Tutu Rural Training Centre participants’ progress stories

Tutu Rural Training Centre participants’ progress stories

Mr Ilimo Nawaibalavu:

Mr. Ilimo is a graduate from the Young Farmers Course in the year 2007. Upon graduating from the young farmer’s course Ilimo managed to build a three-bedroom from the money from his Tutu farm as well as his home farm. Ilimo is married to Losalini Qatea. After graduation, he was left to continue with his farming business without any monitoring and the responsibility of a family gave him the urge to continue his farming business sustainably.

2007 graduate Mr Ilimo Nawaiblavu in his home

Ms Mereani Teresia:

Mereani Teresia is from the village of Salia in the province of Cakaudrove, she is a former graduate of the 2019 single women’s course. Upon graduation Mereani managed to purchase an electric sewing machine from the money she earned from her sales of vegetables and other skills like jewelry making, screen printing, sewing and traditional handicraft. Today Mereani continues her sewing and runs her small micro enterprise where she sells to the local community members

Mereani Teresia operating her small micro enterprise

Mr Waisele Lomaoso:

Mr Waisale is a current participant in our young farmers’ program and is from the village of Nukubolu from the province of Cakaudrove. Mr Lomaoso is currently on home program and continues on with the building of his three bedroom house and is nearly in completion. Mr Lomaoso only have primary education and resorted back to village life before completing his primary education.Mr Lomaoso currently works on his goal of completing his three bedroom house and is integrating sustainable farming practices at his home farm

Mr. Lomaoso infront of his house being built




TRTC Director signing the agreement with the Minister for Agriculture Hon. Mahendra Reddy

This report will emphasize a few important developments that have taken place through the ‘He Oranga Taurikura’ programme since its inception and it has given light to the development of Tutu courses

Outcome 1: Improved Food and Water Security and Healthy lifestyles


Through the program, TRTC has expanded its services with its Oceania farm for engaging women to be part of the farm development. It is envisioned through the motherly character of women they can replicate their tender character in caring for the crops at the Tutu farm. The women were engaged in the farming program where the formation is given on sustainable farming practice that includes soil regeneration. The women’s engagement at the farm is for two weeks and they will spend two weeks at home. The program amounted to $1,950.00 this is ongoing.

Crop rotation for used land

“Soil health starts with a paddock’s history even in this age of advanced technology”

It is been observed that more information about soil health in the field can be gained by talking to farm staff themselves. Farm staff detects that soil health problems arise from one-off events such as when crops had to be harvested in the wet or the continuous use of synthetic fertilizers or even the ongoing use of chemicals for cleaning the farm. This has shown a lot of impact on the quality of food consumed. The use of biological farming techniques improved food and water security and has contributed to a healthy lifestyle.

Healthy Soil healthy crop


• The empowering of running entrepreneurship by the participants has opened the development of e new workshop for Contemporary Arts where participants can enjoy expressing themselves in the making of traditional art, jewelry making, screen printing, and floriculture. The new building will contribute to the development of participants being resilient while operating as business entrepreneur. The total spent for the contemporary Arts building at the moment is $13,254.43, this is nearly in completion.

The upgrading of farm roads has contributed to the easy access of participants and staff to their respective farms and at the same time decrease the ongoing maintenance of the farm fleet. The road maintenance was completed in four months. The total amount for the road works amounted to $266,720.00

Tutu farm roads

Graduation Speech for Tutu Young Farmers Course 2021

Graduation Speech for Tutu Young Farmers Course 2021

The Honorable Minister of Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Water Ways and Environment Dr Mahedra Reddy, Representatives of the Oceania Marist Province, Fr Provincial, Fr Setefano Mataele, Government officials, Tutu Board of Directors, invited guests, my brothers and sisters in the Society of Mary, parents of the young farmers, and in particular the 49 Young Farmers graduating today. Bula Vinaka and Welcome,everyone.
It is a joy and privilege for me to welcome our guest of honour, the Honorable Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Water Ways and Environment and I thank you Sir for making yourself available to be present with us today.

Since its early beginnings, Tutu has operated on a partnership between the Society of Mary, the Government of Fiji, and the people of the Province of Cakaudrove.

Through the Ministry of Agriculture, we are grateful for the open relationship with the government that has enabled us to be creative in discovering new and modern ways of making traditional agriculture fruitful.

The history of our partnership dates back to 1972 when I am told that the Minister for Agriculture at that time Mr Doug Brown was our chief guest at the graduation of the first six months course and who at that time, committed the government to work in partnership with Tutu into the future. Fifty-two years later we are still working together in the partnership and I take this opportunity today to thank the present Government for the ongoing support through the annual grant.

It is a special joy to welcome Fr Setefano Mataele sm the Society of Mary Representative. Fr Setefano is the Provincial of Oceania Marist Province and is also a member of the recently created Tutu Rural Training Centre board.

The Society of Mary has contributed; 1109 acres of land, administrative skills, facilities, personnel without pay over the years, and perhaps most significantly, credibility in the eyes of the people, built up over the last years….. credibility born out of a relationship of presence, service and loyalty.

Ownership is the pathway to leadership. One of the greatest strengths of Tutu has been the sense of ownership of Tutu by the people of Cakaudrove. This ownership stems from the fact that they built the Centre through volunteer work. The story of the Tutu volunteers is a great example of hands up rather than hands out. Elements of volunteer work have continued to be part of the structure, and I thank the present group of Young Farmers for their one day’s volunteer work every week, which enables the Centre to operate.

The history of this partnership between the Society of Mary, the Government of Fiji and the people of Cakaudrove has been a fruitful one. There was a request by the government to extend beyond the province of Cakaudrove. As a result, we decided to initially extend the catchment area to include the tikin a’s of Dogotuki, Sasa, Wailevu and Seaqaqa in Macuata and Kubulau in Bua. These areas are accessible and homogeneous with Cakaudrove in terms of social structure, crops, markets and cultural value.

As of today through the help from the Government of Fiji through the Ministry of Agriculture we continue to bridge the gap within our catchment areas responding to the needs of our communities.

The local extension and research division for the past couple of years has always made itself available to take classes with the Young farmers, I must say congratulations to you Rohit, and your colleagues. We treasure your inputs and your belief in what we are doing.

Today we will officially be handing over our graduates to the Ministry in collaborating with Tutu for the monitoring of the young farmers five – year life development plan.

It is also with joy I would like to thank Caritas New Zealand whose representative is not here because of close borders. Caritas New Zealand is at present assisting Tutu to rehabilitate after TC Yasa and Ana while at the same time assisting with a significant project to consolidate the operational capacity of Tutu enabling it to be sustainable into the future. The project includes programmes on; soil enhancement, agroforestry development, fruit tree and vegetable development, breadfruit processing and value-adding activities, water reticulation, the newly upgraded farm roading, technical assistance, solar installation and hydro upgrade, board and staff training and providing the resources for the 2018 major review.

Speaking about the 2018 major review, I would like to congratulate the Review Team which consisted of Dr Andrew Mcgregor, Dr Rohit Lal, Mr Livai Tora and Fr IsaiaWairoga sm for the job well done and helping the centre with a follow-up project to Caritas NZ and MFAT in consolidating Rural Training in northern provinces of Fiji …thank you.

Sir, COVID-19 changes the way business organization operates and at the same time it changes all aspects of our lives leading to surprising discoveries. Tutu has helped in rehabilitating the functions of the degraded natural system through the supply of mucuna beans, ongoing supplying of fruit trees and compost tea which helps fix the degraded natural systems in delivering a climate positive future in which people and nature can thrive. This is being achieved with the exceptional involvement of the ministry of agriculture staff of both Waiyevo and Mua transmitting their knowledge and love of the soil, respect for the crops into a simple form for our participants.

New developments have been implemented with our long line of consultants and benefactors with Mr Rayner Page for the Tutu hydro plant and solar installation, Mr Sant Kumar of BulagroNadi on fruit trees and vegetable production, Lex Thompson and   Basil Gua in agroforestry, Mike James in financial administration, Dr Andrew McGregor and Ms Selina Kuruleca on research and developments, various government departments and many others in the local community and beyond. We are grateful for the advice that will help us sustain our centre into the future.

I would like to single out the involvement of the Pacific Farmers’OrganisationNetwork(PIFON), of which TRTC is a founding member. Our collaboration with PIFON has enabled us to build the first-ever farm tunnel for offseason vegetables and the design of the TRTC website.

In celebrating the graduation of the Young Farmers today, we are unearthing the model of Adult Non-Formal Rural Education that has enabled these young men to take hold of their own lives, build their own houses, and establish themselves as happily self-employed farmers in Rural Fiji today.

Even though this Young Farmers’ Course is rooted in the realities of agriculture, it is at heart a course about ‘people’. Their story is not about how much money they have made, although it is significant, how they had the door of a future open to them by a human process that we call Human Development. It is a process of liberation from personal and cultural constraints.

These young men graduating today are self-employed. They know as self-employed you are your boss…and you’re your boy also. He makes his own decisions, and he carries them out

The recent opening of our border means for us overseas investment which is important for those who do not have access to their own resources…..but let us also develop the resources that we have. And that is what this course is about. It is a development from within, development with dignity, development based on what we have got…. namely land. The present government policy of building a food secure Fiji is very encouraging for rural farmers today.

The development of Fiji is the development of its people, and today we honour these young men who are not looking to the new world out there somewhere, but a new world right here on their own land.

The Tutu Young Farmers is a course about farming, about using land commercially, about management, about rural development, about self-employment and so on. However, at its heart, it is a course for people. It is about their hopes and dreams, their hurts and pains, their relationships, their affectivity, their growth in autonomy whereby they are helped to take charge of their own lives and relationships.

However, our greatest asset is the creativity and dedication of our staff who walk with these young men. The majority of our staff are from the local community and have been formed here in Tutu. From the leadership here in Naisavere, through the cooks, the technical staff, human development formators, the farmworkers, food development, the soil health department, finance, we are blessed with an extraordinary sense of mission…….and I thank them today with the utmost reverence. You have helped us re-set and re-organize running the program to fit the challenging time we are going through today…and I say Vinaka! Vinaka! Vinaka sakaVakalevu for your ability to work together towards a common vision.

In rural non-formal adult education, the agenda, the syllabus comes from the people in their home situation. The test of the process is what they can do back at home, not here in Tutu.

The human process in Tutu is to awaken a new awareness of the resources, the opportunities, the dignity, the unperceived possibilities that exist for them in the land and sea that they own. This is a human process and why our expertise needs to be in the field of human development. The empowering factor is in the human person whereby new enlightenment and new ways of looking at ourselves and the world surrounding us gives us the energy to take hold of our lives and take up the skills of farm management.

This process does not take place in space and so I want to thank especially today the parents of the young farmers. I thank you for entrusting your sons to us, for your support to them throughout the three years, and for your generosity in coming to attend the two days parents course that also concludes today.

Finally, to the 49 young men graduating today, your period in Tutu ends today. You go home to your own house, to your own already established farms, you take your furniture, your bankbooks, you go with a clear five-year plan and the energy to live it out. You have planned your work, now you go to work on your plan.

You have lived together in accepting each other’s differences, you have prayed together, you have met cyclones and sickness and grown in patience and maturity beyond your years.

I say to you, congratulations. We are proud of you, you are a source of great joy to us. You chose in freedom to come here, and so we love you with the same freedom as we send you out today. Remember you have no debts here. Go in freedom and peace.

Vinaka Saka Vakalevu!

God Bless you all
FR PeteroMatairatu sm

Earthing Laudato Si Valueshar

Earthing Laudato Si Valueshar

People are poor if they are unable to have access to what is generally considered to be a reasonable standard and quality of life. Poverty deprives people of their involvement in structures that are the necessary avenues to get out of their suffering.

Backyard farming is another way that can help individuals form his/her access to nutritious and healthy foods. The growing of local traditional food crops must be supported and this is due to high nutritional value and its health benefits to our body.

Recently Milio Vakasirovoka a pastoral year student from Marist College Suva uproots his dalo farm which he plants in March this year from his backyard. The backyard has been idle for a number of years and no lives evolve from within. As a good steward, Milio tries to regenerate the soil with compost and compost tea while farming the land. Milio’s adoption of simple lifestyle of making food choice that is sustainable and less wasteful enables him to put healthy and nutritious food on TRTC Lura community table.

The simple lifestyle contributes to the Reduce, Refuse, Reuse, Recycle policy which contributes to the Care of our Common Home. The use of backyard farming technique is a way of ecological education for anyone who says that he /she is poor.

Simple ecological education such as fixing the soil, reduce, reuse material for composting is another way of educating our young generation today which sometimes they don’t understand what the ecological impact has been. Our younger generation has no real experiences as to what things were liked in the past. The form of education should be experiential said Milio.

Composting System
The simple composting system adopted by Tutu Rural Training center
harvesting Dalo
The harvest is rich…Milio with dalo from his backyard farm

Milio will be leaving for the Novitiate program in Rome this year and the Tutu community will continue to support him in prayers. As a good Laudato si animator, he believes that we work to create light for others and at the same time we naturally light our way…Vinaka Milio Vakasirovoka.

Human Development Through TRTC Courses

Human Development Through TRTC Courses

Skilled guides: Leadership through accompaniment (Series 6)

The guide must have walked and continue to walk the journey in his/her person. He or she must have a clear vision of the world around him and yet have a clear vision of what can be. He/she must have the personal integrity and freedom to lead through his/her person, and not through authoritarian structures.

The guide must be a person of compassion and empathy able to articulate both the pressures and forces at work in our lives and the vision of another way of living. He/she must have a listening heart so that the participants are aware that the guide knows intimately of the personal sufferings and cultural pressures upon each one of them. As the participants move towards autonomy the guide must be able to stand back in a quiet, patient, and unassuming manner. Attitudinal change is a slow process. The guide needs to collaborate with fellow guides on this journey of ‘walking with people. There is a difference between collaboration and teamwork. Teamwork divides up the work for reasons of efficiency and convenience. Collaboration involves a certain personal vulnerability in performing the task in hand together so that others can see the quality of the relationship which can inestimably contribute to the building up of the atmosphere or people-environment required. In this, we are working with people rather than for them. We call this leadership through accompaniment.

As the participants move towards autonomy the guide must be able to stand back in a quiet, patient, and unassuming manner. Attitudinal change is a slow process. The guide needs to collaborate with fellow guides on this journey of ‘walking with people. There is a difference between collaboration and teamwork. Teamwork divides up the work for reasons of efficiency and convenience. Collaboration involves a certain personal vulnerability in performing the task in hand together so that others can see the quality of the relationship which can inestimably contribute to the building up of the atmosphere or people-environment required. In this, we are working with people rather than for them. We call this leadership through accompaniment.

Every Young Farmer and every Young Single Woman participant has one of the eight staff married couples as their leader. The couple sits with the young male or female farmer and listens to the detailed plan of what they will do and expect, or what has happened, succeeded, failed, before and after going home in the five weeks’ oscillation. Each couple has six Young Farmers to lead/listen to whose farm blocks are in the same section as theirs so that they meet them informally often and in a common working environment and space. This enables them to wander across and look at each other’s plot and chat informally. This is where the story comes out. They are on the ground, they are boss. The couples are the listeners. This is where real non-judgmental listening happens. This is really about relationships at home – their life and story where they have never had listening but have had to unravel and have reacted. This is the heart of human development for us. This is about self-image. It is about their agenda, their hurts, and their pains.

Each week when the Young Farmers are working on farms with farm staff, core staff couples meet for half a day to share factual information about the individuals in their group about what they have done in gardening, personal information which may be affecting the behaviour of any individual, and any other obstacles that we all need to be sensitive to which may be affecting the young man or young woman. So we are discerning, sifting through and this is why in the group context there is a safety net as the person can be heard. We have good people who know how to discern.

In all of this discipline is required – adult discipline. Both the guide and the participants need to be involved in drawing up the steps to discipline. The process of appropriation/internalisation and the reasons for structures need to be known by both. Accountability needs to be clear from the beginning of the course, especially with the Young Farmers or the Young Single Women. The qualities of the guide will be most tested with young adults. Working with youth comes naturally to no one (unless we mistakenly become one of them). Youth require the most dedicated of guides. The words and concept discipline and discipleship are thus closely intertwined.

Lead With Service

Lead With Service

Being a bold innovator is a choice that must be backed by a commitment. At this time of  COVID-19, everyone is called to put life on new growth. In this sense, we are called to be refounders. Refounders have the gift of being able to go to the roots of problems and create imaginative ways to overcome them. He/She deeply thinks through issues before acting. Recently TRTC staff met in planning and reorganize activities for the second half of the year preparing to take risks founded on faith. The planning day has pushed everyone to a willingness to live and work in the darkness of faith as well as the ability to articulate inspiringly and in an empowering way, a vision that is committed to hard work…with love.