Every student has a story to tell. Each year during graduation, we celebrate those graduates who have gone the extra mile to achieve their dreams.
Born and raised on the outskirts of Bulileka, Labasa, in a small town in the province of Macuata on Vanua Levu’s beautiful Island, Mr. Rahul Ravneel Prasad had no idea he would be awarded the European Union Intra-ACP GCCA Plus Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change and Resilience Building (PACRES) programme scholarship when he applied for the Masters Scholarship in Climate Change at the Pacific Centre of Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD) back in 2019.
“As a member of the Fiji Association of Researchers and Educators on Climate Change and Sustainability (FARCCS), I actively advocate for the inclusion of climate change and sustainability in education and policy frameworks.”
“I am passionate about promoting sustainable development and climate action in Fiji and the Pacific region,” Rahul stated.
Rahul’s research has broad and specific implications. It is specific because it adds to our understanding of the growth and development of the sugarcane crop in Fiji, particularly how climate change is and will continue to impact sugarcane growth and development.
His research also investigates various adaptation strategies that could assist farmers in dealing with and adapting to climate change.
This is the first study to incorporate traditional knowledge of sugarcane farmers as input data into a sugar cane crop model in order to simulate the effects of climate variability and change on cane growth and development. The sugar cane crop model processed and shows outputs based on not only the climate (historical and projected daily temperature, rainfall, solar radiation)-genetics-soil relationships but most importantly representing the local context of farmer’s farm and crop management and yield.
“The scholarship has also encouraged me to continue pushing myself academically and to seek out new opportunities for growth and development,” Rahul added.
“It’s taught me that hard work and perseverance pay off and that I should never give up on my dreams.”
Rahul previously worked as an Agriculture science teacher and his experience in this position allowed him to better understand Fiji’s agricultural, and educational challenges and opportunities.
The EU PACRES scholarship has enabled him to pursue his passion and education without financial constraints, while also becoming PaCE-SD’s first-ever gold medalist for the Masters in Climate Change Program since its inception in 2011.
Graduating is an accomplishment in and of itself, but receiving a Gold Medal for his master’s worthy of a Ph.D., as stated by one of his examiners, is an overwhelming satisfaction knowing that all of your hard work, sleepless nights, and sacrifice has paid off.
His proud parents, Mr. Ramendra Prasad and Miss. Shashi Lata Kiran, are a constant source of inspiration for him because they were frequently the first role models he admired and emulated.
“By providing a nurturing and supportive environment, my parents have motivated me to succeed academically.”
They have provided me with guidance and encouragement, which has helped me navigate difficult situations,” Rahul said.
Rahul’s research findings will improve adaptation and disaster risk reduction planning and actions for sugarcane farmers in Fiji and other sugarcane growing regions around the world, as well as serve as a baseline for documentation of sugarcane farmers’ traditional knowledge of forecasting extreme weather; and increase the use of crop models to improve sugarcane adaptation to a fast-changing climate in Fiji.
“It is a great accomplishment, completing his MSc in climate change and topping it off with receiving the gold medal for the best MSc Climate Change thesis,” said Lau Dr. Viliamu Iese, Rahul’s Principal Supervisor. Rahul recognizes that hard work, perseverance, humility, and a strong belief in achieving excellence in research quality are essential non-negotiable characteristics of an excellent student.
“I am confident Rahul will achieve more in the future, and I wish him all the best and with God’s blessings,” Dr Iese added.
The University of the South Pacific component of the EU-funded Intra-ACP GCCA+ PACRES programme is implemented in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the Pacific Community (SPC), and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS).