Choosing Organic Farming for Brighter FutureMay 1, 2017
Mr. Iese Palauni Matai’a, recently graduated from a three months training - the Organic Warriors Academy - where he learned about composting, field planting, common pests and value-adding processing. With his new skills in organic farming, Mr. Matai´a now plans to focus on planting herbs and spices to supply hotels and restaurants in Apia.
“I’m conscious about the harm that agricultural chemicals and pesticides can cause to the environment and to our health. That is why I am planning to use natural methods to grow crops. What I have learned at the Organic Warriors Academy will help me earn money for my family and the church. I believe that this is a very good training as it contributes to the national economy by expanding the income opportunities for Samoan youth” – said Mr. Matai’a.
The training implemented by the Samoa Women in Business Development Inc. (WIBDI) with funding from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is part of the Samoa One-UN Youth Employment Programme (YEP) managed by the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD). It focuses on organic farming practices, but also incorporates units on business planning and budgeting, so that every student graduates with a business plan already prepared.
Alberta Vitale, Associate Director at WIBDI, explains that they developed the “Organic Warriors Academy” aimed at equipping unemployed youth with the knowledge and skills to cultivate their land into a profitable business. “As more and more youth search for employment in the city centre over working their land, WIBDI believes it is important to reinstate the value of sustainable farming to support livelihoods” – she said.
Over the last four years WIBDI received approximately USD $450,000 from UNDP to cover the costs of both the equipment for processing organic produce and the training for young farmers.
Up to date, more than 100 students have attended the training and successfully graduated from the Academy. Many of them moved on to work for Women in Business, and others are starting the organic certification process so that they can enter the Farm-to-Table supply chain.
Ms. Vitale reports that since The Academy was moved to the village there has been more success with parents and children participating and learning together with the youth during a weeklong intensive programme: “The Organic Warriors Training gives youth a new skill set and a sense of hope. Training after training we have seen many students gaining self-esteem, we have witnessed their love for learning and their willingness to work hard to be able to improve the situation of their families and their communities.”
WIBDI’s Organic Warrior Academy is only one of the channels for creating more employment opportunities for Samoan youth. Through the Samoa One – UN Youth Employment Programme, the Government of Samoa, the United Nations, the private sector and the civil society are working together to create better and more sustainable job opportunities for young people in different industries.