Local ‘ava producer: If it works, why not?
When Kuresa Fagamalo from the village of Gataivai Savai’i discovered success through sales of ava Samoa, he quickly made the most of it.
The young father can be found sitting at the Salelologa market selling both ava and tobacco.
Aged 42, Kuresa spoke to the Village Voice about his recent success with Ava sales.
“I haven’t been growing ava for very long,” he said.
“It was just recently when I found out how great growing ava is. It brings me a lot of joy too because it’s decent source of income.
“I first tried it to see if I can grow good quality ava and I found out that it was pretty good. From then on I started to find out more about the crop before I grew a larger sum of it.”
Kuresa admits that it wasn’t easy, but the pros outweighed the cons.
“I enjoyed it but it wasn’t easy getting the hang of it,” he said.
“I never did it when I was young so I had to learn the hard way. Once my first batch was done I started to sell ava in my village and then made my way to the market.
“It was all sold quickly which got me keener on growing more. I then told my wife if my second batch succeeds then I will focus solely on ava.”
With his products selling very fast, Kuresa says the money is very good.
“It has been very successful for me,” he said.
“You see it hasn’t even reached 9am yet and I have already sold five packs. So I already have $50 in my pocket and the day just started.
“The money I make goes a lot towards things for the family, especially the children’s schooling.
“We also have to take care of obligations towards the church and the village but it’s nothing new I guess. It’s normal for us Samoans.
“But out of all the spending, I reckon most of my money goes towards food.”
But there is still another major problem for Kuresa.
“The only problem I face is that it takes about three years to grow ava,” he said.
“Then I have to dry and pound it to dust before I package it for sale. It takes about three days to do all of that. The crop takes too long to grow.”
Kuresa’s message to Samoa is to return back to the simple lifestyle of the old days.
“The funny thing about us Samoans is that even though the cost of living is expensive, we still want chicken and other expensive things,” he said.
“We have so much on our land that we can use for food but we want to waste our money. I have six children with four of them still in school.
“I try to be an example for all my children. I want them to learn that if someone is lazy then they will go hungry. So I work as hard as possible for them.
“No matter how expensive life gets, hard work will get you through.”