Farming breakthroughs

By Vatapuia Maiava 14 April 2016, 12:00AM

Many people know the struggles of imported tomatoes costing an arm and a leg when there is a deficiency in locally grown ones.

But here is the good news.

Samoa is getting closer to solving the frequently asked question ‘why do we import vegetables when we can grow it ourselves?’ through a series of agricultural breakthroughs.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (M.A.F) through the Crops Division hosted an exhibition and seminar/workshop yesterday to showcase the results of the On-Farm research program under the Samoa Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Program (S.A.C.E.P).

Those who attended were members of the scientific community, farmers, buyers and other supply chain participants.

The 3 year research aimed to introduce a new variety of crops, finding improved production systems for important local crops, and to address a few farming issues.

 “One of the main aims was to find out new vegetables we could introduce to Samoa which could act as import substitutes,” said Misa Konelio the A.C.E.O of M.A.F

“We have now gotten vegetable products such as potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, large tomatoes and many more.

“With the introduction of ways to grow these commonly imported crops we will be spending less money bringing them into the country.”

The introduction of the new crops also has the added benefit of giving the local people better alternatives to improve their diets.

“Right now Samoa imports so many vegetable products but our work here proves that we don’t need that, we can easily grow our own white and red onions using our own soils,” Mr. Konelio said.

“There are no differences at all with the crops we will be producing and the ones from overseas, they are exactly the same.

“The only difference will be that the crops we produce are a lot fresher because it will come straight from the fields and into the kitchen.”

The project cost stood at an estimated SAT$5million but was deemed well worth it as the results exceeded many expectations.

Mr. Konelio also spoke on some of the improved farming methods they will introduce to Samoa.

“Some crops require a lot of rain while others need a lot of sun. The unpredictable weather in Samoa is one of the issues we aimed to address and we have found ways to still have efficient yields all year round,” he said.

“One of the ways we found to be useful is through the use of tunnel houses and irrigation systems to combat the issue of lack of rain for certain crops.”

The exhibition gave the opportunity to show targeted audiences what crops are now available to Samoa as well as teaching them how to produce it themselves.

By Vatapuia Maiava 14 April 2016, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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