Issues with farming

By Vatapuia Maiava and Ilia L Likou ,

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FARMING ISN’T AS EASY AS IT LOOKS: Mata’i Umu, 60, from the village of Malie-Uta.

FARMING ISN’T AS EASY AS IT LOOKS: Mata’i Umu, 60, from the village of Malie-Uta.

When many people tell others not to be lazy and to work harder with farming, they never take into account some of the issues.

For Mata’i Umu, from the village of Malie-Uta, knows what she’s talking about from tending her cabbage patch on her limited land in front of her house.

Aged 60, Mata’i says life is great.

“Everything is fine in my family and we have enough to go around,” she told the Village Voice.

“It’s not like we have much to spend on within my small family. We are just grateful for every little thing we get and we just focus on putting out family first.

Cabbage sales provide the family with enough money to make ends meet but according to Mata’I, it’s not a reliable form of income.

“When the family is in need of some money then we deliver vegetables on that day to whoever orders them. We would make about $80 a day on cabbage sales.

“The problem with having a plantation in a small patch of land is that after a while, the soil will start to lose its quality.”

Another issue is with extra costs sometimes turning a loss rather than a profit.

“We also have problems with the costs. When we go without long periods of rain then we have to add in the cost of water to water all the plants to keep them from dying,” Mata’I said.

“We have no problems with water availability in this part of the village. The cost of getting water here is also not so bad but we do go through a lot of water cuts which affects the crops a lot.

“My family is in need of a water tank to assist us with water problems as well as lower the costs of watering our plants.”

But aside from water and extra costs, the main issue is keeping the soil quality.

“Like I mentioned before, when the soil is overused, then it loses its quality,” Mata’I said.

“We would grow our crops about three to four times before we see the change in the vegetables. You will notice how worn out the soil becomes.

“We try and grow different crops to counter this problem but it does affect the money we get. We are also clearing the rubbish on the other part of our land so we can have more growing space.”

On the other hand, Mata’I says that they have the option of buying soil fertilizer to counter the soil problem.

 “It costs about $5 per packet of fertilizer and I am glad we have that option to help with only source of money, our plantation. I admit we don’t have much else.

“Every time we purchase two packets, we are very happy that we can continue farming.”

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