While Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi always has a lot to say about farming, according to Avea Ki, from the village of Siusega, it’s easier said than done.
The hardworking farmer says that with the size of farming lands and the help available to the farmers, all people can afford from what they earn is just enough to make it by on a daily basis.
And if you have the idea that you can get rich through farming, then you are in for a surprise. Avea says that the government should help the farmers with developing their work.
He says that it doesn’t have to be free help, it can also be seen as loan help; the only thing that matters is that there is help at all.
“The government always tells us that there is a lot of money buried in the ground but it’s not easy to get to it,” Avea told the Village Voice.
“There are many families who rely on their plantations but it takes a lot to really develop your plantation. In my opinion, the government should offer some help to farmers even if it is just a loan.
“In farming, you need healthy seeds, equipment and other things to really build your farm so that it generates a lot more money for your family.”
Avea says that requests have been made to the government but nothing has been done.
“I and a few farmers went to the Ministry for Agriculture and Fisheries to ask for help and we got nothing,” he said.
“Now we have no other choice but to be like all other farmers who grow just enough to feed the family and to sell for enough money to just cover sugar and other small necessities.
“That saying that you can build a really big house through your plantation, at this stage, that’s not the case.”
And with the high cost of living, farmers cannot really prosper with their work.
“The cost of living is high and it affects families like mine,” he said. “My main money maker is pineapples and it is a seasonal fruit. Many good money making crops are seasonal and that means you have to wait long periods of time to profit from it.
“There is also a chance that your crops will die so you won’t be able to benefit from them at all. And on top of that, what happens when we have a fa’alavelave?
“I can’t afford boxes of meat with these pineapples.”
But despite the limitations to his work, Avea still does his best for the sake of his family.
“I grow peas, pineapples, pawpaw, taro, coconuts and other crops,” he said.
“That’s what my family live on. I finished my schooling with A.P.T.C. and I have the skills to be a plumber. So when I get a job with that skill set, my plantation can be my side job.
“That’s how life is. The government doesn’t know how tough it is for farmers.”