Youth should return to the land: woman farmer

A local woman farmer has appealed to unemployed youth to return to the land and its resources instead of staying idle in their villages.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Tagaloa Anamaitu Penina Puni shared her story as one of the Samoan women farmers to be featured in the calendar.

She is from the villages of Fasitoo-tai and Samatau and is a cocoa and mixed crops farmer.

The mother of two also joined a group of Samoan women farmers who were featured in a “Growing with Mother Nature 2022” calendar. 

The initiative is an opportunity to assist 12 farmers, to improve their livelihoods, by raising the level of activity and creative entrepreneurship on their farms.

“I am grateful to Floris Niu for getting us together, she knew we had organic farms but to get us under this umbrella, I am thankful because I would have been a loner,” she said.

The 65-year-old added that she has a habit of never asking for help because she is an independent person.

“But now, I find it there is greater knowledge in learning in a group, in numbers we are more knowledgeable and you don’t feel like you’re alone in the world.

“Making new friends and fellowship with others that is my greatest gain being part of this group and the continuous learning.

“The care of the land, mother earth provides us with everything but if we are going to use a lot of pesticides [chemicals] we will deplete the nutrients that actually give us health and sustain us.”

Tagaloa told this newspaper that her upbringing always involved working the land.

“We also work the land that was instilled in us not only from my grandparents but also my parents because we grew up with cocoa and coconut farms.  

“I loved running around the cocoa trees and helping pick the cocoa but because of education I left Samoa at the age of 16, yet the passion has already been instilled in me.

“I missed Samoa very much and when my dad gave me the land in 2016 and I decided my retirement will be here.”

Her profession before becoming a farmer was as a psychiatric nurse.

“My children kept urging me to leave work and rest while they take care of me, at first I was undecided but I am thankful for their encouragement.

“The love for Samoa was always there and you feel that your identity is here. I never felt like overseas countries was my home, to me it was just a means for me and my children getting somewhere in life. 

“I came back for good in 2018 but I started my farm in 2017. I utilised the land, one are is cocoa and another for mixed crops and I use the old methods of farming and the organic side of it.”

She also said that her agricultural produce are sold locally.

“I am looking at our ancestors farmed in the past because not only they farmed with the seasons, the weather, the moon but I am still learning in that capacity of how our people used to do it. 

“I would love to see the young people of my village especially the girls and ladies who do not have jobs or income take up the passion of farming, I have seen some being idle. 

“If they cannot find jobs there is always the land to go back to at least they can do something for their families.” 

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