Farmers, vendors given a chance

By Aruna Lolani ,

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SUPPORTING FARMERS AND MARKET VENDORS: Veronica Vaaiva, Dr. Seeseei Molimau Samasoni, Professor Steven Underhill and Semua Militini Tagoai.

SUPPORTING FARMERS AND MARKET VENDORS: Veronica Vaaiva, Dr. Seeseei Molimau Samasoni, Professor Steven Underhill and Semua Militini Tagoai. (Photo: Misiona Simo)

Farmers and vendors at the market are often ignored in the bigger scheme of things in the world of business.

But thanks to the Food and Agriculture Organization (F.A.O.) and the Scientific Research Organization of Samoa (S.R.O.S.), they have joined forces to provide training to help them improve their work.

The training held throughout the week help farmers to examine food safety risks and educate them on ways to reduce postharvest loss.

Held at the Fugalei Market, one of instructors is Professor Steven Underhill from the University of Queensland, Australia. He has been highlighting the importance of keeping food safe and clean for public consumption.

“What issues can a vendor do to physically reduce your food safety risks?” 

Professor Underhill talked about how important it is to not only to keep food such as vegetables and fruits clean but also stalls clean and neat to attract customers. Chemical residues were identified as one of the risks.

 “This is the second project and it’s all funded by F.A.O.

“So what we’re now doing is a series of workshops both for smallholder farmers and vendors.

“We’ve just finished one last week in Savaii and now we’re also doing one with the market vendors to share that information.

“We’ve seen food safety issues so we’re giving information back about common mistakes people are doing and practical ways to solve them and so forth.”

Asked about the significance of the seminars, Professor Underhill said: “The importance here is that you’ve had people coming in and out doing surveys with vendors and getting information from vendors, not just myself but a lot of consultants and so forth, but the vendors very rarely get the benefit of that information coming back.

Market vendors who came to learn about practical ways to ensure food safety.
Market vendors who came to learn about practical ways to ensure food safety.

“You know they don’t benefit from learning some of the information that some of these studies actually generate and what we’re trying to do now is whatever we’ve learned is information that gets back to the farmers. 

“For example, there’s a series of handouts we’re giving them and there’s a book that we’re starting to produce specifically written for vendors, they’ll be in the Samoan language version.”

Professor Underhill said that this book includes different practices for vendors on what not to do and what is really good for marketing. 

S.R.O.S. Scientific Research Leader, Dr. Seeseei Molimau Samasoni said this is the first time the market vendors are involved in something like this. 

“We’ve found that this is needed because most of the time they get left out of these workshops,” Dr. Samasoni said. 

When we’re trying to target postharvest loss and wastage  we’ve found that even though we targeted the farmers, we see that there’s also a high percentage of loss here in the markets so we wanted to educate the market vendors on ways to improve their returns and ways to reduce postharvest loss.

“On Thursday we are going to show ideas from around the Pacific islands.

There are certain things that market vendors in Fiji, Solomon Islands or Vanuatu  do that are  better, so we want to share those ideas as well to the vendors. It can help them sell fast.  

“On Friday we’re going to open the floor to them to share their ideas on what they think needs to be done to improve market activities.”

The next stage for this project is around July and that is to start working with the vendors about testing and trialing ways to solve some of these problems that they have.

The Accident Compensation Corporation provided the venue for free.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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