Savai'i fisherman praises M.A.F. equipment initiative

A Savaii fisherman is grateful to have received assistance from the Samoa Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity and Marketing (S.A.F.P.R.O.M) Project’s Matching Grants programme.

Tapunuu Lautaimi from Safua, who has been running his family’s 30-year-old fishing business for three years, says his business has been given a major boost as the recipient of the new equipment..

He also owns a taxi stand and a small retail store but his main focus is offshore fishing.

According to a Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (M.A.F) statement, Tapunuu said that his family is well-known for its fishing.

“All the resources I’ve been using were very old and I almost gave up because the old motor broke down due to a cyclone in 2014 which meant no fishing trip, no money for the fishing business or village and church expenses,” he said.

A month ago Tapunuu was able to purchase new equipment and materials in Upolu with the assistance of the Project’s Matching Grant Programme, totaling $21,000 which included a refrigerator, a new motor and materials for repairs as well as upgraded fishing gear.

According to the Ministry-issued statement, while the project supports a stronger and thriving fisheries industry, the S.A.F.P.R.O.M. Project is not only helping hundreds of fishers with funding to increase their productivity, but also includes investments in cold storage facilities to ensure good quality fish is sold to the general public as well as export potentials.

“If the fisher wants to access the export markets, then having good cooling facilities on board through on-board coolers and an on-shore refrigerator to store catch, helps maintain the quality of the fish for export," said the Assistant Chief Executive Officer of Fisheries, Magele Eteuat Ropeti.

"Having an upgrade to the vessel’s engine will also enable fishers to move further offshore diverting and reducing fishing pressures from inshore areas."

Tapunuu gave thanks to the Lord for his blessings through this project, saying that his words could not adequately express his gratitude to the Ministry.

He had applied last year to the project with a lot of questions, wondering if it the project would help him to repair his fishing boat, get a new motor as well as upgrade his equipment. 

Now he is heading back to Savai'i with those questions all answered and a big freezer, a 40 horse power Yamaha outboard motor, aluminum for repairing his boat and new fishing gear in tow. 

With business development support provided by S.A.F.P.R.O.M partners, Samoa Business Hub, earlier in the year, Tapunuu feels confident that he can run a more sustainable business and he hopes to inspire others in his community to pursue fishing as a business.

He attended a two-day training for developing a business plan which helped him think more about his fishing business, adding that he learnt a lot about running a business.

It was reported in May this year that the Ministry hopes that training for over 1,300 farmers and fishermen in Upolu and Savai’i will be completed by the end of the financial year.

The funding for the training comes courtesy of the World Bank-funded project and the International Fund for Agriculture Development.

Over 3,000 applications had been received by the Ministry since June 2020 with the signing of the matching grant disbursements done on 23 April this year.

Up to 1,305 participants have become eligible to receive equipment and tools.

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