Vaoala strawberry farmer shares her success story

Selling agricultural produce including homegrown strawberries has changed the fortunes of a woman at Vaoala, and saved her and her family from the brink of poverty.

Forty-five-year-old, Nina Seti Siolo, was among local farmers, who were showcasing their agricultural produce at the Annual Samoa Agriculture and Fisheries Show 2019 at Malaefatu on Wednesday.

She had vegetable produce, pot plants and amongst other products homegrown strawberries on display.

In an interview with the Samoa Observer, Mrs. Siolo said she started growing vegetables five years ago and only recently began farming strawberries.

In a good week – if all vegetable sales went well – the mother-of-five can make $1000 tala in sales from a market outside their home.

“It has been two years since I have started farming strawberries," she said. "But it has been five years since I became ac vegetable farmer for cabbages and cucumber. For strawberries it all started when we came across buying one in a show, just like this,” she said.

Prior to becoming a farmer, she worked as a maid and a babysitter and was paid $200 a week, which she said could not pay her family's bills. 

“One day I gave up working and took up farming. It is such a rewarding profession, I have been blessed with earning $1,000 if we sell so many agricultural produces, which is something I could have never earned while I was employed," she said. 

“It is true that so many people look down on agriculture and in all honesty I had my doubts but the income from my produces has helped with family expenses, church and village commitments.”

And while the strawberry looks exotic, Mrs. Mrs. Siolo said being a strawberry farmer is not easy, especially when dealing with snails that damage the fruit.

“If you want to plant strawberries it can lead to more plants growing as long as you water it often.

“At the moment my children enjoy the fruits of the strawberries as snacks which is good because it is healthy for them. I sell the plants in front of our home for $5, $10 and some for $50 so many people want to buy them.

“My children also created a Facebook page to promote our business.”

Mrs. Siolo's only hope is to receive assistance to develop more of her strawberry plants which she hopes to sell locally and hopefully to overseas markets.

When asked to comment on the importance of the agricultural show, she said that it provides a platform for farmers in Samoa to showcase what they have been working very hard to grow. 

“For a farmer, it is the joy of witnessing your harvest bear fruits from all the sweat and hard work that was put in be recognised and displayed for everyone to see," she added.

“Another benefit is that we receive so many customers come and buy our products.

“But it can also get competitive when you have the chance to see all the farmers’ produces, everyone wants their products to be the best and I thank God for the knowledge that he has blessed me with to be able to carry out such a work as this.”

She added that to be a farmer, you need strength and determination to work the land.

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