SFA conducted three days training during 29th September to 1st October on commercial papaya production under the IFAD supported Medium Term Cooperation Project (MTCP2) for Asia and the Pacific farmer organizations.
Livai Tora, a farmer and papaya specialist from the Sabeto Organic Producers Association (SOPA) in Fiji was brought in under the Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network (PIFON) “farmer to farmer exchange programme” to conduct the training.
A selected number of smallholder farmers, ministry representatives as well as participants from institutions with interests in farming were invited. The latter group included Samoa Trust Estates Corporation (STEC), Soil Health Pacific Ltd, the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (SROS) and Women in Business Development Incorporated (WIBDI). Two trainees from LionFish Ltd and South Pacific Plantation Management Ltd with farming interests on Malekula island in Vanuatu also attended. Charlie Westerland’s farm at Tanumapua was used as one of the training venues to demonstrate the potential of commercial farming in Samoa.
Samoa has a growing demand for quality papaya from the tourism industry and from urban consumers. The main objective of the programme is to increase production of quality papaya to meet this demand through adoption by farmers of improved agronomic and post harvest handling practices, and use of superior planting material.
SFA plans to start with a small core of commercially minded producers and then progressively increase the number of growers engaged in commercial papaya production. Follow-up visits and training to work with farmers during the next phases of the papaya growing cycle form part of the programme.
The training was the first conducted by SFA under PIFON’s “farmer to farmer exchange” programme. It will be followed shortly by similar exchanges and training in floriculture and in pineapple production.