Blogpost by Aulola Ake, Gender Mainstreaming Officer – Division Women’s Affairs Ministry of Internal Affairs, Tonga
In Samoa, off the shores of Apia, a beautiful melange of natural plant species spouting huge amounts of oxygen and refreshing air on a magnificent landscape awaits visitors. This attractive biodiversity is not only the work of nature; it was also achieved through agriculture. Floriculture is making its way as an established part of agriculture, and one that many women and smallholder families make a living from. Yet, it is not sufficiently recognised as a booster for tourism and trade in many agribusiness fora in the Pacific. The demand for floriculture products is real and increasing but many debates and discussions held around agriculture in the region often forget to value the activity.
Floriculture requires investments of time and money, and this can be a challenge for small-scale producers. Sharing knowledge on how to overcome difficulties around particular commodities in regional networks and platforms is often encouraged for agriculture in the Pacific Island countries. The second Agribusiness Forum held on 29th August -1st September 2016 in Apia, Samoa offered an opportunity for knowledge sharing around key thematics (climate change, agribusiness, youth and women, and protection of natural resources) and specific value chains, including floriculture. The event captured information around agritourism and opportunities to develop the potential of specific activities such as floriculture. For example, the case of Leaupepe Lasa Aiono, a farmer who built a flower catering company which supplies flowers to hotels and cafes was showcased. This platform enabled knowledge sharing that discussed the practice of floriculture in Samoa and the Pacific as an important economic activity.
The story of floriculture in Samoa
The Flower Growers Association (FGA), a network of women earning a living from selling plants and flowers leads the activity in Samoa. In 2011, the FGA became part of the Samoa Farmers Association (SFA). In 2014, SFA received a CTA funded handbook on floriculture, ‘Small-holder Flower Production in Fiji’ produced by South Sea Orchids Ltd (SSO) through a regional knowledge exchange platform initiated by Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network (PIFON) with the support of the Intra-ACP Pacific Agriculture Policy Project (PAPP) under the Pacific Community (SPC). The handbook provides details about cutting and plotting methods of various flowers found throughout the Pacific and offer advice and ways in which readers can start up a business in floriculture. The publication and a number of training offered by SFA and other stakeholders increased farmer’s knowledge on the activity. The regional exchange also benefits farmers as they build partnerships and linkages on producing and marketing flowers in the Pacific.
Aulola Ake, Social Reporter covering the ‘2nd Pacific Agribusiness Forum’ workshop in Apia, Samoa, on 29th August – 1st September 2016
The opinions in this piece are the author’s and do not represent those of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA).