Savai'i farmers get new trucks for coconut business

By Soli Wilson 11 September 2020, 5:00AM

The fortunes of two coconut farmers changed overnight when they went from carrying buckets of water to fix their broken-down trucks to driving brand new Hyundai Mighty trucks.

Vailolo Nu’uletau of Paia and Taalafu Aipovi Gasu from Satupaitea were given the keys to two Hyundai Mighty trucks on Thursday, which they will now add to their coconut farm assets, thanks to a loan facilitated by the local firm Serendi Coco Ltd and the Development Bank of Samoa [DBS].

Serendi Coco Ltd, a coconut oil producing company, facilitated the purchase of the two trucks, which cost $145,000 each.

The trucks will allow the two farmers to collect coconuts easily and get the dried coconuts transported to the company’s branch in Salelologa as well as pay off their debts to the D.B.S.

Mr. Nu’uletau’s father, Nuuletau Tanielu, said the truck will be of great help to the business and he has handed it to his son.

“My whole life I have worked with coconuts. But this time I feel so much gratitude towards Serendi for their help, enabling the loan for this vehicle,” he said.

“The truth is if it wasn’t for this company, we would never have been able to afford this. I don’t know about other coconut farmers, but my family would have never been able to buy something like this.”

Mr. Tanielu said the current vehicle that they use in the coconut plantation is an old truck which often breaks down.

“We heavily rely on these trucks because there aren’t many people who work the lands anymore; many are seeking opportunities overseas, so these trucks are our lifelines,” he added.

“But the trucks are so unreliable. There are two but most of the money earned goes into maintaining the trucks. This is why I am so happy today for the assistance of Serendi which has allowed the banks to agree to this loan.”

The family has been in a business partnership with the coconut oil manufacturing company for about 20 years.

Mr. Gasu’s mother, Faatu’iavae AIpovi Gasu, was also happy to see the new truck firsthand. 

“We did not expect to be blessed with such assistance, especially for us farmers. Our business started in 1977 and it was hard starting up [...] at the time with the lack of vehicles and good roads,” she said.

“And a good business vehicle is what we have been trying for all these years until the old man passed away in 2014 and passed the business onto our son. And it is such an opportunity I am most grateful for.”

Mrs. Gasu said the assistance by Serendi Coco Ltd was needed by farmers who have faced obstacles trying to access finance.

Serendi Coco Ltd. is in partnership with more than 1000 farmers nationwide who collect and dry coconuts which are then grounded into oil for export.

In addition to the trucks, the two farmers were also recipients of a full fuel tank, a 12 month registration and a three year warranty, thanks to Ford Samoa.

By Soli Wilson 11 September 2020, 5:00AM

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