Fighting unemployment with organic farming

The advantages of organic farming are diverse. Together with the support of the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development’s Youth Employment Programme and U.N.D.P. (United Nations Development Programme), Women in Business Development has found yet another one: the opportunity to tackle unemployment with specialized knowledge on organic farming in Samoa.

The 12-week long workshop that kicked off just this week will educate 22 young people aged between 19 and 32 years in every sector of farming and even beyond: “We created this workshop as a two-year programme with six trainings, each and every one of them for a length of three months.

We want to teach young people how to become organic farmers, so that they can enter the supply chain”, explained Faumuina Felalini Tafunai of Women in Business Development, who functions as the workshop’s trainer.

Said supply is actually part of a very well-considered plan concerning the future career options of the training’s attendees. “We look in supplying our restaurants and hotels with the goods that they can farm. [Women in Business] has been running this programme since three years now, so this is a kind of youth stinted project [in which] we also try to identify what are the problems for them concerning youth unemployment”.

Those problems, which include, according to Women in Business for instance crimes, feelings of low self-esteem and suicide among young, unemployed members of Samoa’s society.

Within the workshop, the participants were given a voice on the subject, resulting in many different ideas of modern organic farming: “We asked them, what an ideal farm should look like. And then we developed their ideas. Together we spoke about resources, training and ongoing support to discuss how we could achieve their suggestions”, Tafunai told.

“We have already learnt a lot about organic farming and I am really curious what will be the issue of next week’s lessons”, said Leilani Toalua. The 26-year old women from the village of Faleasiu was contacted and finally selected for the workshop by Women in Business because she currently finds herself in the unpleasant situation of being unemployed.

The workshop’s course indeed follows a structure that not only will cover the farming process itself, as Faumuina Felalini Tafunai was able to tell: “We will also try to provide them with background knowledge on the process as a whole, for instance by explaining what it does take to stay in business, promotion, budgeting, pricing and all these aspects”.

Since farming still is a physical demanding occupation, the young people also train for this part of what might become their job one day: “We have had exercises every day since the training started, because they have to be aware of how exhausting the process of farming can be most of the time”.

After this first week of training, the young soon-to-be farmers have received their first certificate in the workshop. Hopefully many will follow for them, so that one day, the effort put in the workshop finally results in the goal it is aiming at for the young people: a financially secure future.

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