Lily Draunitivi, a Fiji National University (FNU) alumnus, is a strong advocate of food security. Practising what she preaches, this Assistant Youth Officer at Fiji’s Ministry of Youth and Sports is an active farmer. Combining what she learnt as a student at FNU, and farming a seven-acre farm, Draunitivi shares best practices about agriculture with her target stakeholders to eradicate the issue of food security.
“As part of my job at the Ministry, I serve young people from Nakasi, Dilkusha and Waila areas in the Central Division of Fiji. I help in building a secure future for them by educating how the land can be best utilised for sustenance and even income,” said Draunitivi. Draunitivi grew up with love for plants and respect for nature.
“I used to look forward to holidays in high school because I could then spend the break walking through the Colo-i-Suva forest and Wailoku Fall admiring nature. These walks used to be refreshing. They would clear my head and give me space to think.
This is why I took up the Trade Diploma in Agroforestry programme at FNU after completing high school,” she added. After graduating with her Trade Diploma from FNU’s College of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (CAFF) in 2015, she got married.
The young couple settled down in Vanua Levu, where she started farming with her husband. “My husband and I have a farm at Navutu, an area at the border of Bua and Macuata. Currently, we are farming seven acres of land and working towards leasing at least 50 more acres to expand our business.”
“Our main commodities which we grow for sale are yaqona (kava) and dalo. We also plant vegetables such as cabbage, eggplant, cassava, cucumber, chillies, pumpkin, ota and corn,” shared Draunitivi proudly. Draunitivi uses her knowledge from the classroom to produce better results on her farm. Eager to learn more, she moved back to Suva in 2017 and returned to FNU’s CAFF where she enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Forestry programme.
“While doing my Bachelor’s programme, I was playing the role of a student, a wife and a mother to my two daughters. It was challenging, but it was worth it in the end. I also had fun with my classmates. Student life is an experience that I will cherish forever.”
While she was finishing off her industry attachment at the Ministry of Forestry in Labasa, she received an opportunity to be the Assistant Youth Officer with the Ministry of Youth and Sports. “I figured it would be good to share my knowledge with youths and help them realise that they can do a lot to create employment for themselves, put food on their table, and stay away from crime by making the best use of the land. Youths do not realise that they are the answer.
They can have a bright future with the right guidance.” Her advice to everyone is to make use of the land that they have. “If you do not have land to plant and make income, you can always use your backyard to garden for your own use. It will be a form of exercise, and you will get fresh produce to eat. In situations such as natural disasters and pandemics like COVID-19, food security will be an issue and if you plant your vegetables, it will help you.” Speaking about FNU, Draunitivi says,
“FNU has allowed me to showcase what females can do in a non-traditional field of work such as Forestry.” Draunitivi has completed her Bachelor of Science in Forestry programme and is due to graduate in May 2020 as one of the graduates in the year of FNU’s 10th anniversary.