Ava plantation- Samoa's hidden treasure
Va'ele Iona Paia'aua, a businessman and owner of Ava-a-Safune from Matavai on the big island of Savai'i believes that ava farming is one of Samoa's untapped hidden treasures.
The 56-year-old said that while it is hard and labor-intensive to own and operate an ava plantation, the rewards are satisfying.
Together with the Satuala Development, Ava-a-Safune by Vaele Iona are now supplying ava in powder form to America.
"I don't have the details of the market we are supplying," he told Samoa Observer.
"But we got an opening to supply ava powder to an overseas market through connections we made with the Satuala Development from Neiafu.
"For this month, we are supplying 300 kilos worth of ava powder that has been packed and it is $90 per kilo.
"That will total up to a cost of $27,000."
Asked about why and when he started ava farming, Vaele said, "for this particular harvest, we started planting it in 2017.
"The plan was to wait after four years then we will start harvesting, but we saw that it had matured enough after three years and a couple of months, therefore we started extracting ava roots from our three-year-old lots.
"For this kind of plantation, it takes a lot of hard work, determination and dedication."
Vaele said they have embraced with open arms the availability of an international market to export ava to America.
"We are grateful for the opportunity and we are happy that there is a market where we can sell our ava to and earn money.
"The agreement we had with Satuala Development is that we would each prepare 500 kilos of ava for America, for two months
"So it is 250 kilos per month.
"I don't have the details for the market and where we are selling it to, but we are happy that there is a door of opportunity for us to export our ava to America."
Vaele truly believes that ava farming is one of the most "promising" developments in Samoa.
"There is a lot of money and it is one of the most promising developments for us in Savai'i,” he said.
"I know for sure that a lot of families in Safune are working on this development which is good because when it comes to the time of harvesting, many families will benefit from it.
"It does require a lot of work and time, but once you reap the fruits of your hard work, it will be very sweet and satisfying."
He also used the opportunity to encourage more farmers to join the market and start investing in plantations.
Ava-a-Safune is based at Matavai.