Woman farmer pivots to tourism amid downturn
A woman farmer from Faleasiu struck upon a novel idea for overcoming the economic crash that followed the COVID-19-led pandemic: turning her farm into a tourist attraction.
For more than 20 years Fuatino Moli has provided for her family as an organic farmer. But since the COVID-19-led economic downturn, she has begun hosting tours around her farm for extra income.
Fuatino Moli is one of the Samoan women farmers who are to be featured in a “Growing with Mother Nature 2022” calendar soon to be launched this year.
The initiative is an opportunity to assist 12 farmers to improve their livelihoods, by raising activity and entrepreneurial activities on their farms.
Mrs. Moli told the Samoa Observer she now owns Fuatino’s edible garden at Faleasiu.
The mother of six is a vegetable, cocoa, and mixed crops farmer.
“I was in school and working at the same time but once I gave birth to my first child, I thought maybe it's best I stay home,” she told this newspaper.
She said she decided it was best to work together with her husband, also a farmer at the time.
“From that time until now, I can happily admit that everything we have so far is because of our plantation, such as affording to buy a car yet we did not own one before,” she said.
“That is why I am eager to share my knowledge and skills with others that are interested in farming.
“I have a business license which means I can conduct tours around my farm for those that are interested in learning.”
“The impact of COVID-19 on the tourism industry has affected our supply [for] hotels. That is why I thought: ‘Why not hold some tours?’”.
“So far, many youth groups, village committees including small businesses have visited my farm.
“For only one tour for $300 but only two hours a day the main thing most visitors want to know is how I do my work from seedlings.
“There are some farmers who are not keen on sharing but as for me, I do not want to hold onto these skills instead I want to help others who are in need of help.”
Mrs. Moli said that while there are benefits to farming, it is also a job that comes with its share of problems.
“There are many difficulties faced by a farmer such as you cannot have everything your way; there are times when you grow something it dies in a week which means you have to wait for months until the soil is settled.
“When there was no global pandemic we used to supply lettuce three times a week to some of the big hotels and that is equivalent to close to $3,000 or when we’re really busy that’s $4,000.
“But sometimes we would earn more than $2,000 overall in one day.”
She said that they do not employ any workers because her children, husband and herself tend to their farm. (She occasionally hires other people that just come to clear and cut the grass.)
“I believe that some hired workers are not honest plus paying them for their services is money lost plus I want my children to grow up and know the significance of the life of being a farmer,” she said.
“The skills and knowledge of being a farmer was passed down to me from my parents because our plantation put food on the table and paid for everything.
“I hope they will continue this tradition in years to come. I want to help mothers who are at home and without jobs to understand that they can look after their families and earn money by being a farmer
“Not only [do we make] money but we also have an abundance of food supply."