi and nearby areas during natural disasters, making these skills a valuable investment.

They could assist with clearing, sawmilling, and other rehabilitation tasks involving chainsaws.

The first two trainings had been conducted in November last year to 20 participants. Out of the 20 trained last year, 19 have already left our shores and are now employed in the forest industries in New Zealand, and providing for their families in Fiji. So Fiji’s economy also benefits through these remittances.

Meanwhile, with reference to empowering rural and maritime communities with forestry training, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the Government had been investing in portable sawmills in provinces with large pine plantations.

He said the reason for this was to help villagers to improve their living standards by sawing their own timber to improve their housing needs through renovations or building new houses. 

In addition, they can market their timber in Suva and other markets on Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.

The Vanua of Nadi was largely represented, coming in to support their trainees and to show appreciation to the Government for the training support rendered by the Ministry of Forestry to their people.


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