Samoa might be blessed with thousands of acres of fertile soil, but without a proper plan to turn them in to income-generating opportunities, the struggle will continue.
So says Faalogoifo Vaomu, of Safotulafai. The 27-year-old is married with two daughters and he lives with his wife’s family at Saoluafata.
Speaking to the Village Voice, he said he appreciates the gift of land which he uses for a plantation.
“My plantation is my life,” he said.
“I work on it every day and I don’t regret living the life of a farmer. I have two children, and the work I do determines their lives in the future.”
But he feels that somehow he could do a lot better with some help.
“I mean some incentives to take our plantations to the next level,” he said. “The cost of chemicals to run a plantation is so expensive.
“In this life, it’s all about working hard; if you don’t drop a single sweat then how can you look after your family? So we work hard, but it’s tough given the circumstances.”
Away from incentives to boost farming, Faalogoifo said access roads to their plantation are very poor.
“I know I’m not the only one complaining about this problem because it has been wrecked like this for a very long time,” he said.
“These wrecked roads have caused us a lot of difficulties
“We, as farmers, understand how it feels to walk all the way from coastal lands towards our plantation, it’s really hard.”
Roads, he added, are critical pieces of infrastructure if the government is serious about growing agriculture.
“Vehicle owners don’t want to use these roads,” he said.
“They know their vehicles will only get damaged. And when you weigh that up against the money you could make, I can understand their decision.”
For the young father, the plantation is their livelihood.
“My family depends on our plantation,” said Faalogoifo
“Therefore, I hope that the government will reach out and help fix these issues sometime soon. I really do.”