A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Empowering Young Farmers and Families

Fr Isaia Wairoga SM

Tutu Rural Training Centre, on the island of Taveuni in Fiji, is a Prioritised Ministry in the Oceania Marist Province. It has been developing for more than forty-five years.

The aim of our Training Centre is to provide a Place and a Presence where the local People are empowered to become more autonomous, and take charge of their own lives in a rapidly changing world. It involves a transforming and reciprocal outreach to the People of the Pacific.

Fr Isaia writes, “This year has been challenging for us as we faced the devastation of Covid-19 as well as tropical cyclones Harold and Sarai. While our usual programmes have come to a standstill, we are still so blessed that we live in a community that is very supportive and united for the mission. And in our hearts lies the importance of care for people and the mother land”.

Understanding the young farmers’ background

Two young men came from the province of Macuata and Cakaudrove in the northern division. They finished school at primary level. They realised that an option for self-employment is farming, but lacked guidance in farm management and the business aspects of farming. Coming to Tutu opened a door for them for future possibilities. Tutu provides them with the knowledge they need. Kava and dalo planting, along with what they learn in class each day, gives them hope and new meaning. They value their time here as important.

Updates on agro-forestry and fruit trees in Tutu

Agro-forestry is one of our main areas in which we are investing at present because we believe that it can contribute to the long-term financial sustainability of the training centre. Teak trees have been growing really well after the thinning and on-going maintenance. The recent selection process helps determine the outlook for future investment.

As well, exotic fruits like dragon fruit and soursop are abundant, and most of our production has been sold.

Groundwork during the Covid-19 pandemic

During the pandemic, TRTC has done a great deal of gardening for food security as well as growing short-term cash crops to support TRTC finances. Covid-19 makes us awake to the need for short-term crops like vegetables for quick returns. As well, hydroponic vegetable growing is being trialled.

Introducing new farming techniques

The building of a farm tunnel house for off-season vegetables opened another door for food security and for providing income for the TRTC and for families.This farming method helps to move away from subsistence farming and into commercial agriculture. Adapting to the new farming technique needs a change in mindset and attitudes towards farming. 

Within the Tutu bubble

A new venture for the food development unit is underway, using breadfruit flour for bread baking for the Tutu families while we are in lockdown. With the resources available at the centre we are able to make new products such as jams, chili sauce, curry powder, chili powder and other assorted spices.

“It isn’t the farm that makes the farmer. It’s the love, hard work and character”.   


Adapted, with permission, from JPIC blog, https://jpicblog.maristsm.org/marist-tutu-rural-training

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