By R. Bourdeix, V. Saena Tuia and Alofa Leuluaialii

This website returns the information collected during two scientific visits conducted in 2001 and 2010, on behalf the Ministry of Agriculture of Samoa, the International Coconut Genetic Resources Network, the Secretatiat of the South Pacific Community, the Global Crop Diversity Trust, Bioversity International and the French Centre for Agricultural Research and Development. The objective of the second visit was to secure the conservation of the famous Niu Afa cultivar, the longest coconut in the world.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

General overview

Samoa, officially the Independent State of Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa, is a sovereign state in Polynesia, encompassing the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. The entire island group, inclusive of American Samoa, was known as the Navigators Islands before the 20th century because of the Samoans’ seafaring skills.

Coconut is the most predominant crop grown in Samoa. Its traditional value and multipurpose uses make it one of the most important crops in the everyday lives of Samoans as an important source of food and cash.

Landscaping two small Islands of Samoa using the Polymotu concept
Proposal for coconut conservation in the small islands of Samoa

Public lectures and communication
The new CIDP expertise on Coconut planting material in the Pacific region
Farmers and coconut associations in Samoa

List of coconut varieties recorded in Samoa in 2001
First visit in 2001: picturing Samoan coconut varieties

Ideas for replanting the Olomanu Seed garden
Copra making near Olomanu seed garden in 2001

In Nuu Research Station, Samoa
Collecting the Niu Afa variety in gardens and farmer's fields
Collecting the Niu Afa coconut in Olomanu seed garden
The Niu afa coconut variety
Earliest references on the niu kafa or niu afa variety.

Old lists of coconut varieties in Samoa by Christophersen (1935and Parham, 1972.
The Westec plantation and large previous replanting projects
Early Samoa, Niu afa and the naming of Niue Island
Old books to be further studied

Smallest Islands of Samoa
Landscapes of Upolu Island (South part)
Landscape of Upolu Island (North part)
Coconut palms varieties in Apia (in preparation)
Landscape of Savai (2001)
A survey of Apolima Island

Collecting coconut varieties for conservation
when Olomanu was the Samoan national coconut genebank

Technical information

For replanting material, please visit our website "Planting material for the Pacific region"

How to prepare leaflet samples for molecular analysis of coconut varieties.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Farmers and coconut associations in Samoa

In construction
Farmers association in Samoa

SFFI (Samoa Farmers Federated Incorporated)
Savaii Farmers association

Associations dedicated to coconut

Savaii coconut growers association.

The Savai’i Coconut Farmers Association (SCFA) was created in 2009 and now has 121 coconut farmers members. 

SCFA is the first Samoan farming organisation to receive the Fairtrade Certification in 2013. This young organization with a small membership meets with Fairtrade Standards of social and environmental performance, as well as business accountability and transparency. The Savaii Coconut Farmers Association worked towards its certification for less than a year, and it reached this milestone in early September 2014. As the most widely recognized ethical label in the world, the Mark allows consumers to identify products that have been produced and traded under international standards for sustainable production and equal trade; and also enables growers to improve the visibility of their commodities on supermarket shelves.
Ms Perise Mulifusi
Fairtrade ensures that farmers within the system receive a price which covers the cost of sustainable production, known as the Fairtrade Minimum Price, and the additional Fairtrade Premium Price, which producer organizations can invest democratically on community projects to enhance social, economic and environmental development within their communities. Supported by its local buyer Krissy Co, the kiwi ice cream company Nice Blocks and Fairtrade ANZ, the organization aims to contribute to the recovery of the coconut cream industry in Samoa, which has declined by 50% in the last 10 years.

Damian Buckley
SCFA was awarded with a WST 16,000 grant from Fairtrade ANZ’s Producer Development Fund in early 2015. The replanting project aimed to assist and plan for all members of SCFA to plant at least 50 coconut trees during the months of August and September 2017. The new tool kits (machetes, sharpening file, spade) were used to prepare the land for the planting. The seedlings are sourced from the farmers’ own gardens to begin with. Many of the coconut trees on the island of Savai’i are between 50 to 60 years old, resulting in lower productivity. However, when farmers see the value of coconut farming and the potential for a sustainable income through the Fairtrade minimum price, this allows them to stay and invest in their land.
To know more please contact the Secretary of the association Ms Perise Mulifusi, +685 7770432, or Damian Buckley, VSA volunteer, +685 7719830,

Thursday, November 16, 2017

in the seventies: Coconut hybridization programme in Western Samoa by Alfonso M.R. Mendoza -

From 1977 to 1981, Mendoza organized the plantation of the Olomanu seed garden, using the triangular system, initially at 72 palms/acre and later at 80/acre.
Seven types of Dwarfs namely Malayan Red Dwarf, Fiji Red Dwarf, Yello Dwarf, Niu Ati Red Dwarf, Green Dwarf, Niu Lea Green Dwarf and  Niu Lea red Dwarf.

1984: The first coconut varietal contest organized in Samoa

When in Samoa in Nuu Research Center, Dr R. Bourdeix discovered in the archives than a previous and more simple coconut varietal contest have been organized in 1984 by the senior officer Kenneeth Newton. 
Farmers were asked to submit 10 matures fruits, and the criteria was the percentage of fresh meat on the total weighes of the fruits.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Earliest references on the variety niu afa or niu kafa

History of botanics in Samoa
Whistler, W. A. (1984). Annotated list of Samoan plant names. Economic Botany, 38(4), 464-487.

The first significant botanical work carried out in Samoa was done by the United States Exploring Expedition in 1839; although the expedition's naturalists made large plant collections, apparently no Samoan names were recorded. During the next half-century, several other large collections were made, mainly by 3 amateur European botanists--E. Graeffe, a Swiss physician, T. Powell, an English missionary, and J. Whitmee, also an English missionary. Of the three, apparently only Powell recorded Samoan names for the plants. In 1868, he published an extensive list which remains one of the best sources for Samoan plant names, not only because of its antiquity, but also because Powell was a meticulous naturalist who spoke Samoan.
A second phase of botany in Samoa was characterized by the activities of professional European botanists. In 1898, F. Reinecke published the first flora of Samoa, based upon his field work of a few years earlier. Reinecke's flora includes many vernacular names, apparently based primarily on his own work. Several years later, in his monumental book Die Samoa-Inseln, A. Kr~mer (1903), who was not a botanist, included an extensive list of Samoan plant names. These names were not, for the most part, obtained from original field work by the author, but were based primarily on the work of Reinecke, G. Pratt, and Powell. The botanical information in Pratt's Samoan dictionary (1911) was based in turn mostly upon Powell's list. Kr~imer's list is, however, valuable since new botanical identifications and clarifications were added. Four other professional botanists collected in Samoa shortly after Kr~imer and Reinecke's work--K. Rechinger, F. Vaupel, C. Lloyd, and B. Hochreutiner--but they recorded few Samoan names.

1845 - Tonga

Rabone, S.1845. A vocabulary of the Tongan Language, arranged in alphabetical order: to which is annexed a list of idiomatic Phrases, Vava'u. 1856.

This dictionary cites different coconut varieties:

Other kind of coconut palm are also cited:
  • Ui, s. A call ; the name of one kind of cocoa nut.
  • Kafakala, s. One kind of cocoa nut.
  • Kita, 8. Tetanus ; a relapse ; one kind of cocoa nut.
  • Loholohotahs, s. One kind of cocoa nut. (Loboloho means the the branch on which the nuts grow, so this probably spicata form)
1862 - Samoa

Pratt, G. (1862). A Samoan dictionary: English and Samoan, and Samoan and English; with a short grammar of the Samoan dialect. London Missionary Society's Press.

Niu'afa: a cocoanut from which cinnet is made.

Other interesting informations to study further;

A, an affix to some nouns to form adjectives, signifying full of, abounding in ; as, niu a cocoanut : niua, full of cocoanuts.
  • 'A'ano, s. flesh of animals. 2. The kernel of a cocoa-nut.
  • 'Afa'afa, o. strong, robust; applied to tnen. 
  • Niu,s., Malay, niyor and niula. 1. The cocoanut tree (Cocos nucifera). 
  • Ipitfi, s. a soft edible cocoa-nut shell thought yo be medicinal. 
  • La'ita, 8. a cocoa-nut bearing large clusters of small nuts. 
  • Le'a, s. 1. One kind of 'ava. 2. One kind of cocoa-nut.
  • Niu’afa, s. A, 8. a large kind of cocoa nut, the husk of which produces long fibres from which sinnet is made. 
  • Niualava and Niuui, s. two kinds of cocoanut. 
  • Niufetepulu, s. Cocoanut with much husk and a small nut. 
  • Niula'ita. See La’ita. 
  • Niule’a, s. one kind of cocoanut
  • Niumagumagu, s. the name of popo (old cocoanuts) at Sapapalii. (note from RB : to be linked to the variety Niu magi magi in Fiji). 
  • Niumea, s., one kind of cocoanut. 
  • Niutetea, s. lit. the albino cocoanut, a pale-leafed cocoa-nut. Sasave, s. one kind of cocoanut having no stem to the fruit (note from rb : spicata). 
1865 - Tonga

West, Rev Thomas. Ten Years in South-central Polynesia: Being Reminiscences of a Personal Mission to the Friendly Islands and Their Dependencies, Illustrated with a Portrait and Maps. J. Nisbet & Company, 1865.

"the natives (from Tonga) reckon at least nine different kinds of cocoa-nut trees, for all of which they have distinctive names, such as the niu-kafa, niu-ui, niu-leka etc....."

1868 - Samoa

Powell, Thomas. "On various Samoan plants and their vernacular names." J. Bot 6 (1868): 278-285.

Niu (Cocos nucifera), of which there are several varieties, viz. : — Niu-'afa : the long kind esteemed for the length of its fibre, and preferred for making the 'afa (cinnet). Niualava : the strong-fibred kind. Niui vel Niuni : the dark kind. Niufetepulu : much husk and small nut. Niule'a : a low tree. Nut small. Fruit sweet. Fruits early, so that for years persons may pick the fruit while stand on the ground ; never (?) attains a great height. Niu mea

Monday, November 9, 2015

Namu'a or Anamu'a Island

Namua is one of four small islands in the Aleipata Islands, off the east coast of Upolu island in Samoa. The island is a 10-minute boat ride from Upolu and has beach fale accommodation for visitors. There are lookouts and it takes about an hour to walk around the island.

Namu'a is an eroded tuff cone but does not have the horseshoe shaped bay on the east side as the others neighbouring islands. Whistler (1983) recorded that it was uninhabited during his visits in 1974-81 but that the remains of concrete buildings were present. It is 20 ha in extent and 70 m in elevation and mostly clothed in secondary coastal forest (Whistler 1983). Namu'a has a simple architecture with a steeply dipping cone flank and a half-open crater zone facing toward the east. Both Namua and Fanuatapu were formed from explosive magma and water interaction (c.f. Kokelaar, 1983; Sohn, 1996; Auer et al., 2007; Németh and Cronin, 2009). The explosion locus must have been shallow and the volcanic conduit open, enabling relatively small amounts of country rock to be incorporated. The presence of coral and mollusc fragments in the pyroclastic successions indicates that the explosion locus was in surface units of a shallow seafloor during the onset of volcanism. The asymmetry of the islands with breached eastern sides is likely the result of wave action, rather than a reflection of original tephra dispersion.

The island now has a small resort on it. The flat area facing west and sheltered from the Trade Winds is grassed and there are several fales for visitors.
Namua Island Beach Fales resort - (685) 7510231; 7588209 Email:

Long-tailed cuckoo/Aleva (Eudynamys taitensis) A single feather of this species was found on the summit of Namu’a I in Jun 2003.


Németh, K., & Cronin, S. J. (2009). Volcanic structures and oral traditions of volcanism of Western Samoa (SW Pacific) and their implications for hazard education. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research186(3), 223-237.

How to harvest leaflets samples for molecular analysis

French old version is available at the URL:

This technique have evolved with time, and now it is possible to send leaflets samples from any green leaf providing that 1) the leave is already full green and not very young with remaining yellow color (too much polyphenols) and 2) the samples are free of any damage, disease, fungus, bacteria or insect attacks attacks.

Easy SMTA is to be signed before the samples to be sent Abroad

There are several ways to dry the leaflets. They can be immedialetly cut as two 20 cm long and dry on a table in a air conditionned room and out of direct sunligth.
They can also be kept  some days in a plastic bag in the fridge before being kept (number of maximim days to be precised). 
In the toughest and most difficult conditions, when the team travels for a long time to collect varieties or samples, another  drying method is possible. This method is to tie two folilioles together and to dry them away from the sun hanging on a rope, either in a hotel room, or outside, in a place out of the rain where the wind blows.