Rural farmers need helping hand
The cost of fuel doesn’t just impact vehicle owners.
Even people who don’t have vehicles are hit hard.
Kilifi Timoteo from Matatufu knows what it feels like. Without a vehicle, he has to find a way to take his crops to the Fugalei market.
“I mean almost half of the money that I earn from selling taro is spent on paying a pick-up for a bag of taro,” he said.
“For a pick-up, I pay $150 for one load, and that’s too much for us farmers back here.
“Yes we can sell in front of our houses, but it’s very slow and that’s why we always want to go to Apia.”
To use a bus, Kilifi said it’s $10 for one basket.
“The thing is we can’t rely on a bus to take our taro to Apia because it all depends on the whether there is room.
“So when you think of the many people who travel to Apia from this side and the bus only comes here twice a day, that’s why we have to find other transportation means.
“The only option for us is to hire a pick-up even though it’s very expensive.”
The rising fuel prices have not helped.
“As I’ve mentioned earlier, it’s a real problem for us here. It’s very hard to live especially at this time, taro are everywhere, so I end up selling one basket of taro at the market for $5.
“I mean I settle for whatever I can get, but at least I can earn from it for the good of my family especially my three children who are in school.”
Kilifi believes the only solution is for the government to open (many) overseas markets and then send out trucks to collect taro from the farmers.
“I think that is the only solution for this problem, for it will save time and money for us farmers.
“They need to make it easier for us. I think of all these government vehicles being abused unnecessarily. Imagine if one of them was sent out here to collect taros?”
Aside from the said problem, Kilifi said life in their village is great.
“Everything is fine here. Life is peaceful and there are no other challenges.
“The simple things here in the village are what makes me happy and that’s what makes me want to stay here and spend the rest of my life here.”