Pacific Organic & Ethical Trade Community


Posted On: November 20, 2015

Lives are changing in Samoa. Before, communities lived in traditional homes without walls. Now, the vertical blanks are replaced by walled enclosures of brick and wood.
Kalais Jade called it ‘palagi’ homes.

“Crazy stories, I’ve seen people live in traditional homes, wall less, very, very simple and we’ve worked with them to set up income generating activities to build full palagi European houses and bought cars to transport their own coconuts and have like palagi toilet so yeah, the impact is big,” she excitedly related eyes shining.

A statuesque blonde, 26 year old Kalais could easily pass as a model. But she works with organic agriculture. She’s the programme manager for Women in Business Development Inc or WIBDI in Samoa overseeing organic certification for 600 farmers that grow coconuts, bananas and vegetables that they supply to WIBDI.


WIBDI expresses virgin coconut oil it then exports to the Body Shop in the United Kingdom and the vegetables are components of the hot selling organic baskets in Samoa. Sales of coco, citrus and tamanu soaps are off the charts! Organic banana chips are also exported to markets in Honolulu, Australia, American Samoa and New Zealand. They also produce tamanu or dilo oil (Calophyllum inophyllum) .

The business arrangement employs and channels income back into Samoan communities. A farmer is a family of eight to ten people. Easily 6,000 lives benefit from organic agriculture.

To secure niche markets, organic agriculture products need verification. The guarantee of organic is available through a certification system. Some export markets prefer third party certification standards.

WIBDI and her suppliers are certified organic through the National Association of Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA) third party certification system. NASAA is an accredited certification body that sends an inspector to Samoa on an annual basis to inspect WIBDI facilities, processes and suppliers.

It’s an expensive exercise billed at $30,000 Samoan Tala. For many farmers, it’s just too expensive. WIBDI considers itself lucky the Samoan government is subsidising this cost.

The bulk of the cost is in the inspectors travelling expenses. So having inspectors from the Pacific island countries region could significantly reduce these costs.

It’s why Jade applied to become trained as an organic inspector. The training was held in Nadi, Fiji recently with 17 participants from Vanuaut, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Palau and Fiji.

“I really see the benefit and value of having Pacific Islanders audit Pacific Islanders,” Jade asserted.

“WIBDI’s focus is on the whole family, never just the farmers, helping families get sustainable incomes.

“It’ why organics is very important in helping our farmers improve their standards of living and education through the better utilisation of their resources.

“We are so blessed in the Pacific because we have land and we have the ocean but what we need is better education on how to utilise that land and bring our people to sustainable forms of income through agriculture.

“Organics is a real solution and as the Pacific and the world increasingly values organic agriculture as a real solution for green economies, for climate change, we need to equip Pacific islanders with the knowledge and skills of organic farming.

“Training Pacific islanders to become organic inspectors also help our farmers to continue to competitively engage in the global organic market because the costs of third party certification become so much more affordable.”


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