Samoa might be blessed with fertile soil but subsistence farmers need a helping hand to cultivate the soil so that it becomes cash cow.
Tone Amituana’i from Falevao and Samata Savai’i are among thousands of farmers in Samoa and he believes the government needs to offer incentives to take farming to the next level.
Speaking to the Village Voice, he said the biggest challenge is the expensive farming tools, fertilisers and chemicals required to expand operations to a level where it can earn money.
The 31-year-old added that farmers need more taro shoots to develop bigger farms.
“Everyone depends on the plantation in Samoa and this is why it is important to find new ways to take farming to another level,” he said.
“We have been subsistent farmers all our lives. We need to do more.”
Tone is from a family of farmers.
“My younger brother and I are farmers.
“Our family is very small; it’s just our parents and the two of us.
“No one is currently employed in my family but we depend on the farm for what we need.”
It’s good money when done correctly.
“I was employed at one of the road construction companies back in the days. I decided to stay home to look after our parents and so that I could have more time to work on our plantation.”
It takes courage to continue, he added.
“When I first started, it was very tough,” he said. “But it’s become a lot easier as we are used to our routine.”
Looking at the taro market, he said he fears the sector becoming flooded.
“We need to find new ways to market our talo. Every one is planting taro and unless we find somewhere for the taro to be taken to, we will end up with too much.
“Families can only eat so much. The rest will be wasted.”
Away from farming, Tone said it’s important for families to live in unity.
“Everyone has a role to play to keep our families strong. What I’ve noticed in my family is that everyone contributes. I have a part to play and my parents have a part to play. At the end of the day, we are all happy.”
Tone concluded that Samoa is a blessed country.
“We are grateful for the blessing of fertile land from the Lord. But I think we need to start thinking about the next level. We cannot just plant taro forever. We need to find other things we can do with this primary product.”