Agriculture celebrates contributions of its women

Picture: Dr. Keresi Lomata attending to a cattle in a dairy farm.

Being more assertive and confident and having wisdom, commitment, and passion are key attributes to standing out in a male-dominated environment. 

These were the sentiments expressed by women in leadership positions in the Ministry of Agriculture.

Head of Agriculture Economic Development, Ms Sera Bose who is the only female Head of a division

within the Ministry, said since joining eight years ago her journey had been challenging yet, at the same time, interesting.

“You are challenged every time to deliver your maximum output as compared to your other colleagues,

sometimes it pushes you to your limit and at the same time it makes your work more interesting because you are continuously learning every time you successfully deliver,” she explained. 

For women who faced similar challenges in working in a male dominated environment, Ms Bose urged women to embrace these with wisdom, commitment and passion.

“You will always come out smiling when you know you have been there and you gave in all your best. So it was never a challenge, ‘tis a season only,” Ms Bose said.

For young women who were undecided on their career path, Ms Bose advised to “Choose a career you will be comfortable in that fully addresses your area of interest and brings out the best in you.”

Senior Veterinary Officer – Vatuwaqa, Dr Keresi Lomata who has been with the Ministry for five years expressed similar sentiments as Ms Bose. 

“It was quite challenging at first. Women in this profession are perceived as having limited intellect and physical strength compared to men and that made me less confident in the beginning. But then I got to interact more with my colleagues and clients, and learned more about the system and the processes, and so I gained more confidence,” she explained. 

In terms of advice to women facing similar challenges, Dr Lomata urged them to be more assertive and confident enough to stand up for oneself without having to disrespect others. 

With respect to young women who were still undecided in terms of a career path, she said “Learning

never stops. Even if you become really good at your job, and you know your strengths, also know, that it is ok to ask for help.”

Agriculture Permanent Secretary, Mr Vinesh Kumar acknowledged the invaluable contribution of the women in the Ministry and paid tribute to them. 

“I am extremely proud of the work done by the women in the Ministry. They are indeed resilient, hardworking, and intelligent. I can truly say, that women have made a difference in ensuring that the wheels of the Ministry continues to turn unhindered.

“We had women who were part of the frontliners in the COVID-19 operations last year, others were out

in the field assessing damages during the recent heavy floods in the West. Women in the Ministry are quick to sacrifice their time with loved ones to ensure the work of the Ministry especially in looking after our farmers’ is not compromised. This year’s theme of Breaking Bias is certainly apt in this context. I am also proud that we are now employing more women in technical and leadership positions through the Open Merit Recruitment System like Field women, Agriculture Technical Officers, Senior Agriculture

Officers, Principal level officers, and a Regional Manager post.

“So, Vinaka Vakalevu to all the women in the Ministry of Agriculture,” the Permanent Secretary said.

There are a total of 316 women employed in the Ministry with seven women holding leadership positions,

188 technical officers, and 121 providing support services.