Farmers share ideas at forum

The convening of the 2nd National Farmers Forum at Tuanaimato last week was an opportunity for farmers to share ideas on how to overcome their various challenges.

Samoa Farmers Association chairman, Afamasaga Toleafoa, told the Samoa Observer in an interview that the hosting of such forums will enable the collation and sharing of ideas by the farmers. 

“The objectives will be to first of all highlight the role of farmers in the economy and the cultural lives, economic and social life of Samoa,” he said.

“Agriculture is very important for food security, for export generation, and even in the cultural life of Samoa and in the villages, this is what they do.

“Life revolves around the land and keeping the villages doing what they do and all the social cohesion and all that, supporting the Government and its programs for rural Samoa.”

Afamasaga added that productive agriculture practised in the villages can lead to vibrant rural communities.

“So instead of young people running off to Apia looking for jobs, they can stay home and work on their laps and you end up with a very good community that teaches all its work forces and incomes.”

A drive to the rural community outside of Apia will see the setting up of many small roadside markets which Afamasaga says can become an extra source of income for the family.

He added that food markets are expanding, though not a lot of produce gets sent to Apia for selling.

“People just sell it in front of their houses and I mean that’s what we want to see an economically vibrant, rural Samoa. 

“You don’t want everybody running off to Apia looking for work for income generation.”

According to the S.F.A. Chairman, those are all sorts of ideas which need to be encouraged to support farming.

He added that it is also important that there is a vibrant and living community in rural Samoa – not just those who rely on remittances from abroad and money from Apia. 

“We can’t invite all the farmers because of the pandemic restrictions. Farmers organisations working together and then the other key participants working together, they turned out pretty well with the donors, farmers can’t do all these work all on their own without the Government’s support.”

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries as well as donors like the United Nations F.A.O. support the Government's agricultural policy.

The Government sets the policy, which is usually in the form of a five-year agriculture development plan that takes five years to implement, and sets the guidelines on what needs to be done.

As part of the consultation process the Government will now be meeting with the farmers and donors to formulate the next plan going into the future.

“So the forum by the farmers, it gives an opportunity for them to discuss issues that are important to the Government and that’s what we did,” Afamasaga said.

“We have a whole lot of issues that the farmers would like to address and the Government to the donors and these are issues that the farmers cannot deal with as they’re too big.

“Things like providing water. Irrigation and then providing and fixing up access roads, plantation roads, without that, it’s very hard to develop farming in a commercial way if you cannot because there are no roads 

“But there are roads that vehicles need to use easily without damaging vehicles, so those are the things the Government needs to do, farmers can’t do that.

“So we use these events to discuss those issues like water as well. We need a lot of water and we’re fortunate if it’s raining.”

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