Representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (M.A.F.) of the Government of Samoa and the U.N.D.P. GEF-Small Grants Programme visited communities in Savai’i between 21-23 November to assess the development of their agroecology projects.
These projects support collective community efforts in the villages of, Matavai – Safune, Sasina, Auala and Fagafau to promote sustainable agriculture, food security and improved nutrition through agroecology subsistence farming. These efforts are in line with UN’s SDG 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
There are ongoing concerted efforts at the community and national levels to reduce land degradation in Samoa. Extreme weather events and other natural hazards as well as human activities continue to affect land resources in the country, and the effects of these been costly for farmers and, communities as it relates to food security and sustainable agriculture.
Through financial assistance provided by U.N.D.P. G.E.F-S.G.P. and technical assistance provided by M.A.F., several communities in Savai’i have been able to start up key hole gardens to grow vegetables like Chinese cabbages, spring onions, cucumbers and tomatoes to name a few.
These gardens are enabling communities and families to meet their subsistence requirements, as well as provide some additional financial support through the sale of excess harvest. U.N.D.P G.E.F-S.G.P’s representative Lilomaiava Filifilia Iosefa noted that the ultimate objective of these small scheme projects is to benefit each household in the participating villages.
“The U.N.D.P. G.E.F-S.G.P. grants are awarded to a village or community to facilitate the the development of gardens in a central area. If these are successful - then these funds can be distributed to households within each community to start their own key-hole gardens,” said Lilomaiava.
“We are, excited to see that the village of Fagafau has taken the lead in this work, noting also that implementation through individual households instead of centralizing it”, added Mr. Iosefa.
Representatives of participating communities involved expressed their appreciation when speaking with the officers from UNDP GEF-SGP and MAF that visited the sites.
Mafutaga Faasolo of Fagafau noted that their project has been a blessing for them.
“Our people are delighted to be able to grow, harvest and re-grow vegetables in our key hole gardens funded by this project,” said Ms. Faasolo.
“These are very easy to manage, and maintaining these key hole gardens successfully is important for our families. We use the products of what we grow such as cabbages and spring onions for our meals, and sell those that we can.
The seedlings provided by the Ministry of Agriculture have contributed greatly to starting our vegetable gardens, and we will work hard to continue this work,” - she added.
The project will continue with its implementation and as required, will gradually shift to individual households based on their success.