Apia, Samoa –Thirty-one Youth Koko farmers completed a two-day internship last week that was implemented by Samoa Chamber of Commerce and United Nations Development Programme - UNDP under the #CPRDESS Project, funded by the Embassy of Japan in Samoa.

The Youth Koko phase 3 internship was designed for selected youth farmers to experience practical work related to Koko farming with two of biggest Koko exporters in Samoa- Alo Kolone Vaai and Tupai Saleimoa Vaai. The internship gave an opportunity to participants for career exploration in Koko farming and development, and to learn new skills.

In the two-day internship the total of 31 participants including 14 female farmers were able to engage with Commercial Koko famers. Tupai Saleimoa stated that “For me I enjoy working with the youth because they are the future of Samoa, its very hard to determine whether any youth has the motivation but if we don’t do anything then these kids won’t have any direction. In terms of the Youth Initiative project I love it, I enjoy talking and sharing my experience about Koko, its what has been engrained in our family. If I can go away from any project and I have inspired at least 2 or 3 people then that’s a big achievement for me. Having 14 females participate in this workshop was extremely great to have. The women play a very important role in the Koko industry as they are the ones that encourages the kids to be more involved. The number of women through this project has shown great enthusiasm in farming. We have to change the perception of the kids, for so long the generation of Samoans have pushed our kids to get office jobs, but the truth is there isn’t enough office jobs so we got to put more role models out there in terms of farming. I always encourage Koko because it is a long-term crop and I am a product of four generations of Koko growers so I’m still reaping the fruits of my father’s grandfather and were still reaping the benefits from it and it is the reason why I advocate Koko so much. Agriculture as a whole is a great future we just need more role models to showcase this- it is hard work but long while it’s worth it. From this internship, I hope these kids go back to their farms and put what was learnt into use. Once these kids hold the fruits of their Labour they would know the worth of it all.”

Richard Annandale a 25 year old male working on his new 25 acres of Koko land in Alesia expressed after his internship his gratitude to the programs implementing parties. “I have participated in all the phases of the Youth Koko Initiative from the beginning but the internship was an eye catching one for me, to just be able to be on a well-established farm and observe equipment’s and materials used for exporting of Koko. The knowledge and skills I learnt from previous workshops in this particular program I was able to put into action in Savaii. Being able to work on two of the largest commercial Koko farms in Samoa was a great opportunity that was given to me. From this internship I was able to gain new knowledge, experience being on well-established farms and new friendships. The learnings from this I will take back and put into use at my own farm and hopingly become a well-established Koko exported someday soon. I thank the Chamber of Commerce and the UNDP for giving me this opportunity.”

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