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Pioneer in American Samoa

Sosene Asifoa is a farmer on the island of Tutuila in American Samoa. He raises pigs and grows vegetables such as dryland taro, cucumbers, tomatoes and cabbage. He’s also a regular supplier of top soil to the American Samoa Community College Land Grant Extension Service for their greenhouse operations.

For years, Asifoa had been using vetiver grass to control erosion on his steep cropland fields, which are typical in American Samoa. In 2009, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service gave him funding to continue planting and propagating this grass around his 10.4-acre property. He even helped the American Samoa Soil and Water Conservation District propagate the vetiver for other farmers to use. Such vegetative barriers have since become one of the standards for controlling erosion in steep farming situations in American Samoa.

Asifoa also received funding to construct new dry-litter piggery facilities. He typically has 80–100 pigs at any given time and, prior to building these facilities, he washed manure out of the pigs’ stalls, causing a runoff of nutrients into nearby streams and ponds.

Asifoa’s dry-litter system has a composting bin that reduces waste-filled runoff from his farm. NRCS photo by Nicholas Saumweber.

Asifoa’s dry-litter system has a composting bin that reduces waste-filled runoff from his farm. NRCS photo by Nicholas Saumweber.

In dry-litter systems, instead of being washed away, the waste from the pigs is mixed with woodchips and collected in a waste alley. The waste alley is cleared as needed and the manure and woodchip mix is placed in a composting bin. After about two months, a nutrient-rich and pathogen- and bacteria-free compost is ready for use on Asifoa’s taro crop.

Pigs play an important cultural and financial role in American Samoa. Because there are few native mammals and little space to raise larger animals, pigs tend to be the protein of choice for many on the Samoan islands. Asifoa sells his pigs to church groups and individuals for personal consumption and sells his vegetables to area markets and to the school lunch program.

Thanks to NRCS’ help, Asifoa’s pigs are healthier and he has a reputation for using good operating practices and is turning a larger profit and his farm is now in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency regulations. He’s also started a business selling excess compost to local farmers for use on their crops.

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Sosene Asifoa is a small farmer on the island of Tutuila in American Samoa. His operation is highly diversified and includes both crops and animal production. NRCS photo by Nicholas Saumweber.

Sosene Asifoa is a small farmer on the island of Tutuila in American Samoa. His operation is highly diversified and includes both crops and animal production. NRCS photo by Nicholas Saumweber.

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