Twenty-two participants of the National Training and Productivity Centre (NTPC) and the Asian Productivity Organisation’s (APO) workshop on rural development have been encouraged to come up with innovative strategies that direct rural development initiatives for sustainable livelihood. 
NTPC Director Dr Isimeli Tagicakiverata said every country pays a high price for environmental degradation in the modern world and the challenge is to foster development that is technically sound, culturally acceptable and economically viable.
“Rural families are the main stakeholders to the sustainable use of natural resources. Development planners and educators seek to reconcile the resources, needs and realities of rural households with the requirements of national development strategies,” Dr Tagicakiverata said.
“The challenge for educators is not only to enable rural families to use resources at their disposal in a sustainable manner but also to transfer knowledge and skills that can increase their productivity and improve wellbeing.”
While referring to NTPC’s Sustainable Livelihood Project (SLP), Dr Tagicakiverata said the Fiji National University and NTPC are committed to empowering sustainable livelihood communities through its Non-Formal Education Department.
The Fijian Government funded SLP provides direct skills-based training people living in rural and maritime communities. Since its inception in 2012, more than 27,000 people have completed this training in 16 courses.
Dr Tagicakiverata said the primary objective of this project is to train and empower rural communities and empower rural communities and villages with basic practical skills and knowledge, whilst addressing the productive use of local natural resources as a means to alleviate poverty.
The Chief Guest, Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development, David Kolitagane said properly addressing rural development can help government and development institutions address the fundamental challenges faced in eliminating poverty and hunger.
“Why I say this is because majority of our poor still live in rural areas compared to urban and access to key infrastructure and services is still biased against rural people,” said the PS.
Kolitagane emphasised that economic growth in the rural sector and utilising agriculture as an enabler to growth will assist in rural communities to get out of poverty.  He reiterated the Fiji Government’s efforts for the need to invest in Research and Development in agriculture and technology adoption. He also said small islands such as Fiji would need to work smarter to improve agriculture output and farmers income, as public-private partnership models are critical in driving positive change in rural space.
“The APO in collaboration with the National Training and Productivity Centre (NTPC) and Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, has developed a master plan to meet policy and institutional prerequisites of a well-functioning productivity movement at a national level. Fiji’s annual productivity awards called Fiji Business Excellence awards plays a critical role in driving productivity at the national level,” he said.
The weeklong workshop on Rural Community Development for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth hosted by NTPC is being held at Tanoa International in Nadi.


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