Filipe Filihia is a Tongan farmer. He was involved in both the breadfruit and papaya farmer-to-farmer technical exchanges that were conducted through the MTCP2 programme. These exchanges opened his mind to the full possibilities of farming, improved his farming knowledge and changed his farming practices.
He first learnt how to grow papaya for export, and how to propagate breadfruit seedlings and prune breadfruit to picking height. He has gone on to learn about planting according to the season, for example, in Tonga you should plant your taro in November so that it gets plenty of water before the dry season sets in, and has learnt many other farming tips and techniques. Two years after being planted, his breadfruit orchard is now ready to bear fruit, which will provide another source of income, and he has started to make cassava chips from his own cassava, adding value to this basic root crop.
The other big change for Filipe has been that he is now considered one of Tonga’s lead farmers, and farmers look to him for advice. He has become an asset to his farmer organisation and they make use of his skills for training other farmers. Not only is training other farmers very satisfying for Filipe, it is a very effective way of transferring skills and knowledge, and the other farmers in Tonga are benefiting as a result.
Through the training he has received and the support of his farmer organisation, Filipe now grows about eight acres of cassava, two acres of taro, one acre of yams, three acres of corn, three acres of peanuts, 100 kava plants and 100 sandalwood trees, a lot more than he was five years ago. Many of these are new crops for him and provide additional income security for his family. In fact, his income has risen from around TOP 100/week in 2013 to around TOP 300/week today.
This additional income means that he can pay his children’s school fees and meet his obligations to family and church. Life in general has become more comfortable and he has bought a vehicle, which he can also pay for the fuel to run. His family is happier as a result, and this makes Filipe the Farmer even happier.