Vaele humbled by ministerial appointment

Getting appointed as the Associate Minister for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is a "dream come true" for the Gagaifomauga No. 2 Member.

Vaele Iona Pa'ia'aua-Sekuini was among the fourteen Associate Ministers who took their oaths on Tuesday morning. 

He will be working alongside the Chairman of Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party who is also the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and M.P. for Gagaifomauga No.3., La'auli Leuatea Schmidt. 

In an interview with the Samoa Observer on Tuesday afternoon, Vaele said he was "overwhelmed with joy." 

He said becoming the voice of his constituency in parliament was the main reason why he took up the challenge to contest in this year's general election. 

However, as a farmer and businessman, being chosen as an Associate Minister for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is the icing on the cake. 

"I am thankful," Vaele said. "All I can say is that this is very humbling for me and I am grateful to God for using and choosing me for this role. 

"Initially, the goal was to become the representative of our constituency. But to be chosen as an Associate Minister, especially in the Agricultural sector, is like a dream come true.

"I feel like God has truly placed me right where I am needed and this is one area I am passionate about, especially being a farmer from Savai'i. 

"I understand the challenges and the needs of our farmers, especially in the rural area and in Savai'i. So I am happy and excited to work with Honorable La'auli to lead the Ministry for this parliamentary term."

Vaele expressed his gratitude to his constituency for placing their trust in him to be their representative for the next five years. 

"If it weren't for them, I would not have been in this position, so I would like to thank them from the opportunity. 

"No words can express how grateful I am for the honor they have bestowed upon me and trusting me to represent them in parliament for the next five years. 

"I will do my best to serve not only my constituency but also the country of Samoa."

The 57-year-old farmer and businessman unseated the former M.P. and Associate Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, So'oalo Feo Mene.

Va'ele and his wife, Matimaivasa, had lived in Upolu for many years for work and study. But the father-of-five moved back to Savai'i a few years ago to develop his family land at Matavai, Safune and look after his father and family.

Moving back to Savai'i where he was born and raised, he said it gave him a clear picture of the struggles and difficulties families in the rural areas face on a daily basis.

He said this opened his eyes to the needs and wants of the people of his constituency, especially the farmers. 

And having experienced the struggles the farmers in Savai'i go through while living in Savai'i, Va'ele said he will focus mainly on areas to make sure that the farmers on island are encouraged to develop their plantations by providing them with the right equipment and utilising what is available.

"Coming back to Savai'i after residing in Upolu for some time, I realised that there are a lot of issues and difficulties faced by average families within the rural communities and constituency," the new M.P. said. 

"I discovered that there are a lot of gaps that need to be filled in terms of development.   

"There are areas that need improvements for the welfare and livelihood of the people living in our rural communities."

Aside from running a retail store at Matavai, Va'ele started a plantation to help out with the development of his family.

Va'ele said his constituents depend on agriculture and fisheries for their food and income but a lack of outlets was limiting families' ability to succeed in retail. 

"For this part of the island, people depend heavily on the land and sea for food and income. This is probably one of the many constituencies who have been blessed with good lands in Samoa," he said. 

 "When I moved back (to Savai'i), I started my own plantation and I discovered that there is a lot of wealth hidden there in our soil.

 "But there are quite a few obstacles that are discouraging our people from working the land. For example, almost every household owns a plantation.

"So the chances of families earning money from selling taro or banana on the side of the roads are very low.

"There are not enough markets for them to sell their crops and earn income to further develop their families. Nevertheless, the distance from the town and the main market is another problem.

"The access roads to the plantation is another major problem that is discouraging our people to keep working on the land."

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