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Project boosts local growers’ potential

The handover ceremony of 110 tunnel and shade houses to 80 farmers earlier this month was part of the fourth phase of the China – Samoa Agricultural Technical Aid Project.

The recipients were selected last year from over 200 applicants and went through agricultural technical training throughout this year to ensure that they were equipped with new vegetable cultivation technology skills to grow new varieties and maintain the cost efficient vegetable production technologies.

Malaefono organic plantation owner, Tausala Cook, was one of the recipients of a shade house and technical training through the project and she said it was an enhancement to her fruit farming operation. 

“Having the shade house is a big bonus, I am an agriculturalist who never liked dealing with plants that are finicky such as leafy vegetables and only grew enough to feed my family and supply certain people,” she said. 

“But having the shade house now will help me tap further in the vegetable market and it goes hand in hand in enhancing my small operation of being a fruit farmer. My heartfelt thanks to Mr. Jim Liu and his team of agriculture experts” 

Mr. Liu and his team of specialists visited more than 200 farm households in Samoa last year, with Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries field staff to conduct surveys and inspections. Ms. Cook put her name forward and was successful in her application. According to her, technical training was ongoing throughout this year before the official handover.

“Having any expert come through and talk about different alternatives to farming is always helpful. Like they say ‘there is more than one way to skin a cat’with farming or any career in general you never stop learning.”

At the ceremony earlier in the month, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua congratulated the recipients of the tunnel and shade houses pointing out that the initiative contributes significantly towards the realisation of desired objectives in the Samoa Development Strategy and Agriculture Sector Plan. 

“I must say from my short tenure as the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, just over one year now, this is one partnership that has visibly shown and proven significant positive economic and social impacts on the lives of our farmers.

“The main objective of this activity is to increase the production of safe and high quality vegetables with the ultimate aim of improving the welfare of our farmers.”

Lopao’o also issued a reminder to the farmers that the Ministry will take a “use it or lose it” approach to farmers who do not utilise the technologies. He added any decision M.A.F. will make to invest in more tunnel and shade houses for farmers in the future, will depend to a significant extent, on the success of the operations of your model farms.

“I just want to remind you all that our Ministry will continue to support those farmers who help themselves,” Lopao’o said 

The handover of these tunnel and shade houses to you is not only the transfer of property for your use, but also transfer of responsibility to you for their maintenance.  Because at the end of the day, only you will reap the economic and social benefits associated with these production technologies.

And I will not shy away from saying that those of you who will not fully utilise the tunnel and shade houses for their intended purposes, our Ministry will have second thoughts in providing any further assistance towards your agriculture related developments.

The group of 80 farmers (58 from Upolu and 22 in Savaii) were selected from over 200 interested farmers, which included farmers from our three farmers associations (Samoa Farmers Association, Samoa Federated Farmers Incorporated, and Savaii Farmers Association), the prize winners of our 2017 Agriculture Show, and SACEP beneficiaries.

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