The Human Rights Protection Party

What is Good for Apia is also good for Savaii!
"O le mea e lelei i Apia, e lelei foi mo Savaii"

Jul 19

Cocoa, coffee projects fruiting

Koko Samoa

Cocoa is making a strong comeback on the back of a successful agro-forestry stimulus package government implemented three years ago.

According to Crops Assistant CEO Misa Konelio, there are now some 400 small-scale cocoa farmers across the country.

“We haven’t had much success with coffee though,” he said.

“Farmers are a bit hesitant to grow coffee because they are not sure of the markets. Plus they’re not used to coffee growing.

“Cocoa on the other hand has always been a mainstay in many villages. We now have about 400 small-scale farmers growing over 800 acres of cocoa in both Upolu and Savaii apart from the major cocoa growing companies.”

In 2010, government initiated an agro-forestry package targeting small farmers.

(L - R) Savali Editor, Tupuola Terry Tavita, Crops Assistant CEO Misa Konelio and Senior Officer, Fata Alo Fania

“The reality in the village today is that a household today comprises of a father and his son. So we targeted the small 2-acre farm growing a mix of cocoa, coffee, coconut and some other timber trees.

“The three-year project has been very successful and we are about to pay-out the final subsidy. It coincides with harvesting of the trees they plated back in 2010.

“We also know that the big cocoa farmers like Papu Vaai in Asau and Saena Penaia’s plantation at Lafi have been very successful in recent years. They have been exporting their own cocoa overseas to their manufacturers.”

Misa said his staff had just completed a survey of cocoa trees in Savai’i and have been encouraged by the results.

“The international price for top quality cocoa at the moment is $15 per kilo. That’s very good money. Samoa has perhaps the best, the most sought-after cocoa pods in the world. The Trinitario variety introduced by the Germans is regarded as the best in the world, sought after the big chocolate manufacturing companies.

“Not only is this variety growing well in both Upolu and Savaii, but we are very happy with the enthusiasm shown by the farmers in growing and maintaining their trees. We are also happy that they are getting rid of the inferior and very bitter Solomon cocoa (Anelanedo) variety in their properties. I’d say, only about 5 percent of the cocoa trees in the country now are Anelanedo and they (farmers) are getting rid of it.”

Arabica (Maragogipe)

COFFEE

Earlier this month, government hosted a group led by Australian senator John Williams. It was interested in setting up a 50-acre pilot farm to teach farmers how to grow coffee. The team included a coffee expert from France.

“We have been notified by the Deputy Prime Minister on this project and our staff is very enthusiatic about it,” said Misa.

“I believe a 50-acre plot at Aleisa has been earmarked for that project. I believe they have also secured a market for local coffee beans overseas. That is excellent news because the bigges drawback at the moment for local farmers is the lack of a viable market for coffee.”

Also introduced by the Germans back in the 19th century, the Arabica (Maragogipe) is a top premium coffee bean. It was rediscovered at several old German farms in recent years in a coffee project spearheaded by the Women in Business Development (WiBDI) group.

Misa said his station has already propagated thousands of Arabica seedlings and delivered it to interested farmers.

A recent survey, Misa said, indicates development of the rural farming community is beset by several problems.

“The major problem is a decline in the rural labour force. Many have moved into town or overseas and farming in the villages is hampered by a shortage of young people. The seasonal worker schemes with New Zealand and Australia does not help. Hopefully, these positive developments in cocoa and coffee will encourage more young people to stay in the village and get back into agriculture.”

Misa said, a unit at the Crops station has been assigned to concentrate exclusively on cocoa and coffee and research the potential of other potential crop trees.

Author: Tupuola Terry Tavita of Savali
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