Growing herbs and vegetables has always been Nalisha Lal’s passion and it did not come as a surprise that she chose to join Fiji National University’s (FNU) College of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (CAFF) to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. 

Lal completed the three-year programme earlier this year after serving her industrial attachment with two of her friends Janesh Kumar and Nivedita Devi at Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF). Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lal has not had any luck with securing employment, however, she is keeping busy by developing a backyard garden. 

“I was attached at BAF since last September and enjoyed our work there. I learnt a lot of things as I was placed on a rotational basis at each of the different departments. COVID-19 pandemic, unfortunately, de-railed my plans but I am keeping positive,” she said. 

“Applying my knowledge I’ve learnt while at FNU has been very helpful in setting up my backyard garden. I have so far planted a few vegetable crops, green leafy vegetables, coriander leaves and eggplant,” Lal added. 

The 22-year-old said she’s a proud FNU graduate adding the 6-month industrial attachment component is an excellent way of broadening student’s experiences and preparing them to join the workforce.  

“We learn a lot when we serve industrial attachments. It provided me with the opportunity to observe and learn how BAF Officers execute their roles on the field, the seriousness of the nature of work undertaken and its importance to Fiji and its biodiversity.” 

According to Lal, flora and fauna plays a vital role in the day-to-day living and hence the importance for each person to have an appreciation and some knowledge about the vegetation around us. “Plants give us oxygen and that’s what we need to live. So it is important that we care for our environment,” said Lal. 

“For me, attending different lectures about soil, crops, fertilizers, pathogens and going back to the field to apply the knowledge practically has enabled me to understand that success in agriculture is all about adaptability, having interpersonal skills and time management.” “Educational tours to some of the agricultural industries across Fiji has been one of the best parts of my student-life and on the other side staying away from family was the most difficult bit.

However, every step challenged has encouraged me to become stronger and wiser,” she said. Lal believes agriculture is not just about farming but it is a diverse area of study.

She is encouraging the prospective students, especially females to consider this subject. “When it comes to choosing a career, many young people in the developing world tend to shy away from agriculture.

I would recommend more students especially girls to take up this programme as it has a lot of opportunities ahead,” said Lal. 

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