Public urged to buy local
Members of the public have been urged to help local farmers by buying from the growers as the agricultural sector is hit with declining sales due to state of emergency and border restrictions.
The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua made the call following strict measures imposed at markets forcing farmers to take home most of the remaining stock unsold.
Under the state of emergency, supermarkets and markets of any kind have restrictions on their opening hours from 6am to 4pm.
Lopao’o has also urged the farmers to setup alternative small stalls in front of their homes so they can continue to sell their produce after hours for more sales.
““It’s unfortunate the situation that our farmers are in with the strict opening hours for the markets but it is all to prevent the spread of the virus,” the Minister said in an interview.
“These are difficult times and I urge members of the public to buy from our local farmers to support with their sales.
“They are unlike those getting regular salary because their income depends on people buying from them at the market and also our exports…it’s not always steady and consistent.”
The majority of farmers at the markets who spoke to the Samoa Observer have confirmed that their sales have declined following the state of emergency declaration.
Some farmers have blamed confusion among members of the public arising from the state of emergency orders issued by Government that has led to other small businesses cutting off their regular purchases.
Affected small businesses include stalls of cooked food mainly taro and banana in coconut cream and traditional food such as suafa’i, supo esi and others.
A farmer at the Fugalei market, Logoitino Talalelei, said since the state of emergency vendors have stopped buying his bags of pawpaw and bundle of taro.
“The vendors selling cooked food are my regular customers and they have stopped coming since we had the orders,” he said.
“One of them told me that they were told by Police last week it was against the law to sell cooked food so he has stopped until the period for the order is over.
“But I read something in your paper that says it does not apply to those small businesses so I hope they are aware of that so we can get our regular customers back…”
Another woman who spoke with the Samoa Observer, Susana Leiataua, was another vendor who sells her husband’s catch of the day on the side of the road was affected with the confusion.
She previously complained of the Police instructing her that she was not allowed to sell fish on the side of the road due to state of emergency orders.
However, the Chairman of the National Emergency Operation Centre (N.E.O.C.), Ulu Bismarck Crawley, said the order prohibiting street vendors from selling goods does not include those selling their produce outside town.
Ulu said the order was clear and it targeted children and those people selling goods on the streets of Apia and on footpaths in town.
Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi has also clarified that vendors selling cooked food are not included in the street vendor ban.