A farmer from Faleaseela, Lefaga who has felt the drastic drop in revenue since the coronavirus state of emergency in Samoa says she needs subsidies for basic farming equipment and tools as well supplies, to ensure the sustainability of their family’s taro plantation during the lockdown period.
Lesina used to export taro, and earn $50 tala per box, or up to $6,000 tala for every shipment. Her daily sales at the Savalalo market complimented the sporadic export market, with sales between $1,00 and up to $2,000 tala per day.
Since the lockdown and limited opening hours at Savalalo, she and her family have had to operate their farm with daily takings of $200 tala on a good day, a 90% drop in sales which has also been the case for other local farmers and stall owners at the Savalalo market.
“O le taimi lenei a maua a se faatau pe na o le lima ni tautalo e alu i le aso, tusa ma le $200 tala e maua i le taimi nei”.
Lesina says she is not aware of the government’s stimulus package where $3.5 million has been budgeted for the Ministry of Agriculture ‘to raise local produce’.
As a farmer, Lesina says the main concern at this time is to ensure the plantation is able to continue. She says all they need is support for basic farming tools, equipment and supplies such as pesticide so they can continue to work their plantations.
She says they also need government to reconsider the opening hours at the market, so that buyers are able to shop at Savalalo before they head home.
“Closure at 4pm does not allow people time to come by and buy from us after work”, she says.
She said an extra 2 hours, to 6pm would make a difference to them.
“Na pau a le tulaga ta te manao ai pe a maua se fesoasoani mai le Malo o ni vailaau e faaoga i le faatoaga ma ni mea faigaluega; ae talosaga atu lava, pe a pe’a toe tuu atu le taimi tatala o le maketi mo matou i le 6 i le taeao – agai i le 6 i le afiafi”.
The government’s $66.3 million tala stimulus package announced in parliament yesterday allocates $3.5million to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries with the intention that, “local agricultural and fishing developments will be intensified to support food security”.
“A portion of this assistance has been allocated for equipments and consumables required by the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa in the commercialization of some of our local value added agricultural processes like breadfruit flour, coconut oil, avocado margarine and others to substitute imports”.