Man masters life of a farmer
It’s early morning but Petaia Salefao of Lepa Aleipata is ready.
Armed with a bush knife, some baskets and taro shoots, he is preparing for another day at the plantation.
For the 24-year-old, cutting the grass, planting taro and weeding the grass is his office work.
“It’s my work and I treat it very seriously,” he said.
“When it comes to the plantation, this is the domain of the taulelea. And I know my role.”
To get to the plantation, it’s a long walk.
“We walk up a dirt footpath through people’s side yards, back yards, garbage piles, mini gardens, and clotheslines. Then we come to the auala galue (access road).
“It is about a 20-minute walk uphill on this road. Then we climb over, under, or through a series of barbed wire fences, which divide the plantations and keep in the bulls/cows and various animals.
“Then we walk for 10 minutes along a very narrow winding path through taro plantations.
“Finally, we cross two more barbed wire fences and reach our plantation.
“There, we collect firewood, coconuts, taro, and whatever else is growing up there.
“Usually when we return we make sure we bring food for the next day.”
Petaia went on to say this is what they have been doing for a living.
And despite the long distance walk to the plantation, he is used to it.
“To be honest, no one works in our family and almost everyone in the village but plantation is all we have,” he said.
“We struggle and that’s the truth. And when you throw the high cost of living into the mix, the struggle only gets worse.
“I am sure many can agree with me that these days are no longer easy. If people’s foreheads don’t sweat then they and their families will go hungry.
“But realistically speaking, the money we make isn’t enough to cover everything my family needs daily, just like I said before the cost of living is ridiculous.”
Still, Petaia knows he has no choice.
“It’s either I continue to work hard at the plantation or I stop and my family starve. Given those choices, I think the answer is quite simple.”
That said, Petaia sets off for another day at the office.