Oct. 30, 2018 (Bangkok, Thailand) – Samson Mahit Haiton, a farmer from Vanuatu, traveled to Bangkok recently as one of five recipients of the Model Farmer Award presented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

As countries around the world, including Vanuatu, wrapped up a week of observances in relation to World Food Day, FAO in the Asia-Pacific region convened a special ceremony to mark the achievements of farmers, fishers and pastoralists and their innovative work to feed an increasingly hungry world.

The five recipients – three women and two men – traveled to Bangkok from Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Maldives, Thailand and Vanuatu. The Model Farmer Awards are an annual fixture of FAO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. FAO member countries in the region are approached on a rotational basis to participate in the event and their governments propose the individual candidates to receive the awards.

Vanuatu’s recipient, Samson Mahit Haiton is, most likely, the first winner of a Model Farmer Award who has been farming full-time for less than one year. In that sense, Samson has proved that making a lasting impact needn’t take a long time.

Three years ago, Samson’s older brother asked him for help to invest in a 1.5-hectare pineapple farm in in the capital of Port Vila and his village of Tetali. After a while Samson took over running the farm.

Samson grew enough pineapples and vegetables to feed his family and he gives some of his pineapples to hungry neighbors free of charge. He now grows enough produce to sell and that extra income has helped him expand his farm to 5 hectares.

Last year, Samson attended a training course by a farmer from Fiji where he learned how to manipulate pineapple plants, which is a seasonal fruit, so that he could stagger their flowering and have fruit to sell all year round.

Instead of selling his produce at big markets, Samson prefers to sell his pineapples on a small plot next to his house in Port Vila. He sells them at prices that are, on average, 80 percent lower than those at the markets. As you can imagine, he has no shortage of customers.