Locals and aspirations

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Dear Editor,

Re: Will Samoa ever be a self reliant country?

I am totally bamboozled by this article for I can’t get the mixed messages it contains.

The article talks about Samoans lacking initiative and specifically mentions CEO’s, ACEO’s and farmers. The first two groups can speak for themselves but I want to talk on behalf of the farmers.

First of all, the author describes initiative as being the action(s) which leads to this massive eye opening ‘big bang theory’ stuff along the same lines as Einstein’s and other major inventors’ discoveries and inventions. This is one end of the spectrum of innovation. 

This definition fails to include other types on everyday innovation which farmers have adopted and applied to their farming techniques and outlooks. For instance, a farmer might decide that taro planting is longer feasible because of the lack of market openings either locally or overseas. 

The farmer then decides to instead plant kapisi saiga which can sell at the local market for handsome profit. This initiative by the farmer is an innovative move but does not rank along side the list of eye opening innovations which the author appears to push.

In my example, the farmer might take another initiative and plant fa’i paka because he hears that there is a ready market in Australia for this produce. Given the long lead time between planting and harvesting, the farmer may discover that the market no longer exists by the time the bananas are ready to be harvested. 

In my farmer example, one initiative nets him profit (kapisi saiga) and the other results in significant financial and economic loss. 

Taking the initiative does not necessarily lead to good outcomes and self reliance in financial terms. 

Extrapolating my example to the national economy, it can be seen by the number of initiatives in various sectors that they do not necessarily result in more exports (and earnings) for the country. 

Nonu and ava are two examples which spring to mind. Samoa is a small economy far from the main markets of our region, NZ and Australia, and we have a tough time competing with lower cost products from the Asian countries. 

This state of affairs has little to do with people’s lack of unitive and most to do with our geographic location and size.

I don’t begrudge the locals who want to emulate the lifestyle of the overseas contractors and consultants who earn attractive salaries and live lavish lifestyles. When these expatriates stay on by marrying locally, the demonstration effect of their lifestyle becomes stark to how the locals live.

 Locals who aspire to this type of lifestyle might take the initiative of seeking help from overseas relatives.

Perhaps the fairer question this article should pose is whether the employment of overseas contractors and consultants has increased the stockpile of initiatives for the country.

 

Vai Autu 

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