Close to 40,000kg vegetables needed for Pacific Games

The 2019 Pacific Games will need 38,000 kilograms of vegetables to feed around 4000 athletes and guests in July, across a total of 114,700 meals.

The China-Samoa Agricultural Technical Aid Project (CSATAP) has estimated how many vegetables farmers should be growing in order to “feed the games” with less imported vegetables.

Jim Liu is the team leader and senior agronomist at CSATAP. He presented the team’s findings to a gathering of the Samoa Farmers Association (SFA) members last week, and urged them to prepare early.

He said the increased use of tunnel houses for growing vegetables has improved Samoa’s capacity for production large quantities of high quality vegetables.

“Some vegetables, like winter crops will still need to be imported, but it should not be a majority,” Mr Liu said.

Franki Farm, the Chinese Demonstration Farm, Lin Farm, J & F Farm, the CSATAP farm, Sarah Ah Hoy’s farm and Henry Betham’s farm have a total of 229 tunnel houses between them. 

Fourteen of the commercial farms in Samoa add up to 104 acres of well cultivated land, according to Mr Liu.

“The tunnel houses are very high yield,” Mr Liu said.

“I don’t know why some farmers are still not growing with tunnel houses. It is good money for smart farmers.”

Soon, decisions will be made by the Pacific Games committee as to who will cook and cater for the Pacific Games, and farmers were urged to think about supplying those caterers.

Mr Liu provided farmers with a form to fill out detailing which crops they are growing, so that gaps across Samoa can be identified, and filled.

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“Don’t try to grow everything, leave somethings to other farmers,” Mr Liu said.

The vegetable supply coordination will be handled by a Farm Products Supply Committee, established earlier this month. The committee includes commercial farmers, SFA and officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF). CSATAP will provide technical back up. 

To help farmers calculate how much they might supply, Mr Liu provided a chart of how much an acre of land yields in kilograms.

“A common problem in Samoa is farmers do not weigh their vegetables,” Mr Liu said.

“So you can calculate the weight yourself if you know how many acres you are growing on, or how big your tunnel house is.”

An acre of bok choy, for example, is 3000 kilograms, while an acre of eggplant yields 12,000 kilograms. The estimate guide also includes weight guides per vegetable, in case farmers are working in smaller plots than acres.

Mr Liu said there is a potential seedling shortage which could impact production. 

“But MAF are trying to allocate funds towards this and have said they will purchase and distribute all seeds needed for the games,” Mr Liu said.

“If you can, don’t wait for MAF, plant your own seedlings.”

To prepare, Mr Liu estimates Samoa needs 16.7 kilograms of seeds for the vegetables. The fruit supply is still being calculated. 

Farmers were given charts with recommended sowing dates for the 14 vegetables on the production plan list, for growing in a tunnel house. Open field growing require five to seven more days, Mr Liu said.

SFA operations manager Leaupepe Lasa Aiono said the dates were a good guide, but many farmers will have different varieties of vegetables which may require different amounts of time to grow.

The production list includes: bokchoy, Chinese cabbage, head cabbage, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, eggplant, long bean, spring onion, capsicum, watermelon, sweet corn, okra and pumpkin. 

The calculations are based on a daily individual’s needs for fruit and vegetable being 500 grams per day. 

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