SAMOA FAMILIES TURN TO INLAND AGRICULTURE

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Tsunami took away shoreline farming, fishing

APIA, Samoa (Newsline Samoa Newspaper, Oct. 22, 2009) - The tsunami waves which hit Aleipata and Falealili districts left widespread devastation and destruction to natural resources the villagers depend on.

Plans to revive plantations and natural growth destroyed in the September 29 tsunami will soon be underway now that post-tsunami assessments have reached its final stages.

Principal National Reserve Officer of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Talie Foliga disclosed to Newsline the different tree and plant species with the potential for regrowth and those which were completely destroyed.

The banana trees, which were popular on the coast, were mostly gone.

The few that were left, Talie says were barely standing.

"I also saw defoliation of breadfruit trees, guava fruit trees and even the Poumuli tree, which had about 20 – 30% surviving."

He says how anyone could witness this (defoliation), which is the dried up leaves, withered leaves or no leaves from the salty sea water.

"The crops suffered the most though.

The taros and taamus were completely uprooted and wiped out leaving no hope for them."

Shallow rooted plants, such as crops, had no chance of surviving the huge wave but there were more resistant trees which stood strong after the wave.

Talie says that from what he’s been told by some tsunami hit families, vegetable gardens and plantations were always planted nearby their homes to be accessible, and now, because of this, many families suffer the loss of these resources and so much more.

These gardens and plantations were relied on by families for subsistent and commercial living.

Despite the obliteration of these areas, Talie mentions that people have migrated to safer living grounds – inland, and that farming in these areas is not impossible and would be their best if not only option.

Focuses are now on assisting tsunami affected families in any way possible through advising or providing resources for farming on the inland and highlands.

"Also, we’re looking at propagating the tree and plant species which survived well during the tsunami and encourage the planting of such species."

He adds, "Research on the rare tree species is being looked at to multiply their numbers."

Saving these rare species, such as the Pani tree, is a fundamental project as only a small batch of about 10 trees were seen on Aleipata and some on Nuutele and Namua Islands.

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