Farmers disagree over mandating use of Fagatogo Marketplace
Some local farmers have reiterated their call for the government and lawmakers to approve legislation that would ban the setting up of agriculture roadside stands, making it mandatory for all farmers to use the main Market Place in Fagatogo, a multi million dollar facility funded by the federal government.
Reupena Asiata is among the local farmers utilizing the Market Place daily, calling for such regulation or law to be implemented. He says that if all farmers use the Market Place, it will be easy for the local farmer’s association and the government to properly determine if farmers are able to meet local agriculture needs.
Additionally, it will also make it easy for the public to shop at one location for their agriculture needs, instead of farmers spreading out island-wide, said Asiata, a registered local farmer.
Other supporters of such a regulation say that all farmers selling produce should pay the $3 stall fee at the market place, and farmers selling their produce on roadside stands are not paying their fair share to the government.
Faresa Timani, a Tafuna farmer, says that it’s not fair for them to use the Market Place and pay the fee, while others are not. Timani claims that farmers using the Market Place are earning good money by setting up stalls at the Market Place.
Farmers are also concerned about the possibility that roadside stands are selling taro and bananas that have been imported from Samoa — competing with local farmers — and that selling everything at the market place will make is easy for Agriculture officials to monitor imports.
However, there are farmers who disagree with any regulation or law that would mandate selling produce at the Market Place only.
Luavasa Amituana’i — a Faleniu farmer — says it’s a person’s right to sell their produce on roadside stalls instead of the Market Place.
Amituana’i said he makes more money selling his produce from his roadside stand rather than at the Market Place, where there is too much competition. Another farmer, who didn’t want to be identified, says that every farmer needs to find a way to sell their produce and make a profit and should not be required to sell only at the Market Place.
Last year there were similar calls from farmers for lawmakers or the Togiola Administration to look at a law that would prohibit roadside agriculture stands, but that has gone nowhere.
Two veteran lawmakers said this week that it’s “very doubtful” that such a matter will be taken up in July, when the Fono convenes for its final session, because the main focus will be on the fiscal year 2013 budget and other pressing money issues.
[Samoan version of this story was published May 14, 2012]