• Distinguished Guests
• Trainers
• Graduating Trainees
• Parents, Ladies and Gentlemen

Bula vinaka, Namaste, Salaam Aleikum and Good morning to you all.

It is that time of the year when we gather to celebrate the accomplishments of our Naleba graduates and the training centre itself.

The Ministry wishes to congratulate all of you for successfully completing the four month training program and my hearty congratulations to our first ever female trainees and graduates from Naleba.

You have defied all odds to come, live together and learn showing mental toughness equal to that of your male counterparts in a field traditionally viewed as male.

Thank you once again for the milestone achieved and we hope this will set a precedent for other young women to come and learn just as you have done. Please spread the word as we are open for business for both young men and young women.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Government is educating farmers on “climate smart” agriculture through our partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and other agencies.

The certificate III in General Agriculture includes Organic Farming and I encourage you to pursue this approach.
As we have just come out of COP23, it is important for us to “walk the talk” and reduce our pollution levels and that includes reducing reliance on pesticides and fertiliser.

Of course, using pesticides and fertilisers is much easier but there is an increasing demand for organic produce and you will take the lead with what you have learned here.

Organic farming has a niche market in Fiji and is a high value product on the local and international markets including hotel chains.

Further, this also allows you to transfer the knowledge to other farmers in yoru community.

To all the trainees, the onset of climate change warrants you, to “think smart” and also “farm smart” in the manner you will pursue your agricultural projects.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Ministry of Youth and Sports is committed to ensuring young people are successful and achieving their goals in all avenues of entrepreneurship and income generating projects.

We will be there to provide adequate monitoring, provide follow up visits and also offer some basic assistance according to your farming needs on the ground. However, we are there to support and empower as we believe that you should be able very soon to run your enterprise yourself without our assistance.

Therefore, the Youth Training Centre Naleba has been on the forefront of such initiatives to train and equip youths from the North on new and better approaches of land use.

I know that what you have learned will be an anchor in your life journey – it will provide you opportunities to become self–employed, fully employed and become successful in your future endeavours.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Trainers and Trainees, we are working to ensure that we meet our mandate in the area of non-formal education. My Ministry is determined to help young people gain skills to contribute to the economy.

We have therefore looking to expand our training offer at Naleba over the next few years. If we are successful, we will be able to provide training in:
• Carpentry and Joinery
• Welding and Fabrication
• Electrical
• Plumbing and
• Mechanical just to name a few.

Such expansion will be exciting as we give meaning to the “Look North” policy and help young people meet the demands to expand our economy in the North.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Fiji is a young country with around 62% of the population below the age of 35. Therefore, it is our strong belief that effective engagement of youth in the economy, society and the political sphere will stimulate growth and development.

Government continues to ensure that education, employment and leadership opportunities are provided to young Fijians. We need to build on our diversity and play to our strengths. We need to build for the future together.

Finally, my sincere appreciation to parents and guardians for your support and prayers, thank you to Mr Colati and Rupeni for coordinating the training with support from colleagues providing catering.

Thank you to the stakeholders and partners for supporting our young people over the years.

I wish all of you graduating trainees all the best and every success in your future. We have invested in you and we look forward to watching you as you develop and expand your farming potential.

May you all have a merry Christmas, a happy and promising new year.

Vinaka, Dhanyabad, Shokran and Thank you all.