Dr Roland Bourdeix visited Samoa from 5 to 27 November 2018. The first week was be devoted to the meeting "Saving Pacific Coconuts: Darwin Initiative workshop", and the remaining to CIDP expertise and some other activities. Terms of reference are as follow:

1. Prepare a training package, covering, for organic and conventional systems:
  • a. Mother palm selections, nursery management and establishments of nurseries
  • b. Farming systems (including agro-forestry) technologies as a means of optimising land use, enhance multi-cropping
2. Design and implement public private seed supply systems (materials/inputs provided outside of this contract)

3. Implement a regional train the trainers workshop (logistics for workshop provided by SPC outside of this contract). This workshop will be organized in Fiji during the second trip of the expert, and samoan dedicated stakeholders will be invited to participate.

Details are given hereunder.
In another of our website, information was already released about Coconut palms of Samoa.

1. Prepare a training package for organic and conventional systems

Mother palms and seednut selection have two complementary aspects: traditional Polynesian methods and  modern scientific methods.
Regarding traditional Polynesian methods, Some Samoan farmers have been surveyed to compare what they do with the traditional practices already recorded from French Polynesia. The survey showed that Samoan farmers do not use the same classification than previously observed in French Polynesia, and that most of them do not have botanical knowledge about the mode of reproduction of the coconut palm: most of them do not know for instance, that the coconut inflorescence have both male and female flower. A small experiment was conducted in the nursery of Nuu Research station about the criteria use by Tahitians for selecting seednuts on the way they sprout. It seems to indicate that this criteria is not efficient in the case of Samoan Tall Variety.

Regarding seedbednursery, planting techniquesintercropping and organic management, the expert have compare its recommendations with the present practices of Samoan farmers and scientists. For nursery and planting techniques, expert recommandations are be based mainly on CIRAD experience. For intercropping, a review of litterature from principally PNG, Côte d'Ivoire and India will be proposed. For organic management, experiences conducted mainly in India and the Philippines will be compared with present practices in the Pacific region.
For scientific methods, the expert have compared international recommendations, its own recommendations and the present practices of Samoan farmers and scientist.
The way to increase the autonomy of farmers for producing good planting material (Hybrid, Tall and Dwarf) will be discussed.

4. Design and implement public private seed supply systems

Due to its small size, the authenticity of its Polynesian culture and its quite complex social organization, Samoa seems to be an appropriate place to test the most advanced methods of multifunctional landscape management. The expert will have to discuss with The Ministry of Agriculture and FisheriesThe Ministry of Police, The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Samoa Tourism Authority to promote multifunctional landscape management methods wich integrate coconut conservation and seednut production to other social activities.

The expert will launch the preparation of a national/regional coconut varietal contest, in order to identify the stakeholders who knows the best varieties and who could be interested in marketing seednuts. He will interact with the organizations who could be involved in this preparation, such as the Samoan farmers association, the Samoa Federated Farmers Incorporated (S.F.F.I), Women in Business Development Inc, N.U.S Media and Journalism SchoolThis will also include a visit to the National museum of Samoa who should  keep for display the most extraordinary coconuts from the contest.

Note on present status of coconut cultivation in Samoa

In Savaii according to MAF, 20 to 30% of the Savaii are not harvested; according to other stakeholders (Savai’i coconut growers association), it could be as high as 40%. Reasons are as follow: 1) Price offered remains not enough according the work (small growers have often only 0.25 Tala per coconut). 2) Lack of labourers: young generation move to Apia or overseas and do not stay in the farms. Only old people often remains in the farms.

Toward a new coconut genebank in Samoa

Side activities

In Samoa, two small islands started in 2012 to be designed for a double objective: 1) conserve the niu afa and red dwarf varieties and 2) produce both Hybrid, Tall and Dwarf seednuts for farmers. The first objective was well reached, as many niu afa and red dwarf are planted on these island, and it is expected that they remains available for the next 30 years. But the second objective (seednut production) was not attained, because all the old Tall palms where not removed, so the seednuts presently produced by those islands are not true to type. Hereunder are the task to be achieved.

Polymotu design in Nuusafe’e
Visit the Nuusafe’e Island who started to be designed as a coconut sanctuary or traditional seed garden for the niu afa variety, and interact with the people who seems to dispute the ownership of the islandIn an area of 1.7 hectares, Nu’usafe’e island had about 350 adult coconut palms and 12,000 coconut seedlings invading the islands. in 2012, The team removed all coconut seedlings and about a third of the senile coconut palms. The job was not finished, because we did not removed all the unproductive ancient Tall palms, and, may be, there is need to plant some more niu afa after the last cyclone. So we must find a way to finish the job. 
Even if people does not agree about the ownership of the island, they are Polynesians proud of their traditions, and they should agree on the following points:
  • Whatever will happen, coconut palms will continue to grow on Nuusafe’e as on other similar islands.
  • The fact to plant the niu afa variety using a traditional ancient practice increases the patrimonial value of the island.
  • So even if the opponents disagree on the ownership of the island. they should agree that this multifunctional landscape management would benefit all Samoans, including the future winner.

Interact with the owner of the resort located in Namu’a Island. Namu’a started to be designed as a coconut sanctuary, but the job was not finished, as all the old unproductive palm were not replaced by the Niu afa variety. Eco-tourism links interestingly with the implementation of the polymotu concept. Both Namu'a (also called Anamu’a) and Nu’usafe’e islands were landscaped with these coconuts and fruit trees since both islands are regularly visited by tourists. Niu afa nurseries sould be created on these islands with the idea of each tourist planting and naming the coconut seedling after her/himself thus encouraging them to revisit the islands.

Visit the Nu’utele Island and try to convince stakeholder to turn it as a coconut sanctuary and seed garden producing both Tall, Hybrids and Dwarf varieties. On Nu’utele Island, an attractive coconut variety with large green round fruits was discovered; in 2013, the team’s recommendation was to protect and conserve this variety, to remove the other kinds of coconut palms and to plant some additional red dwarf varieties. Ecological measurements and scientific studies are conducted here, so their is a need to interact with the scientist involved in this study and the ministry of environment. The Polymotu project has generated a new crucial approach regarding the environmental management of the numerous small islands existing in the Pacific region. Many of these small islands were inhabited a century ago, but then people migrated to the mainland. The management of these islands was then reduced and the vegetation evolved without control. Even if some of these islands look now “wild”, they are not. They result from the progressive degradation of cultivated ecosystems. In many small islands, some of the useful plants brought by islanders became invasive: for instance some of the coconut palms in Nu’usafe’e and Fau (Hibiscus tiliaeus) in Fanuatapu. These islands should not be managed anymore as “wild” locations. Some local plant species should be favored; some other species should be controlled and sometimes removed from these islands.

If possible, visit again Apolima island and try to convince local people to be involved in coconut conservation and seednut production. Apolima is the smallest of the four inhabited islands of Samoa and situated in the Apolima Strait, between the countrys two largest islands Upolu to the east and Savaii to the west. The island has one settlement, Apolima Tai with a population of bout 100. It is a less than one square kilometer in size. It seems that Apolima has a great symbolic importance as the geographic heart and center of Samoa and because people live there according to the purest Polynesian tradition. Its geographical isolation is perfectly suitable for coconut seed production.

Farmers and coconut associations in Samoa

Media in Samoa