WiBDi Takes Trading Online
Adimaimalaga Tafunai, the Executive Director of WiBDi says with the proper support, farmers can build the economy back IMAGE: WiBDi
For over twenty years, Women in Business Development Inc (WiBDi) has worked with farmers and artisans from around Samoa in ways that honour tradition, technology, and fair trade.
Today they work in 183 villages which for many families mean being able to send their children to school and pay utility bills.
Adimaimalaga Tafunai, the Executive Director of WiBDi says effects of the global pandemic is affecting communication networks as they look to improve existing distribution channels.
“As an NGO, the biggest impact is not being able to get to our farmers regularly and not being able to support them as we did with markets, and even more important as we have much preparation for the annual organic audit.”
She said: “The monthly organic night market has had to be cancelled so we are looking into having an online market with our App developers SkyEye using their Maua App and hopefully offer the opportunity to non-organic farmers as well.”
“We still expect to be able to send out an export shipment of oil, but other export products are affected due to the lockdown and staff not being able to travel from their villages.”
Tafunai believes the challenges are temporary.
“While we’re experiencing reduced sales and exports, agriculture should bounce back and with the proper support our farmers can build the economy back, but the tourism industry will need to be built up as well.”
She said: “There will still be opportunities for value adding and exporting if people were able to work together. They also need site visits and the motivation, especially around seedling supply and markets, we hear non farmers are returning to their farms during the lockdown and it’s welcoming news in these times.”
“We expect things will pick up once public transportation is available but there may be some food shortages because farmers are not working regularly on their farms due to many factors including reduced markets.”
“The hotels aren’t operating which means they are no longer buying produce so that takes away from farmers and may affect their ability or desire to work.”
Prior to the state of emergency declared by the government last month, Tafunai said WiBDi has been working closely with communities.
“We started translating information documents before our lockdown and have added the COVID 19 information to the climate change information we take to our farming families, but this has been slow since we have not been able to make the regular site visits especially on Upolu.”
“Our site visits continue on Savaii as we still need to produce dried tea products for a market in New Zealand.”
“We have our market for dried organically certified lady finger bananas in New Zealand, but this has been put on hold for now, and we would like to start this up as well as other value chain addition to other produce grown by our farmers, as there are export markets still available.”
She said: ”Governments and development partners must continue to support the work of farmers and farmer organisations because that’s when we produce our best results.”