A planter but not by choice

People talk about working the land all the time.

They speak about making lots of money from the plantation.

What they don’t tell you is that it is a lot of hard work.

Ask Fuipani Teo from the villages of Vaitele and Leusoali’i and he will tell you it’s easier said than done.

“I think if people had other options they would not resort to the plantation,” he said. “Because it’s hard work, you get burnt from the sun, you get sick when it rains and it takes lots of patience to develop a plantation.”

The 55-year-old is a farmer.

But it wasn’t by choice.

 “This is always the case with families like us where no one works. The plantation is our way of survival. We have to do it.”

“If you’re unemployed, then you have no choice. Your money will come from the plantation. It can also be your source of food.

“My family and I have been working this plantation for a long time.

“We have been on this land for years now and this is our only source of income because no one works.”

Getting money is a struggle.

“We struggle because there is a lot of competition with the crops we sell. Everyone is selling the same thing mostly taro.

“The money we earn is usually $50 per day which is not enough for our basic needs.”

But he is grateful.

“My plantation provides us with food. When we’re in need of money then we just sell some banana on the side of the road. The important thing for us is having enough bananas to sell so that we can earn money for our children’s school.” 

Fuipani lives with his five children.

“The hardest thing we face every day is having to carry our stuff down the main road in the sun. It is also the same when it’s raining.” 

Fuipani’s goal is to develop a better house for his family. 

 “I’m not ashamed to tell you about our house,” he said. “As you can see, living in this house is hard. “We barely fit inside but we still are coping. Lucky we get to have water and electricity.”

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