The Honourable Minister for Youth and Sports;
Assistant Minister for iTaukei Affairs;
Permanent Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister and Sugar Industry;
Visamiti Youth Club;
Vadravadra Youth Club;
Vacidravi Youth Club;
Nasolo Youth Club; Veisaru Youth Club;
Yalatinavou Youth Club;
The Respective Mataqalis;
Members of Youth Groups;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bula vinaka and good afternoon you all.
It’s wonderful to be here with you as we mark the start of a new and exciting chapter in the lives of some ambitious young Fijians.
Today we reward initiative and energy and we recognise what Government and communities can achieve when they join together to do great things. The Youth Farm Initiative provides grants to youth clubs to cultivate land and grow crops. It is a great co-operative venture, because the Mataqali set aside land for the young people and the Government provides grants for equipment, tools, seed, seedlings, water tanks, fencing materials and other necessities.
Together, Government and local communities are helping young Fijians make something for themselves – the very best outcome we can ever aspire to achieve. These young people will put land to use and be able to earn income through the sale of the crops they grow. They will learn how to run a business. And, who knows, they may decide that farming the land is the life they want to live – there are few better places than Fiji to do just that. Many young people in the West, including some here today, made their living in tourism – the Industry hit hardest by COVID-19. We are providing those who are out-of-work or on reduced hours with a steady flow of assistance, but these Fijians also deserve the chance to work again and that is why we are here today.
We should all be proud that these young people have chosen a new and time-honoured way to earn an income in farming, and I wish them good fortune-and good weather, of course. Because they will certainly be more attentive to the weather than they have ever been.
Today, I am very happy to congratulate the youth clubs of Visamiti, Vadravadra, Vacidravi, Nasolo, Veisaru and Yalatinavou for the grants they will receive. There are 185 members in all of these youth clubs, and the income they produce will be of great help to their families.
So this is a youth program, but it isn’t just to benefit these young people. It benefits their villages. And it benefits the entire country. Add the experience of these young people to the experiences of the nearly 400 other recent grant recipients from the Western Division— the Youth Clubs in Balevuto, Nacilau, Youth Clubs in Nakabuta, Nakalavo, Naduri, Nosi, Rara, Onpaul, Nadolodolo and Cakaunitera— and to other youth clubs in Fiji, and you can see the positive long-term effect this program has.
We are preparing our emerging generation by supporting their initiative and their hard work. And we are doing it together—the local communities and the Government. Fiji’s local communities are a source of great national strength. We have built a great country community by community.
Together, as a Fijian community, we support our young people and take pride in all they can accomplish. Friends, we are living through tough times, but none of us are weathering this storm alone.
Some problems are so big; we need Government to help solve them. Sometimes communities are best suited to find solutions. But together, I believe we do our best work when we join forces, when we find ways to seize new opportunity – that is what we are doing today and that is what we must keep doing no matter what hand the future deals us.
Vinaka, Congratulations and Best Wishes to you all. Thank you.