Pacific Farmers Have Their Say: Conflicts May Rise Over Scarce Resources

April 2020

Farmers Need To Look Out For Each Other

SWAG’s Tapu Tuailemafua says impacts of COVID 19 is going to be drastic should the crisis extend IMAGE : Ms Sunshine Farms

Border closures, movement restrictions, and disruptions in the shipping and the aviation industries have made it harder to continue food production and transport goods.

It threatens to cut off supply chains completely and increase food insecurity.

“We’re having issues with our distribution channels which has also seen reduced sales,” Tapu Tuailemafua of the Samoa Women’s Association of Growers (SWAG) said in the Pacific Farmers Have Their Say survey recently conducted by the Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network.

“If the pandemic crisis extends, the effects are going to be drastic.”

“We have already a shortage of farm employees, it’s affecting our communication networks and for older farmers it’s hard to leave home because they’re at a higher risk of getting infected.”

The combined measures put in place by governments in response to COVID 19 may potentially cause more harm than the virus itself.

“Some of the biggest threats are unforeseen fights for scarce resources, and it’s only going to get more difficult with effects to yield, farmers, farm employees and logistics in addition to distrust shown by banks.”

“Fear has stopped people from going to markets and we’re expecting the recovery is going to be slow because these issues are interconnected and the main connector that holds them together is broken.”

While SWAG maintains communications and online trainings directed towards production, Tuailemafua said farmers needed more support from governments and development partners.

“There’s a need for relevant stimulus packages, financial assistance and a farmers bank in the region or on the island, while also increasing resources like seedlings and also utilising technology that can be accessed from the homes of our farmers.”

He said farmers needed to look out for each other in these uncertain circumstances.

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