Over 40 youth Koko farmers are now better informed and aware of how weather and climate can influence and impact their Cocoa plants and farms following a two-week training workshop in Savaii. The Youth Koko Initiative is a program organised by the Samoa Chamber of Commerce and funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with the vision to support to youth koko farmers to excel in their farming capacities to support livelihoods.
In light of climate change and extreme weather events which have impacted our Pacific islands including Samoa, the Samoa Chamber of Commerce, UNDP, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and Samoa Meteorological Services (SMS) have joined forces to accelerate efforts in understanding weather, climate and climate change to inform planning and responding to weather and climate related hazards.
The inclusion of the Samoa National Meteorological Services in the Youth Koko Initiative programme is a significant move towards turning climate science to services that can be tailored to meet the needs of individuals and sectors.
Mr. Kotoni Faasau of the SMS informed the young farmers that “understanding the difference between weather, climate variability and climate change can help you as farmers, when you understand the information, you can plan better and prepare not just for this year but you plan ahead”.
This is the first time the SMS and SPREP have joined hands with the Samoa Chamber of Commerce and UNDP to include climate and weather information to raise awareness amongst the youth farmers on other useful sources of information that can be used.
Temukisa Tofilau a cocoa farmer herself applauded this initiative, saying, “I’ve learned so much on the importance of weather and climate patterns and how this information can help me with the pruning and managing of pest and diseases affecting my cocoa plants. I have also learned about the language and terms used by the Met Service in their bulletins, and I can now understand, follow and use the information produced by the Met Office”.
Her sentiments were echoed by other participants.
The Koko initiative will be extended to Upolu youth to replicate the success from Savaii workshops and sharing knowledge from across the country. SPREP is the secretariat to the Pacific Meteorological Council which supports the coordination and implementation of weather, climate and climate change science related initiative in the Pacific.