What makes a good farmer? Is it the size of his plantation, the variety of his crops, or maybe the hours he puts into work?
For Samuelu Ape, 70, from the village of Vaoala, a smart farmer can make the most of the limited space they are given.
With only a small patch of land to his name, Samuelu grows a variety of unique crops different to the usual taro and banana.
“As you can see this is how we are using our small piece of land,” he tells the Village Voice.
“This small space is all I have available to me to work. Even though the space is limited this is what my family does, we farm a wide range of crops.”
“We have Onions, cabbages, tomato, kumara, pumpkins, cucumber and more. My family works together on our small land to produce whatever we can. Sometimes when a few of our crops die then we rely only on onions.”
Out of all the vegetables he grows, Samuelu says that the most reliable one is onions.
“We focus on onions because it’s seems to be a good source of income for my family,” he said.
“Unlike other crops, onions are very reliable because they don’t die. Shops place orders on our onions and that’s the money my family lives on.”
“Not many people grow onions here in Samoa. Yes we have other good crops for making money like cabbages but it’s not a good idea to rely on them. They die very easily.”
“Onions can grow throughout the year.”
Samuelu says that onions are very easy to grow and urges everyone in Samoa to try it out.
“Onions are very easy to grow,” he said.
“You can easily just use your hard to make a small hole and then plant the onions. I use fertilizer to help grow it better and it will take about 4 weeks before its ready.”
“My advice to everyone in Samoa is to focus on growing onions. I don’t know why not many people are doing this; onions can easily make you money and I guarantee that.”
“Onions are the best crops in my opinion.”
But no matter how much Samuelu makes from his plantation, he says our culture drains way too much.
“The only problem I can see in this country is that no matter how many employed family members you have; you will not have enough,” he said.
“There are way too many cultural practices that take a lot of money. The vegetables I grow help a lot in dealing with those practices and it also helps the family a lot.”
“But no matter how much we make, there are still too many fa’alavelave to deal with. When one finishes then another pops up out of nowhere.”