Diploma of Tropical Agriculture

The programme is structured to equip students with the capacity to think critically and solve problems related to agricultural challenges in the Solomon Islands.  This programme prepares the students to move on into the Bachelor of Science in Tropical Agriculture programme.

Admission Requirements


The minimum entry requirement for the Diploma of Tropical Agriculture is the successful completion of Form 6 with a PSSC aggregate of 16 or less in Maths & English and the best three science field subjects i.e. agriculture science or any of the other science fields.  Or a certificate from SINU or a recognized institution in the field of agriculture, forestry or environment with a minimum GPA of 2.3.  Or, an agriculture science teacher with at least 3 years of work experience or an agriculture extension officer with at least 3 years of work experience in animal husbandry, crop production, quarantine, research or farm management

Course Structure


Course Code: DTA
Course Name: Diploma of Tropical Agriculture
Duration: 2 years
Core Units: 18 Units
Total Credit Points: 240
Campus: Kukum

Unit CodeUnit TitlePre-requisiteSemester OfferedCredit Points
YEAR 1
AG501Communications & Study SkillsNIL110
This course prepares students to apply knowledge and skills to effectively communicate orally and in writing such as actively listening and participating in meetings with stakeholders, giving speeches, writing research reports, data interpretation and writing of simple scientific-based materials for farmers. Students will also be equipped with problem-solving skills, including the identification of knowledge gaps, methods of gathering and critically evaluating relevant information to formulate potential solutions. It also enables students to demonstrate skills in methods of developing paragraphs and making documents using correct grammar and spelling. Furthermore, students will be able to accurately write memorandum letters and scientific reports for publications; solve communication problems using effective communication skills and apply communication skills in agriculture and applied sciences.
AG502Mathematics & Computer ApplicationsNIL110
Being functional in mathematics and basic computer applications is required in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) positions and it is important for those who seek careers as farm managers or in any agriculture related discipline. This unit starts with reviewing basic arithmetic used in agriculture such as ratio and proportions (mixing feeds, farm chemicals, medicines), measurements and units (marking off farm land), basic algebra and critical thinking, applied use of exponentials, trigonometry, and basic statistics. Students explore computers as “hardware” and learn basics of “software” applications associated with Microsoft office (word, power point, excel, publisher) and practice internet searches. This unit provides a foundation for other units in agriculture and natural resources.
AG511Introduction to Plant BiologyNIL115
The unit introduces the students to Plant Biology and covers the various areas of plant classification, the use of the binominal system for plant ID and naming, major cell types, including: eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells, and the basic plant life cycles. Plant cell structure and cell division will be examined, focusing on the processes of mitosis as compared to meiosis, and their roles in growth and heredity. Students will learn about intercellular and intracellular transport of water, nutrients and gasses through mass flow (bulk flow), osmosis and diffusion. Major plant hormones will be studied with respect to their regulation of growth and development of plants. Plant hormones will be examined with an emphasis on stimulus such as reactions of plants to environmental factors (e.g. tropism). Students will make observations from field trials using synthetic and commercially made chemicals to induce and initiate plant cell growth. Photosynthesis and respiration, and water and nutrient uptake will be examined, with an emphasis on acquisition mechanisms and deficiency symptoms. Plant defenses to diseases and pests will also be briefly introduced. Plant genetics and hereditary will also be introduced in this unit to prepare first year diploma students for the AG 712 course unit on Plant Genetics and Breeding.
AG521Introductory Animal BiologyNIL115
Knowledge of biology, especially animal anatomy and physiology are essential as a foundation to many aspects of animal health care. Basic biochemistry and animal cellular function are also foundational. From this knowledge evolves an appreciation of how disease and injury affect normal function, and in turn treatment can be designed to alleviate symptoms. The unit covers; classification of animals and basic chemistry, cellular biology and homeostasis, and basic anatomy and physiology of animals.
AG531Rural SociologyNIL110
Rural sociology explores the influence of physical, biological and cultural factors on people and groups considered to be rural as defined by living in the countryside as opposed to in cities and towns (i.e. urban areas). This includes the social ecology and environmental sociology of people living close to the land and natural resources. In this unit students examine the rural sociology of Pacific Islanders in an agricultural context to gain a better understanding of the social lives of farmers, how they perceive their agricultural occupations and lifestyles, challenges faced by farming families, and other factors affecting their lives in a rural setting.
AG541Agricultural Economics INIL210
Economics underpins human societies and decision making. This unit covers: basic economic concepts including classic productivity resources (labour, capital, and land); economic principles of production and their application in agriculture; marginal analysis, law of diminishing marginal returns; production concepts, average product, optimum level of input use, product selection, competitive advantage, risk; marginal costing, variable and common costs; gross margins, net margins; net farm income; and economic concepts in agriculture marketing.
AG522Pigs & Poultry ProductionNIL210
This course equips students with knowledge and experience related to commercial and small holder pig & poultry care and background to assist with further development and expansion of these industries in future. Pigs and poultry are the most common and traditional livestock kept in Pacific Islands villages and any agriculturalist should have training regarding their management. This unit covers the following topics related to farming pigs: breeds and breeding systems, different pig production systems, pig housing, nutrition, pig biology and management, pig health and disease, records. Poultry units cover: breeds and breeding systems, different poultry production systems, nutrition, egg formation, hatchery management, day old chick management, and poultry health and disease.
AG512Organic Vegetable Production OrnamentalNIL215
The course introduces the students to the principle practices of horticulture industry and covers the following instructional areas: vegetable/fruit crops origins, importance of organic vegetable production in the country, identifications of suitable early maturing fruits & vegetables in different parts of the Solomon Islands, temperature range and soil systems for fruits/vegetables productions, site selection and soil requirement for vegetables and fruit crops, principles of plant propagations, modern production systems, seed technology, land preparation and crop rotation, morphology and husbandry of important vegetable crops in the Solomon Islands and south pacific region. The course will also cover amenity horticulture – ornamental plants and landscaping concepts, intercropping fruit trees with other horticultural crops and designing a basic plant breeding programme.
AG532Food & Nutrition ScienceNIL210
This course covers nutrition from cellular to organismal level with a focus on both animal nutrition in agriculture and human nutrition in relation to food security. Topics covered include: food and its components, food utilisation, evaluation of feeds, feeding standards, feeds and feeding, ration formulation. The human nutrition topics include: Human nutritional needs, nutrition & health; food types & nutritional requirements and deficiency diseases; evaluation of nutritional status & nutritional disorders; food safety; food storage processing & cooking; food & nutrition programmes at community & national levels.
AG513Principles of Soil ScienceNIL215
Soils are the foundation of agriculture and understanding them is basic for good farm practices. The unit introduces students to the basic principles of soil science: soil types, soil textures, soil chemistry, biochemical processes in the soil environment, living organisms and their roles in soils, soil-plant nutrients interactions, and soil fertilizer evaluation and management.
YEAR 2
AG614Crop Pathology & ProtectionAG511115
Crop Pathology and Protection introduces students to the concepts and principles of plant protection such as recognizing pests and diseases, symptoms of diseases, and managing crops to reduce harm from pests and disease. Students build confidence in the technical aspects of control measures, while considering the economic, social and biological practices of integrated pest management (IPM). Population estimations of pests and diseases through monitoring and surveying helps students to critically make judgements on what approaches to undertake. Understanding regulations and quarantine laws plays a vital role in safeguarding and prevents introduction of exotic pests into the country.
AG615Soil Fertility & ManagementAG513115
Soil fertility and management are major aspects of successful agriculture. This unit covers concepts of soil fertility and productivity, and the many factors influencing productivity including: soil texture, structure, depth, water holding capacity, porosity, density, pH, salinity, organic matter levels, total and available nutrients levels, and macro and microorganisms. Students learn more about plant nutrition including role of macro and micro elements and deficiency symptoms. Practical soil fertility evaluation is covered including soil tests, tissue tests, use of deficiency symptoms and biological tests. Students explore soil management practices including the use of fertilizers, the types and recommendations for Solomon Islands. Soil and water conservation, the roles of organic matter in improving soil are covered and demonstrated. Soil management systems are examined and compared, including: shifting cultivation, multiple cropping, agroforestry, crop rotation and composting. Finally, students address soil fertility problems in Solomon Islands, environmental pollution associated with farming, and the importance of land use planning in agricultural development at small and large scales.
AG642Farm Management PrinciplesNIL115
Farm Management looks at the decision-making processes that farm manager’s employ and covers specific knowledge and technical skills they use to make good economic decisions. The unit emphasizes the use of physical and financial records with relevant data for analysis. The unit covers the application planning, organizing, controlling the effective use of scarce farm resources and the farm management financial tools such as gross margin analysis, partial budget analysis, and sensitivity analysis as well as linear programming to improve decision making to achieve farm business goals.
AG633Extension Methods & CommunicationsAG531115
This course introduces the methods and communications in agricultural extension. It also covers the administration and supervision in agricultural extension. The unit provides sufficient background on all aspects of outreach and human resources aspects of extension preparing students to work effectively in an agricultural extension office.
AG671Statistics for Applied SciencesAG502215
This course covers all the basic statistical concepts and methods that researchers can use to do research in agriculture. The instructional areas are; handing data – types of data, sampling theory, descriptive statistics- tabular, graphical and numerical display of data, inferential statistics – hypothesis testing, estimation, statistical tests; basic design and analysis of agricultural experiments – Completely Randomized Design, Randomized Complete Block Design, Latin Square design and Split-plot design and surveys and census. The course is also designed to help students identify sampling techniques, carry out simple surveys, constructing questionnaires, piloting and implementing the questionnaire, coding of questions, data tabulation and analysis. Students who have completed this unit should be able to design and analyse agricultural experiments and surveys.
AG616Plantation Crop ProductionNIL215
This unit introduces students to varieties of crops that are classified or agronomically regarded as plantation crops because of their characteristics or nature of their cultivation and end products. Students learn in depth, the biology, cultivation, and economic importance of coconut, cocoa, oil palm, kava and vanilla.
AG623Ruminant Animal ProductionAG521215
This course covers topics on ruminant animal production in tropical regions, including domesticated animals used for human consumption and commerce. This unit covers selected topics on: livestock production in the Pacific region, systems of production, pasture as feeds for ruminants, pasture improvement and establishment, livestock, pasture and other cropping systems integrated, beef and dairy cattle and goats and sheep farming systems. This will include aspects of animal management practices and animal health issues.
AG643Agriculture MarketingAG541215
This course provides the students with the concepts of applied economic related to agriculture and how they help explain producer behavior and what motivates consumer behavior. The unit explores the important role of marketing in any economic system. The basis of international trade is also covered including its advantages and its negative implications to developing countries such as the Solomon Islands.