Savai'i farmers happy with grant scheme
A total of 61 farmers and fishers on the big island of Savai'i have signed agreements opening the door for grant assistance to boost their productivity levels.
The signing of the Matching Grant Agreements were held at the Apita of Pisaga Hall last Friday and was witnessed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries officials.
The Ministry’s Chief Executive Officer, Tilafono David Hunter, described the signing as an important breakthrough in the progress of the Samoa Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity and Marketing Project after its signing in 2019 between the Samoa Government and key donor partners World Bank and the International Fund for Agriculture Development.
“When S.A.F.P.R.O.M. was officially signed, we received over 3,000 applications for the Matching Grant Programme (M.G.P.) from around the country,” Tilafono said in a statement.
“The large numbers of applications went through a comprehensive screening and verification process last year.
“Since then 1,305 farmers and fishers have been approved to receive assistance through the MGP to help boost their productivity and improve their access to markets.”
According to Tilafono, the momentum needs to be maintained which would lead to the development of the country’s agriculture and fisheries sectors.
“During these times of uncertainty we need to keep the momentum going with the development of agriculture and fisheries.
“We are very pleased to arrive at this milestone and realise this at the farmer and fisher level.
“At the same time we are continuing our work through the project to put in place the infrastructure to help continue and sustain increased production and productivity.”
M.A.F. Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ramona Stephanie Sulifoa, indicated that there were challenges along the way during the project’s implementation and the signing marks a new chapter for the project.
“There have been challenges along the way with managing over a thousand approved M.G.P. farmers and making sure they are compliant with all the projects requirements which is why reaching this milestone is so important and satisfying,” she said.
Dr Ramona explained that they are looking forward to seeing the next groups of farmers and fishers sign their grant agreements this year and work with them to ensure Samoa has enough food locally while increasing production to target the markets.
“In the meantime we continue to work with our remaining approved M.G.P. farmers and fishers undergoing mandatory training, to help push them towards the finish line,” she added.
Toleafoa Suafao Lewer of Puapua, who owns the largest poultry farm in Samoa, said he is pleased to work on extending his operation by utilising the S.A.F.P.R.O.M grant to get much needed wire fencing.
“I am very happy to come through this type of programme especially because they have explained to us how to run a sustainable business,” he said.
He said they have also provided them with record books which are going to help him to keep a record of all his incoming and outgoing expenses which he finds very useful.
A farmer from Fusi, Fugalaau Kuini was one of the 61 farmers to sign the agreement and gave her thanks to the Ministry for the opportunity.