Thank you for your editorial in the Samoa Observer dated 11th April 2017 titled “Preparing for the tough times ahead.”
I couldn’t agree with you more. Samoa is a blessed country with an abundance of fertile soils, stable government and a majority of emphatic people with a few exceptions as is the case anywhere in the world.
That your Government has established a stable environment where the only limitation is whether people want to utilize it and work for their development is really a personal choice. The sun rises and sets here every day in the background of a calm setting.
The rains steadily come down in appropriate seasons, the people own most of the land as their heritage, some choose to put some crops in that land before they rush off to search for that extra money to cater for their other basic needs, while others simply focus on the chase for that money without even putting one or two taro plants or bananas or cassava or breadfruit in the land.
At the end of the day when the sun sets after a period of time, the one that didn’t plant anything have nothing to fall back on but perhaps take a keen interest in the neighbor’s taro or other crops ready for harvest.
At end of the day, every family craves for what to eat, shelter with steady supply of electricity, access to health and education services, irrespective of circumstances. In doing so of course some of the wiser families plant extra so that they have something to sale and meet costs of those other essential utilities.
Wouldn’t it be nice if for instance, each of our individual families has sufficient income to live a good life, the family members are educated and they are healthy? The question would then be where will the income come from?
Ideally it can be from any of the following sources: commercial agriculture, investment in value addition processes such as manufacturing, investment in services sector such as shops, transport, hotels, professional services, ICT and Public Service.
Family members who are old enough to pursue and participate in gainful employment shouldn’t shy away from trying those sources either as entrepreneurs or employees.
For those aiming for Public Service, they can only participate in the form of employees of the Government after satisfying certain established criteria which necessitates investment in education process of one’s children from earlier stages and persuading them to persist to at least until graduation.
In whichever sector different family members are placed, they would be making a contribution and contributing to lessening of any real or perceived hardships and contributing to family, society and nation development as long as they have the right perception and mindset tuning.
It is true indeed that agriculture seems to have always been the backbone of this economy. There is an abundance of literature everywhere including on the internet to confirm that.
The question then would be, to what extent is that agriculture being harnessed towards commercial benefit of the economy? What is being done to ensure that nothing goes to waste from what is produced and not entirely consumed or sold at the markets? How do you ensure that agriculture is strengthened to create more incomes, employment opportunities while also catering for food security issues for the locals?
At the macro level looking through for instance, the Trade, Commerce and Manufacturing sector plan, http://www.mcil.gov.ws/index.php/en/division/trade-commerce-and-manufacturing ,the sector theme of that plan seems to have a strategy aiming at exactly addressing that issue.
The sector theme,” Productivity, value adding, competitiveness, income generation and fair trade”, when one reads through the plan in its entirety, it simply prescribes an approach among other things that encourages value addition to local products including in the agriculture sector. What that could mean is that, more of that taro should be processed into taro chips, breadfruit could be processed into breadfruit chips or flour, pawpaw could be processed into juice, mangoes etc. properly packaged and sold on shelves of stores, hotels, groceries and other enterprises. This would not only enhance the variety of locally produced healthier foods but also strengthen circular flow of incomes in the economy.
Every time Samoa relies on imports it means you are paying the producers of what you consume and sustaining the employment of their people and economies. This is not such a bad thing because obviously you cannot say you are able to produce everything. But realistically, for the areas where there is competitive advantage and capability why not give it a shot?
At end of the day every economy is trying to produce and sell something from their own for their prosperity. Key question is to what extent are we using the God given opportunity of life, land and stable environment to advance?
Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country’ JFK.
Wish all a blessed Easter as it approaches, which moment would be great to reflect on sacrifices of your ancestors in setting a stable environment for present and future generations and the tireless efforts and sacrifices of your current elders in society in sustaining that environment for prosperity of current and future generations.