There is money in the land: 60-year-old farmer
A farmer who has been working the land for over 30 years has appealed to those who are unemployed to return to their plantations.
Sixty-year-old Vaifale Alaovae of Leauvaa – who currently runs a business selling pineapples to supermarkets, at the Fugalei market as well as local hotels – said locally grown crops have a lot of value and Samoa has a lot of potential due to its arable land.
"We need to return to being farmers because farming was the way that Samoa developed," he said. “Coconuts and koko, these are the stuff that still has a lot of value on the market. We need to return to work on the land, because Samoa has a huge amount of land but what I see now people are unemployed and in the town area wasting their time and causing trouble.”
Besides his other customers, he has a stall at the Fugalei market, though he initially started at the old Savalalo market.
“I started selling produce at the old market at Savalalo but now I am here at the Fugalei market and I am still dedicated to this line of work. My life as a farmer started when I was a kid. Now I have children and grandchildren but I am still working as a farmer," he said.
According to the 60-year-old, he has tasted the “sweetness of the blessings” of being a farmer and in a normal week he would usually earn around $400 to $500, and sometimes more than $500 selling fruits and vegetables.
"Some of my kids who are now staying in other villages have followed my footsteps and now have their own farms. Some of them have now established small markets to sell their produce so that they could earn an income," he added.
But the farmer was not spared the global onslaught of the coronavirus (COVID-19), and revealed that the shutdown of the tourism industry in Samoa also had an impact on his sales following the closure of most hotels.
"My farm is a pineapple farm in particular and I would usually deliver and sell them to small markets, supermarkets, and hotels, but during these times there have been a few problems," he said.
Nonetheless, he is not throwing in the towel and is encouraging youth who are currently unemployed to return to farming, as they will realise the fruits of their labour after three to four months.
"After three or four months of work on the farm, you will get fruits and vegetables that you can quickly earn an income with. You will get lots of money from being a farmer. Whoever is unemployed return to the farm and become a farmer," he added.