Niue’s Rising Star
Nephi Charity Poumale is a rising star, known amongst Niuean’s as the ‘organic farming kid’.
He takes orders on Facebook, his crops sell out fast at the Niue Island Organic Farmers Association night markets and people buy from his farm gate.
His does both, organic backyard gardening and owns a plantation.
He is 19 years old. The older organic farmers on Niue enjoy his enthusiasm as he seeks to know more from them, the younger ones look up to him.
‘I just want my family to eat good, clean food. That’s why I farm organically,’ he said.
‘I like it too because it does not destroy the land or cause it much harm.
‘This is my path in life.’
Nephi’s passion for farming makes him the youngest member of the Niue Island Organic Farmers Association.
Through the CTA Youth Leading Learning in Climate Resilient Value Chains Project and the IFAD CBRAPP, he learnt about e-marketing and organic farm production.
The rest, he gained on his own, reading, researching online and applying the knowledge.
He started when he was 17 years old and in high school.
‘I’ve been going to the farm all my life. One day I started growing my backyard garden and never looked back,’ he said.
‘I used compost, and planted bok choy and tomatoes. I sold them. I made money and got excited about making more. It was fun.’
Most of his peers, prefer technology more to the outdoors.
His passion earned him a job at the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forests right out of high school.
It was doing something he loved, raising plants, researching and looking after the department’s farm. There, he works with men, three times his age.
All the knowledge he gains, he takes home and applies in his garden.
It is the night before the night market. His crops are ready, all prepped and ready for the sale, taro, coconut baskets of vegetables, green coconuts. All that is left is the uga (coconut crabs).
He heads out hunting in the rock-faced cliffs of the ‘Rock of Polynesia’ for uga. He returns home just before the break of dawn, 20 uga in tow. Just one can sell for NZD 80. Together with his organic vegetables, he is sure to make a large profit.
‘I’m saving up for a motorcycle. There are things that I can buy now on my own. Even though I have a job, I make more money from just farming and selling uga,’ he said.
‘I’m not poor at all. We do not live in poverty. What I have is a sustainable income source.
‘If we all wake up as Pacific Island youths and make use of our inheritance, the one given by our forefathers, the land, we will be able to afford our lives, buy our needs and wants and live comfortably.
‘However, I guess I’m not one to be lazy. I enjoy the sweat and organic farming is making me appreciate working on the farm a bit more. I feel I am one with the land. I feel my ancestors are smiling down on me.’