Huge price drop for taro in Apia

Vaie’e, Safata resident Ene Sagala is one of dozens of farmers selling food at the markets and on the streets in Apia – but is also among those worried at a huge drop in prices.

Taro prices have plunged from what used to be $20 a bundle to just $5 tala.

“The reason why the price of talo has gone down is because there are so many farmers nowadays,” Mr. Sagala told Samoa Observer.

“Even business people have their own plantations, and it’s making it hard for me to sell my talo.”

The drop in prices comes at the same time as increases in electricity, bus and taxi fares are being considered.

“We don’t know where to go and what else we are supposed to do in order to sell our produce,” he said.

Government has long called for more people to get into farming, with Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi in 2012 famously dismissing those in poverty as being “lazy”, a claim reported by media worldwide.

Two years later, and it seems that many have responded to his challenge – with steadily reducing returns. Mr. Sagala, 54, said that low prices are making life difficult.

“I am a father of six children, they are all in school and this is the only way I earn income for me and my family.

“I would rather sell it cheap than spending the whole day out in the sun and rain, but by the end of the day nobody buys anything.

“I have ignored the fact that having a plantation is a lot of work, the planting of the talo, making sure that it is well looked after and not to mention, the waiting part of it.

“All of that I decided to ignore, because many buyers always ask for a discount and I can’t say no because I am tired of spending everyday out in the sun.

“These are the things that many people don’t know. We also have family to look after, not to mention church commitments, and for most of us here, selling talo is our only source of income. It is very hard sometimes. Mr. Sagala also mentions that he tried taking his talos to Nu’u to be weighed and sent overseas.

“But we could not, because the list is already filled up by business people.

“It’s really sad because farmers don’t know where else to go because business people have taken the opportunities as well.


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