Agriculture Extension Officer Brian Tairea said the exercise involved a one-week programme where students who take agriculture classes at college were temporarily attached to the ministry.
“We introduced them with the skills of pruning, soil testing and grafting and these are basic agricultural skills that they cannot get in the classroom.
“We brought them out into the field to see what agricultural officers actually do, because basically agriculture is about being in the field and working.”
Following the practical sessions Tairea filled checklists provided by the school to review the students’ work. The results will go towards their final grades.
“The students seemed very keen to learn. We want to help our children with their decisions about what they do when they leave school and agriculture is one option for them.”
Tairea said Rarotonga residents frequently asked the ministry for advice help with pruning trees and plants on their properties, but staffing constraints made this impossible. Helping students to gain pruning skills was one way the ministry could give back to the community.
He said the months of June and July were the best times to prune, because the weather was cooler and it was easier to trim the leaves and branches of trees.
Student Daran Viviaere said he had enjoyed the first day of practical training and found it educational.
Viviaere, who started at the college this year, comes from Aitutaki and sees his college year with Tereora as a positive one.
“I like field work and for us to come and to take part in classes like this as part of a team is worthwhile,” he said.
Viviaere said he was yet to decide what career he would pursue after college but agriculture looked like a good option.