Falealupo's juicy oranges win praise

Mouth-watering oranges harvested from a single tree in Falealupo, Savai’i are being celebrated as part of the International Year of Plant Health.

A truckload of the citrus fruits was promoted on Facebook by the Samoa Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity and Marketing Project (S.A.F.P.R.O.M.) this week. 

“We're celebrating International Year of Plant Health with this zesty picture of good health and abundance – a truckload of delicious oranges harvested from just one tree in Falealupo, Savai’i ready to be shipped to Apia,” the organisation said on its Facebook page. 

“Plants account for 80 per cent of the world's food and protecting plant health can end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment and boost economic development.”

The oranges were photographed by Meaalofa Sulutolu, a businesswoman who runs a retail store in Falealupo with her husband. 

Approached for comment by the Samoa Observer, a modest Ms. Sulutolu declined to comment for International Year of Plant Health, saying she did not feel qualified to do so as she is not a farmer.

“We are business people, I run our retail store, my husband the plantation. I enjoy the fruits and yield from the land but don't have any expertise to warrant comment,” she said.

But her late grandmother Mesepa Lafaialii was a plantation developer who grew and exported copra and bananas. Her grandmother also grew oranges.

On her Facebook account, Ms. Sulutolu said the district where they live is renowned for their citrus.

“Our district, the Itu Asau Samoa is famous for its citrus.  My late grandmother Mesepa Lafaialii was a successful plantation developer growing and exporting copra and bananas. She also grew coffee and oranges,” she wrote. 

“Hubby calls needing the pick-up, can I come?  What a surprise to find this bounty waiting for me! Thank you Grandma. We still benefit from the fruits of your labor. Can you believe this was harvested from one tree!”

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (F.A.O.) designated 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (I.Y.P.H.) “a momentous opportunity to celebrate the benefits of healthy plants,” states the F.A.O. website. 

“Due to the postponement of some key initiatives caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the awareness raising year has now been extended until 1 July 2021, F.A.O. adds.

“By protecting plant health we are protecting the benefits plants provide to all of us… to wildlife, the environment and our economy. There are lots of events and activities taking place throughout the year, find out how you can get involved and help look after our plants and trees.”

Observer inquiries sent to F.A.O. did not immediately receive a response on Saturday.

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