A Chinese expert is helping Samoan farmers navigate new trends of farming.
Dr. Jim Liu is in Samoa a.s the key part of the China – Samoa Agricultural Technical Aid Project Phase IV (C.S.A.T.A.P.) 2017 -2020, which provides ongoing practical support for farmers in Samoa.
Located at Nu’u, the demonstration farm is managed by Dr. Jim Liu, who has implemented a practical and sustainable farming system that not only provides technical support and advice to farmers, but also the material to put it into practice.
During an official ceremony by the Chinese agricultural team and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, a handover of 100 tunnel and shade houses to 80 model farmers chosen from more 200 applicants last year was conducted.
However, Mr. Liu said while there are no more tunnel or shade houses available, technical training and support is still accessible to farmers who want to improve on old farming systems and receive technical advice and support to improve their farms.
“I still get people calling me about the tunnel and shade houses, but they were already allocated and handed over to farmers who met the criteria set by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. We have no more tunnel and shade houses, but we can still help with agricultural training and technical assistance.”
One of the biggest constraints of agricultural development in Samoa, Mr. Liu said, is a shortage of good cultivated land and the limitations set by traditional farming technologies still used today.
“You have to change the farmer system especially for crops and livestock,” he said. “For livestock, Samoa still uses the free range system and feed them only coconut, which is not enough and they grow too slowly. We need to use a whole new system to feed them properly and if we feed them properly they can grow faster.”
Mr. Liu has also developed an organic chicken feed made with mostly local ingredients, which is produced on site and readily available to farmers.
He suspects that the next phase of the C.S.A.T.A.P. will focus on livestock as the Government looks to target import substitution.
“Maybe in the next phase we will try and work with farmers in providing machinery. We’ll look at how we can produce more free range chicken because Samoans eat a lot of imported chicken. But it depends on the Ministry, who has shown they are interested in livestock because we have got so many livestock products and they would like to see systems that help the farmers raise more chickens, pigs and cattle.”
Agro-machinery operation and maintenance technology is also available to farmers who want to clear the land, Mr. Liu said typically in Samoa, land is not prepared properly but it is vital to improving and producing high quantity and quality livestock and crops.
“The tractor is available for use but they must clear the land of rocks. Farmers do not prepare the land and this is one of the biggest constraints of agricultural growth in Samoa. Ninety percent of farmers raise chicken and pigs in free range system and it is crucial for them to clear the land.”
Mr. Liu added they plan to do more training on crop-livestock-biogas circulation agriculture technology and a possibility that digesters will be available to qualifying farmers who will be able to produce their own organic fertiliser, compost and bio gas.
Coffee and cocoa processing machinery is also available to farmers.
C.S.A.T.A.P. is based at the Crops division in Nu’u. It is implemented by the Hunan Province Agricultural Economic cooperation.