The Executive Director of Women in Business Development Inc, Adimaimalaga Tafuna’i, is on a mission to make Samoa healthier.
As part of it, she wants people to know the importance of the connection between healthier lifestyles and organic living. There is another part to it. Organic living can become a revenue generating opportunity transforming lives and economic possibilities.
“I think it’s about time we go back into eating what we grow, eating our own food,” Ms. Tafuna’i says.
“And if you go and buy food from the shop, read the labels and have a look at how much we eat and what made up that product. We know that there a lot of incidents of cancers and many other diseases that people suffer from now. So it’s important that we all think about eating a healthy diet.
“When you think about what’s available in Samoa, everything grows so well, and we can grow more vegetables and lots of things. So it’s mainly going back to eating what we grow.”
Promoting organic farming is one of W.I.B.D’s top priorities, which according to Ms. Tafuna’i, can contribute to a healthier Samoa.
“When you are farming organically, you are actually taking care of the soil and what’s important is that your soil is healthy,” she says.
“What you’re eating needs to be grown in what’s healthy. And so organic farming is putting back something healthy into the soil instead of chemicals because those chemicals come right back into our bodies. They end up in the food that we eat. “But if we do mulching where we put back carbon into our soils, that’s what we need, all those carbon emissions is contributing into climate change. Organic farming means farming responsibly. When you think about it, that’s traditional farming. That’s what our people have always done.”
Many villages in Samoa, including Savai’i have been organically certified.
“And those villages have never allowed chemicals into their villages, since the chemicals came into Samoa.
And it is very exciting to see that in these villages, everything grow so well on their lands. And I bet that the lives of the people living there is a lot better.”
In Savai’i, the villages include A’opo, Sala’ilua, Sagone, Sili and Si’utu. Their ongoing commitment to promote organic farming in Samoa is part of a project called “Farm to Table project,” funded by the United Nation Development Programme.
The project is making a tangible difference, bringing in the school dropouts and the youth to learn and understand how important it is to farm organic.
“We want them to understand the value chain that they can be involved in and how they can contribute into the economy of their families and Samoa by having organic farms and supplies.”
Although the Farm to Table project has been around for a while, the S.I.D.S conference gave it the publicity it needed and from then on it has only grown from strength to strength.
One of the ways they used to promote the project during the conference was selling organically certified niu and smoothies.
“The idea behind the kiosk was just to have some organic products available at there for the people who were interested in eating that way. So we were looking at organic smoothies to be done. And then we thought about bringing organic certified niu into our kiosk.
“We earned $10,000 tala in three days by selling these organic products. $7,000 of that money went back to the farmers. Not only for the niu but also for the organic fruits that had we brought in for the smoothies.”
Now, Ms. Tafanua’i said they are supplying organic niu’s from their organically certified farmers to about 15 hotels, cafe’s and restaurants. “Not only organic niu, but also organic popo, and other fruits that is available at the farms,” she added.
There is another challenge. The restaurants, hotels and cafe’s they’re supplying the organic products to are asking for more herbs and other vegetables they are not used to growing. “So we are also looking to improve in this area.” Ms. Tafuna’i is a true believer that organic farming can help our country in a lot of ways.
It does not only promote a healthy living but it also helps families in the rural areas financially.
What’s more, having the youth involve means it provides much-needed employment opportunities.
“When you go into rural Samoa, everybody has a garden, everybody has a ma’umaga,” she says. “But they only grow this for their own food.
There was not that much thought about commercialising what they do. So what we’re doing with the families is that we are asking them if they can grow enough food to feed their family, then also plant a little bit more and we will help them to find a market.”
It’s an exciting time and sky really is the limit.