In July 2017, Savai’i Coconut Farmers Association (SCFA) in Samoa were excited to launch their first Fairtrade Premium project, worth 9,500 NZD, supplying all 121 members with gardening tool kits. Members of the association now have much needed spades, bush knives and files, which will increase their productivity. Having these tool kits supplied was voted and agreed upon by the majority of SCFA members during their 2016 Annual General Meeting. The Fairtrade Premium was paid to the association by their local buyer, Krissy Co., who is working to increase the markets for Samoan coconut cream. This Premium project coincides with a replanting pilot project aimed at replacing aging coconut trees.
“The farmers are very happy with their new tools, they are able to maintain their land and use the tools to assist in coconut collection” says SCFA’s Secretary Perise Toala.
The replanting project aims to assist and plan for all members of SCFA to plant at least 50 coconut trees during the months of August and September. The new tool kits will be used to prepare the land for the planting. The seedlings are sourced from the farmers’ own gardens to begin with. Many of the coconut trees on the island of Savai’i are between 50 to 60 years old, resulting in lower productivity. However, when farmers see the value of coconut farming and the potential for a sustainable income through the Fairtrade minimum price, this allows them to stay and invest in their land.
“Before SCFA it was really hard for me to sell coconuts and make a living. I considered walking off my farm and finding a job in Apia. When I joined SCFA I was encouraged to go back to the farm, to replant trees and care for the land” says Siaki Ualesi, SCFA’s newly elected Chairperson.
SCFA began with only 16 members in 2012. Since then they have grown to 121 members from two sides of the Savai’i Island, working closely with their buyer Krissy Co. in order to meet the demand for Savai’i Popo coconut cream which is exported to Australia, New Zealand and American Samoa. In 2014 SCFA received tools, such as wheelbarrows, to assist in coconut collection. This project was funded through Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand’s Producer Development Fund, which is supported by New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). The new tools, recently purchased through the Fairtrade Premium project, add to each member’s existing tool kit and strongly support the sustainability of coconut farming on Savai’i.
Read more about coconut farmers in Savai’i here