Small grant kickstarted new produce for local farmer
A total of 240 projects are benefiting from the United Nations Development Programme (U.N.D.P.) providing small grants to to environmentally inventive projects. One is Euphrates Farm Fresh Organics by Tapu Tuailemafua from Fa'atoia.
At a U.N.D.P.'s strategy planning consultation session at the Samoa Tourism Fale on Thursday, the 61-year-old entrepreneur was more than happy to share his experience launching a business with the aid of the Global Environment Finance (G.E.F.) grants.
"Most of these people do not farm [...] they are far removed from reality but we believe [...] it’s better that we communicate the realities to them so that they can think [about what is involved]," he said.
Tuailemafua said he wished for the programme to focus on food issues in urban areas and the many diseases that stem from unhealthy eating habits that come with urbanisation.
He said he applied for the grant together with four others as a group. The first round of funding of $24,000 they received from the grant has been very helpful in developing his farm.
His produce includes fruits, vegetables, and a wide variety of herbs. Tuailemafua is one of the only growers of broccoli in Samoa.
He has a steady market for his produce including Taumeasina and Tiapapata Arts Center; he also partook in the most recent Pacific Agricultural Week 2019 hosted by Samoa reccently.
Filifilia Iosefa, the Small Grants Programme (S.G.P.) coordinator for Samoa, Niue and Tokelau said most projects focus on biodiversity and land degradation.
Other focal points for the programme include international water, waste management, climate change and areas such as gender, youth and people with disabilities,
For biodiversity, he said most of the villages apply to set up marine reserves for their villages, while land degradation includes projects such as reforestation, farming, agriculture, and food security.
The projects are said to be used for the villages to earn money and as tourist attractions in each village.
The S.G.P. is the only programme that hands the grant directly to the village communities in order to implement their projects needed. Most villages seek to rehabilitate their rivers or revive their natural spring pools.
Iosefa said the maximum full grant they can provide to any community depending on the scope of their project is US$50,000.
Asked about the challenges of funding management by the villages he said there is always that challenge but there is always a lesson to be learnt from those challenges.
Through these grants, the villages are taught about accountability, project management and looking at the bigger picture.
"There is always that challenge that we face, with a little bit of mismanagement of funds, but in the end it works out well because through making mistakes people learn from it. So, one of the best lessons we’ve learnt is the villages’ governing structures have improved because they see the value of this funding going to good use to benefit everyone, not just a few," said Iosefa.
"Through our consultation and our training workshop and capacity workshops we have been able to make them learn and realize that this money is the start of something that could benefit everyone, something that would be sustainable for the benefit of everyone."
Since 2003, the S.G.P. has dispensed funding to the value of about US$5 million in Samoa alone, he said.