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Up to 25 animal health and livestock officers from all four of Fiji’s divisions are improving their skills and knowledge by participating in a para-veterinary training organised by the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Fiji Ministry of Agriculture (MOA).
The 16-week training course launched last week is funded by the European Union through the Safe Agricultural Trade Facilitation through Economic Integration in the Pacific (SAFE Pacific) project. On week 16 of the course, participants will have a summer school for practical and theory revision before sitting for final exams. At the graduation ceremony toward the end of the year, successful participants will receive certification from SPC and MOA.
A two-day event that took place from 13-14 April featured the launch and orientation workshop on day one and field training at Fiji’s Koronivia Research Station on day two.
“One of the key priorities identified in the recently endorsed Pacific Animal Health and Production Framework relates to ongoing availability and access to veterinary services across the Pacific,” said SPC Land Resources Division (LRD) Director Karen Mapusua at the training launch. “The lack of veterinary capacity in the Pacific has led to countries seeking capacity development in animal health and production.”
“Fiji is one of the luckier countries in the region with qualified veterinarians working within government ministries,” continued Mapusua. “However, this does not negate the need for para-vets. Para-vets play a vital role in animal health and production for Pacific Island countries, being the main human resources on the ground that engage with farmers and carry out extension work.”
The full training course is designed as a distance-learning programme and focuses on animal health and production issues for livestock found in the Pacific, including cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, horses and poultry.
“This course is timely due to the chronic shortage of qualified veterinarians in Fiji and the Pacific. Therefore, the load of day-to-day animal health-related field work falls on the shoulders of para-veterinarians,” said MOA Permanent Secretary Vinesh Kumar during his key address at the launch event. “By ensuring staff of the Ministry undertake training programs such as this, we are providing our staff with the necessary skills and knowledge to undertake their duties competently and effectively.”
In-country tutors will provide trainee guidance and mentoring throughout the 16-week course. In a sign of the programme’s success, the current seven training tutors are graduates from the previous para-vet course.
Since its inception in 2003, the SPC para-vet training has reached 15 Pacific Island countries. Similar training for countries targeted by the SAFE Pacific programme will be conducted across the region. The EU-SAFE Pacific project is being implemented across 15 countries: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
For more information:
Dr Sripad Sosale, Animal Health Advisor, Pacific Community (SPC), Land Resources Division (LRD) | [email protected]
Elenoa Salele, Animal Health Officer, Pacific Community (SPC), Land Resources Division (LRD) | [email protected]