Savai'i farmers, fishers benefit from grants

Some 61 farmers and fishers from Savai'i have benefitted from matching grants helping them to acquire hardware goods and supplies.

The matching grants are provided by the Samoa Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity and Marketing Project (S.A.F.P.R.O.M.) Matching Grants Programme. 

The funding is available to eligible farmers for the purchase of new and innovative equipment (such as wire fencing, chainsaws and safety gear) to save time and money and boost productivity.

A signing agreement for the programme and the Government of Samoa and its key donor partners the World Bank and the International Fund for Agriculture Development took place in 2019.

Completing the disbursements of the grants took five days.

The work was led by a team from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries who co-coordinated each farmer and fisher's purchase orders at Salelologa hardware stores.

One of the programme recipients, Faalii Peseta, of Matavai Safune who farms cattle was able to purchase equipment such as shovels, stable nails, wire-strainer and safety gear on the first-day of disbursements. 

The 33-year-old said he grew up in a farming family and now he and his brother are responsible for looking after the cattle farm. 

Mr. Peseta said he wants to extend his cattle farm and make it into a viable business to support the family. 

“I’ve grown up around farming all my life and now it’s our turn to look after our family cattle farm,” he said.

He said that since the start of the global pandemic he began to look at farming more seriously for both economic and food security reasons. 

“My plan is to become a cattle multiplier and a business man in Savai'i,” said Faalii.

“Praise God that we are able to come here and collect our hardware tools and equipment from this project through the agriculture Ministry. 

“We didn’t expect that we can get this kind of help so I want to thank the Ministry because this will go a long way in helping to develop my farm so we are really grateful for this project."

The programme manager, Auimatagi Luaiufi Aiono, says despite many delays and setbacks in rolling out the grants they were thankful to different stakeholders for their collaborative efforts in the face of the pandemic-led challenges. 

“With the ripple effects of COVID-19 worldwide, everything has been affected,” he said in a statement issued by the Ministry. 

“The emphasis and demand on the agriculture and fisheries sector locally in terms of food supply could not be stressed enough.

“Therefore, providing intervention through direct assistance to the farmers and fishers (and in a timely manner) is crucial.”

He said processing over 3000 applications within a year before going through registrations, verifications and training was a massive undertaking but it is a testament to the persistence and commitment from those involved. 

So far over 300 approved farmers and fishers from Savai'i have completed their training and were waiting for the approval of their business plans before moving onto formalising grant agreements. 

Auimatagi said their priority was to focus on the remaining training and business development for the eligible applicants in Upolu:

“Support will now be concentrated in terms of monitoring and evaluation and the technical training."

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