Savaii veggie choices affect farmer's sale
The demand and need for vegetables varies for people on Upolu and Savaii.
Since she started farming three years ago, Temukisa Tofilau noted that there are certain vegetables that are not widely consumed by people in Savaii compared to Upolu, especially herbs such as green pepper.
“The favourite vegetables that most people in Savaii like are cucumbers, cabbage and tomato and other stuff they don’t,” Ms. Tofilau said.
This is a challenge for her as a commercial vegetable farmer because it affects the sale of her produce that are not of high demand by the locals in Savaii.
“So I’m trying to introduce the herbs to people of Savaii because it’s good for the health. In Upolu, people normally eat these sorts of vegetables and herbs when they buy it from the supermarket.”
Ms. Tofilau loves planting and she started cultivating the land by creating a keyhole garden in their backyard.
“When I started farming in 2015, I bought a spade and seedlings, and I got some friends who are farmers who gave me free seeds to start my farm,” she said to the Business team.
“I don’t want my family to go and ask other people for vegetables or buy from other people or shops, so I ensured that the garden would provide for my family.”
Ms. Tofilau received two tunnel houses and a water system in February last year, when her application for farming assistance under the China-Samoa Agriculture project was approved.
“Tunnel houses are very good for Samoa’s weather, especially for cabbages. I plant round cabbage, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, tomatoes, long bean, cucumber, turmeric, corn, peanut, eggplant, spring onion, lettuce and herbs,” she said.
“When I started I was selling Chinese cabbage for $3 tala, its fast money, but planting them is not that easy.
“So when we do deliveries of mostly Chinese cabbage, long bean, cucumbers and eggplants, I make about $800-$1000 a week in sales.”
Ms. Tofilau said she delivers three times a week to her village and only when there’s a request, then she delivers to restaurants.
“If I deliver every day, then its cucumbers, tomatoes and cabbage, I also have customers who come home to buy and some would just call to place their orders, but we do not sell on Sundays.”
The 34-year-old mother of three from Vaiafai, Iva, Savaii said she tries to minimize the use of fertilizer because of the impact it can have on her produce and also because it costs $100 tala a bag, which is expensive.