Overcoming the challenges of farming

By Vatapuia Maiava and Ilia L Likou 04 October 2016, 12:00AM

People often say anyone can make a living from working the land.

But it’s easier said than getting it done.

Puele To’aimagalogo, from the village of Malie-Uta, says farmers don’t always have the strength to work every single day.

They are humans prone to sickness.

Aged, 47, Puele is a farmer who plants a wide variety of crops including peanuts, peas, cabbages and taro but farming wasn’t always easy for him.

“We were staying in the coastal area in 1989 but we decided to move further inland recently,” he told the Village Voice.

“When we moved here it wasn’t easy at all. My daughter works at Frankie and then we started to plant crops to make some money.

“We grow peas, different types of cabbages, peanuts and other crops. This family survived on cabbages though. We used it to earn money and to make our meals.

“It was so hard in the beginning because I would worry a lot with how I would look after the family especially the children.”

According to Opuele, working a plantation is tough but it earns you more than what people are paid these days.

“I was employed before but then I decided to focus on growing vegetables,” he said.

“There is a big difference from being employed and working on a plantation. The pay here in Samoa is very small and not enough to cater for family needs.

“Even though it’s hard work, the earnings from a plantation is much more. It’s enough that my children are working but I want to stay home and work the land.

“My land is pretty big; it’s from my mother’s side of the family and its 32 acres. I have a taro and a banana plantation at the back.”

For Opuele, he makes a decent amount from farming peanuts and other crops but the money doesn’t come every day.

“The money is alright now especially with the peanuts,” he said. “Once the peanuts are ready after three months then we would make close to $4,000 from sales. The patch I have right now will be the last one of the year because I can only grow it four times a year.

“I would sell peanuts and koko to those who import from New Zealand. They are our biggest buyers and we earn good money from them.”

And there are always those few problems all farmers face.

“Farming crops comes with its own sets of problems,” Puele said.

“An example would be peanuts; the problems with that are the rats. We would lose half of our plantation because of them and that’s why we started growing cats.

“The cat idea has been working so far and we have saved quite a bit because of it. Another problem we had back in the days was the road and water but now it’s alright because we got some help.

“Right now a personal problem that all farmers face is finding strength to work. It’s not like we would have enough strength every day to work the plantation.

“We could get sick or weak one day and that would affect what we make from our crops. That’s a small look into a life of a farmer.”

By Vatapuia Maiava and Ilia L Likou 04 October 2016, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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