Farmers return to Savai’i with new tools

Twenty-three farmers from Savai'i are returning home with a wealth of new knowledge on how to plant crops to ensure food security and better nurture the soil they depend on to grow food.

The farmers also received certification in Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change and Building Resilience (P.A.C.R.E.S.) on Wednesday at the University of South Pacific (U.S.P.) campus in Alafua.

Sani Liaga, from Safa’i. told the Samoa Observer she was happy to be a part of the training.

“I’m happy because I learned a lot of new things here," she said. "So many different methods of planting. It really increased my knowledge in the area of farming and planting our food like green beans, cucumbers and other vegetables.

“At the moment, I plant cucumbers, tomatoes and eggplant so I am grateful for the opportunity to learn about how we can plant others crops in order to feed out families and the country.”

Sani and her cohorts grew a variety of different crops like ufi (yams), umala (sweet potatoes) and taro as they learned new farming techniques. She learned that the leaves of the gatae tree contain minerals that make great compost that nurtures the soil.

“We should plant gatae trees. When the gatae leaves fall, there are minerals in the leaves that make great compost. The leaves grow, they fall and it is recycled back into the tree and the soil,” she said.

“So we should plant the gatae tree because the leaves have good minerals that make good food for the plants that we eat.”

Liaga said she is proud to have completed the training.

“Right now, I just go to the dirt and I dig it up and then I plant but now I should work the soil until it’s soft and ready to plant.  I know how to space the plants properly now,” she added.

In the training, she also learned how to maximize the land with multi-layer farming. There are seven people in her family and most of what she plants is for food not for the market.

“I learned a lot of new things and I look forward to going back to my village to put them to use,” said Liaga.

“What I plant is mainly for food but if there is a lot then I sell it...I am thankful to our trainers and for this opportunity, for everything and a special thank you to U.S.P for hosting us. I thank everyone who was involved in the training.”

The youngest member of the cohort was, AJ Peseta, 19, of Vaipouli.

“This training has been so useful for us. We learned a lot of new methods of planting,” he said.

Taro is the main crop Peseta grows but he also farms cucumbers, tomatoes and eggplant.

“For example, when planting tiapula, we learned how to make improvements to the soil. We plant taro but in between we plant gatae because the minerals in the gatae leaves are good for the soil,” he said.

“So when you grow your tiapula, it helps the plant to thrive. I also learned about ufi. I just learned here that you plant the leaves of the ufi...I don’t plant what I grow. It is to feed my was such a great training and this is my first time here at U.S.P.”

Peseta thanked their instructors, coordinators and U.S.P. for the opportunity.

Fifteen men and eight women, all farmers from Savai’i, took part in the pilot programme.

If successful, the training will be expanded to other villages. The group left for Savai'i on Wednesday.

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