Climate change-resilient crop project ends

A project that assisted villagers to grow climate change-resilient crops has closed after a six-month implementation program.

A ceremony to mark the closing of the Civil Society Support Programme (C.S.S.P.) at Ulutogia was held on Saturday. The project involved 35 families and focused on the cultivation of three main crops umala (sweet potatoes), manioka (cassava) and ufi (yam), which are considered resilient to cyclones and other natural disasters. 

The project ran for six months and its conception was based on feedback from the Ulutogia villagers. The $50,000 funding support came from the C.S.S.P. with the village contributing $20,000 of their own. 

A villager, Tualemoso Faafetai, 48, said that each family had four fences, which measured 200 meters in length and were built around their houses. 

“Because our village has moved inland our main problem are the pigs because that is their camping site. The crops get badly affected with pigs consuming our crops and destroying any hope we have in our plantations. The fence protects the crops from being affected by the pigs,” he said.

Tualemoso said Samoans are used to growing taros, bananas and breadfruit - which are their staple crops - but the introduction of sweet potato and cassava is a challenge for them. 

“All the Pacific Islanders love eating these varieties of foods except us. I see that Samoa faces a problem with sustainability of food throughout the year, even including my village.

“I witnessed in Tonga that they never ran out of food, they have a good system, the lands may be small but they inter-crop so many different varieties of crops,” he added.

But Samoans have to accept alternative crops, as according to Tualemoso the supply of taro is dwindling. 

“To solve this solution in Samoa, we need to substitute taro with cassava or sweet potatoes because people depend on taro for food and a source of income, which leads to the supply of taro decreasing.”

Planting and consuming sweet potatoes and cassava is also healthy, added Tualemoso. 

“The villagers now have the opportunity to be part of something and make use of their time, whether it is in the morning or evening, they are all keen to work together.”

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