University opens doors, eyes next 50 years

The weeklong celebration of the University of the South Pacific’s 50th anniversary is coming to an end tonight. 

The final gathering this evening will continue the festive mood felt at the University’s Alafua Campus yesterday where the institution opened its doors to the public during their Open Day.

The event yesterday was about looking into the future, allowing the future of Samoa to get an idea of how they can benefit from what the University offers.

And in continuing the strong agricultural study traditions at the U.S.P. Alafua Campus since the 1970s, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and S.R.O.S., Lopao’o Natanielu Mua, acknowledged the proud history of the university in graduating many current leaders in Government, corporations, non-governmental organisations and civil societies.

“Students, if you read today’s (yesterday) editorial in the Samoa Observer you will have read that many of our people holding important positions today are scientists in agricultural ministries and those who actually run government organisations, Ministries and corporations are named,” he said.

“We have our people working as agricultural scientists also you will see my Chief Executive Officer has a double masters from U.S.P. (so I call him a professor) My C.E.O of S.R.O.S. is also a U.S.P. college graduate, they both came through Alafua.”

The Minister echoed the government’s stance on recognizing the strategic importance of agriculture in the region, which he says has led to strong partnerships between the U.S.P. Alafua Campus and the Samoan Government. This  has enable them to work closely together in sharing information that is vital for making informed decisions on agricultural matters that not only benefit Samoa, but the whole region.

He urged that Pacific Island nations need to consider the local food crops for food security reasons and place more emphasis on it rather than refined imported foods.

“I have been advised that I.R.E.T.A. and S.A.F.T. are concentrating on developing research projects to address the food security problems by looking at programmes on adaptation to climate change.”

The Samoan Government has been allocating 20 scholarships annually to students aspiring towards studies in agriculture. In his capacity as the Minister of M.A.F., Lopao’o said he will look into increasing the amount of scholarships. 

“The number of scholarship candidates from Samoa doesn’t actually use the whole quota from the Government; I’m telling you as Minister if there are more than 20, I will do my best to ask the Government to make a bit more money available for students or candidates to do agriculture students at U.S.P. Alafua.  

“You can actually be a very rich person in doing agriculture. If you look at all the richest people in Samoa, they actually started out as farmers, their families also started as farmers. If they can do it, why can’t you do it?

“You have to be good students to be able to help Samoa and the region to improve agricultural production. I always say to my Ministry that we don’t have mineral resources we only have land. But our land is underutilized, so we urge you students, prospective students, to come forward and take the opportunity and become a student of agriculture. We will try and improve on the number of scholarships available, if there is any interest from you.”

The Minister pointed out why a career in agriculture would be desirable starting with the increased demand for agricultural scientists in light of the threat of climate change and over population as well as being an avenue for self-employment and earning regular income. Pending the accreditation of U.S.P. from W.U.S.C., a degree in agriculture studies will increase in value and prestige.

“It is much easier to be an employer rather than an employee in agriculture, especially for those of you with a lot of interest in entrepreneurship. As Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, I wish to emphasize the important link between a good quality education and good quality social beings. Our region depends on good agricultural scientists to blaze the trail of change needed for our region to survive the demands of the times, and we look no further than U.S.P. to meet this need.”

A cultural performance followed the formalities before students from St Josephs, Avele, Faatuatua, Don Bosco, Faleata and Papauta College took guided tours of displays around campus. 

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