(From L-R): General Manager of Mainstreaming of Rural Development Innovation (MORDI) Tonga Trust, Mr Soane Patolo, Managing Director of Nishi Trading Ltd, Mr Minoru Nishi Junior and USP’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Learning, Teaching and Student Services, Professor Richard Coll during the MOU Signing.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between The University of the South Pacific (USP), Mainstreaming of Rural Development Innovation (MORDI) Tonga Trust and Tonga’s Nishi Trading, was signed on 19 December 2016.
The MOU will establish a collaborative relationship by and among MORDI, USP, and Nishi Trading where the three institutions can exchange information to seek and implement programmes and activities of mutual interest.
The institutions specifically agreed to collaborate in the field of Sustainable Agricultural Practices and Climate Change, focusing on food security related research and the effects of climate change on root and tuber crops such as sweet potato and developing growth and nutrient models to predict its yield as affected by drought.
While signing the MOU, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Learning, Teaching and Student Services, Professor Richard Coll said the MOU serves as a very good tool for cooperation between the three parties.
Professor Coll said that USP has a mandate to not only provide higher education in the Pacific but also to work with countries in the region in areas of common interest, such as Climate Change.
He talked about the University’s Strategic Research Themes (SRT) and informed the delegates that USP, through its Research Office has developed a number of SRTs to work on with the relevant stakeholders.
While talking about agriculture and farming in the Pacific, Professor Coll said that the whole notion of farming in the Pacific has challenges and the environment also plays an important part.
Professor Coll said that universities struggle to get students interested in farming.
“I think because they are not able to understand how exciting nature can be with more modern techniques as opposed to growing simple crops and sugarcane without any value added to it,” he said.
Managing Director of Nishi Trading Ltd, Mr Minoru Nishi Junior is excited about the opportunity provided through the MOU.
Mr Nishi Junior said that partnering with USP to look into sustainable development was a long term plan, especially for farmers and those who come from a farming background.
He thanked Professor Elisabeth Holland and her team from Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD) for their support and looks forward to working with them to develop and strengthen the communities that they are working on.
MORDI Tonga Trust works towards aiding the rural isolated communities of Tonga to fight poverty; empowers communities to realise their full potential and take ownership by involving them with the community activities as opposed to isolating them.
Nishi Trading Limited, which is a family-owned Tongan business began as a commercial farm for imports and exports and then expanded to include a farming supplies retail store and a quarry for manufactured and raw construction materials.
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