$7.5million agriculture project
Nine agricultural experts from China are in Samoa to implement Phase four of the China-Samoa Intergovernmental Agricultural Technical Cooperation Project.
They consolidate on Chinese advanced planting and processing technologies of vegetables and fruits in the next three years.
Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture, Tilafono David Hunter, said the project is important for Samoa.
“As you all know the Chinese government has accepted a request from our country with regards to the assistance for the development of our agricultural sector, particularly in vegetable production,” Tilafono said.
“Phase one was officially opened in 2010 on these ten acres here at Nu’u, and this is where most of the phase one activities were implemented.”
He said that phase one was a huge demonstration to showcase technologies that can be used by farmers.
“They are not really high tech technology; they are low tech technology utilizing materials that are regularly available in the country.
“Phase two was the building of ten advisory centers for both Upolu and Savai’i.
“Phase three we fixed up these buildings that were damaged by cyclone Evan in 2012. So phase four is the three-year project worth $7.5million tala.”
The C.E.O added that the purpose of phase four is to extend the workable technologies for vegetable production studies untaken at Nu’u.
Zhiwen Liu is leading the Chinese team in Samoa.
“If the farmers have certain area of cultivated land, water source and the enthusiasm to plant watermelon, they can apply to Samoan M.A.F and Chinese embassy to Samoa for help,” Mr. Zhiwen said.
“In fact, the extension of watermelon cultivation technology is just one of the many activities will be carried out by the phase IV project, we will introduce many new improved varieties, such as tomato, lettuce, maize etc. which rely on import currently, and increase the substitution of import.
“We will choose about 100 demonstration farm households or schools to build 110 tunnel houses or shade houses; carry out large-scale training activities which will train 6000 local technicians and farmers; provide a batch of agricultural machineries, including tractors and processing machines etc.; upgrade the China-aid Demonstration Farm into a centre of variety test, a window of Chinese agricultural technology demonstration, a platform of agricultural exchange and a base of agricultural technical training.
“I believe, through the common effort of 3 years, we are sure to increase Samoan vegetable production, replace vegetable import gradually, promote the export of agricultural products, stabilize the food security and increase the farmers’ income.”
They noticed Samoan people like watermelon very much but the watermelon in the market mainly relies on import.
“If local farmers know the technology of watermelon cultivation, the price of watermelon will be greatly lowered in the market, which is beneﬁcial for both farmers and customers, and Samoa will save a lot of hard currency from the decreased import of watermelon.”
The Chinese experts had produced high-quality and sweet watermelon on the China-aid Demonstration Farm at Nuu village during the last 6 years.
Therefore, they are very conﬁdent about the transferring of watermelon cultivation technology to Samoan farmers. They plan to choose a group of farmers with certain criteria as the demonstration fann households.
At the beginning, they invite the farmers to the demonstration farm for hand-on-hand technical transferring of watermelon cultivation, after that, they will help the farmers to build vegetable tunnel houses and provide technical service to them freely and make sure that the farmers can produce watermelon by their own.
They will also help these farmers contact the supermarket and increase their income from the watermelon. Liu hopes that Samoan people can eat watermelon produced in Samoa this time next year. Among them, ﬁve experts will work in Upolu and four of them will be posted in Savai’i island for agricultural technical extension.