The Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C) accorded The University of the South Pacific’s (U.S.P) Council Members a formal traditional Samoan welcome on Monday at the Alafua Campus in Samoa.
The delegation which visited the Alafua Campus ahead of the 82nd USP Council meeting included the U.S.P Pro-Chancellor Mr Winston Thompson, Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra, Tongan Prime Minister, Akilisi Pohiva, Education Ministers and representatives of the University’s 12 member states and observers from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
Following the traditional welcome ceremony, Council members were also given a tour of the Campus and were briefed on some of the current research activities undertaken by USP’s School of Agriculture in Samoa.
Head of School of Agriculture and Food Technology (S.A.F.T), Associate Professor Mohammed Umar, in welcoming the delegation, highlighted that the Alafua Campus has been doing extremely well in terms of increasing student numbers.
“I want to thank all U.S.P member countries, for sending their students to Alafua for studies,” Associate Professor Umar said.
“We have had a steady increase in student numbers over the last five to six years and many of our students have graduated with Postgraduate and Masters qualifications,” he added.
Associate Professor Umar attributed the success of the Campus to the diverse range of courses offered and to the staff of Alafua Campus for encouraging students to excel in their studies.
He told Council members that S.A.F.T is doing many important studies to focus on and address some of the issues faced by the Pacific region.
“At S.A.F.T, we are doing many important research studies such as focusing on climate change and its impact on food security and agriculture, study of the fertility of soil for all islands in the region and increasing the fertility and productivity of our land,” Associate Professor Umar said.
Dr. Rathi Kant, Senior Lecturer in Entomology at the Alafua Campus, further discussed with the Council members, some of the research activities undertaken by the School including: tissue culture, biological control, pest management and use of pesticides, honey bees and pollination and the impact of the giant African snails to plant species, to name a few.
Alafua Campus Postgraduate and Masters students also presented their research findings pertaining to the Council Members, which generated discussions of mutual interest in the area of agriculture for the Pacific region.