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Samoa in SOE

It seems like Samoa has been in a State of Emergency for the last 6 months.  The measles epidemic in December 2019 brought the Small Island State to a standstill claiming the lives of more than 100 people, mostly innocents under 4 years of age.  A tragic and traumatic time during which Samoa received incredible support from volunteer medical teams from around the globe.  Although the initial response to the impending crisis was slow, the Government and citizens eventually pulled together.  All complied with a 2-day lock down where immunisation teams went door-to-door looking for red flags hung outside houses to signify where people needed to be immunised.  With help from international volunteers and persistent effort, Samoa managed to achieve a 95% immunisation coverage rate.  Let’s hope this level can be maintained into the future.

Not long afterwards, news of COVID-19 started to reach Samoa’s shores.  In late March 2020, Samoa declared a State of Emergency and closed borders.  By this measure, Samoa has been able to maintain a COVID-free status.  No cases of COVID-19 have been found in Samoa to date.  At the time of writing (June 2020), Samoa has started to allow a trickle of citizens stranded in New Zealand to return.  This is limited to 150 persons per fortnight and strict pre-travel and quarantine conditions prevail.  As would be expected, the tourism industry in Samoa has ground to a halt.  How many businesses can survive the catastrophic impact of COVID-19 remains to be seen.

Like other tourist holiday accommodation providers, Ifiele’ele has been without guests in 2020.  While in no way desirable, we try to see the positives in this situation and make the most of altered circumstances.  With Joan stuck in Australia, Paul has been extra busy on the plantation and with processing dried fruits.  Our value-added fruit products continue to be popular, especially the dehydrated fa’i, papaya and pineapple.  Paul has been selling these and fresh produce at the SWAG (Samoa Women in Agriculture) pop-up market held each Saturday morning in May.

Zac is a thirsty boy

The twins

Our dear goat Gita gave birth to twins on 26th April 2020.  Zac appeared not to be getting his share of mother’s milk so Paul has been bottle-feeding 3 times a day.  Happily, Zac has now caught up to his brother in size but possibly thinks that Paul is his mother.  Weaning has commenced and Zac is down to one bottle feed per day.  Check out the video (click on the title below).

So thirsty!!

With things slowly returning to normal after COVID-19, Ifiele’ele will be well-placed to offer visitors a wonderful holiday experience in Samoa when borders re-open or the Pacific Travel Bubble eventuates.  With it’s exclusive facilities and small number of guests at any one time, social distancing is not an issue at Ifiele’ele Plantation.  So keep us in mind for your next Pacific destination.  We will welcome you with open arms once we are receiving guests again.

Sun Dried Organic Bananas

Ifiele’ele Plantation now brings you sun dried organic bananas.  They are not only healthy, but also delicious!!  Great for an instant energy boost or a fuel source for endurance athletes.

Resurrected Solar Dryer

The re-design of Ifiele’ele’s solar dryer has meant we are now able to successfully dry fruit whenever we have an amount in excess of what we can consume before it deteriorates.  The dryer now has a glass top and is painted black inside with several air-vents along the front, lower edge and one higher up at each end.  This allows warm air to be sucked into the box through the low vents, rise through the shelves holding the peeled bananas, and be expelled through the higher vents at either end of the box.

Sun Dried Organic Bananas

Resurrected Solar Drier

 

 

 

The Process

The drying process is weather dependent and, with a succession of sunny days may take 3 to 5 days.  It can take longer in cooler weather.  The bananas are dipped in juice from Tahitian Limes or Maya Lemons, both grown at Ifiele’ele.

Sun Dried Organic Bananas

Bananas being dried by the power of the sun

The Product

The bananas turn brown and shrivel up as the moisture is extracted by the moving warm air circulating through the dryer.

Sun Dried Organic Bananas

The dried bananas with moisture extracted

 

 

The Finished Package

So far we have experimented with ‘Fa’i Palagi‘ and ‘Fa’i Misiluki‘.  ‘Fa’i‘ means ‘banana’ in Samoan.  ‘Palagi’ means ‘foreigner’.  Most Palagis living in Samoa love the Misiluki banana, but I personally prefer the Fa’i Palagi, especially when dried.  Packaged up in an environmentally friendly brown paper bag, the dried bananas will keep unrefrigerated for months or even years.  Most of the moisture has been extracted from the fruit so mould does not form.

Sun Dried Organic Bananas

Environmentally-friendly Gift Packs

I have actually been buying dried bananas in health food shops in Australia for years at quite an exorbitant price.  In fact, when I cycled from Melbourne to Perth nearly 30 years ago and sent food packages to myself for retrieval at various roadhouses along the Nullabour, it was the dried bananas that kept me going against ferocious headwinds and fatigue.  I am delighted to now be producing my own sun dried organic bananas and making great use of something that would otherwise go to waste.

Not only am I enjoying sun dried organic bananas but so are friends who visit Ifiele’ele Plantation.  They receive a packet to take home.  Guests also receive a complimentary packet.  I have given many packets to Samoan friends who, after initial surprise at the sweet taste, seem to like sun dried organic bananas.  My hidden agenda maybe to influence  Samoan’s food consumption in the direction of healthy alternatives!!