Community Insider Land & Sea Newsroom

The Young Tech Talent Behind Samoa’s AgriTouch App

In early March 2022, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries(MAF) launched the AgriTouch App for smart phones. The digital tool is designed to bridge the gap between agriculture and technology sectors to help develop digital solutions creating value for farmers through knowledge sharing, increased production, and improved incomes.

What many people don’t know is that paving the way for the digital transformation in Samoa’s Agriculture sector is a young and local start up entrepreneur.

Meet Smart App Developer, Tooa Brown. She’s a local Data Analyst consultant hired by New Zealand based Company, Delivery Associates, to support MAF’s Agriculture Sector Coordination Division (ASCD) in implementing sector projects, mainly the Samoa Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity and Marketing Project (SAFPROM).

AgriTouch App Developer: Tooa Brown is an up and coming Tech-preneur

What started off as an idea to create an innovative tool under the Samoa Knowledge Society Initiative Project that would facilitate the sharing and storage of traditional knowledge of farmers has led to a digital tool that will revolutionize how farmers secure their livelihoods and improve the Ministry’s delivery of projects to the community.

The AgriTouch App was officially launched in a ceremony on Monday 7 March, 2022 after 6 months of consultations with partner organisations and farmers to help guide Tooa as she set about building the framework and functions of the app.

Tooa Brown helps farmers from the SAFPROM Matching Grant Program to register on the AgriTouch App

“I have mixed feelings after launching the app; sad that the journey has come to an end but so happy that this app is going to play a big role in our work here at MAF and make a positive impact on our farmers.”  Said Tooa.

Some of the functions of the The AgriTouch App will benefit farmers by providing technical information relating to growing crops, updates on the status of current projects the Ministry is implementing, grant funding opportunities and record keeping capabilities for farmers to run their enterprise.

Additionally the App will also be updated with information regarding different workshops or trainings available to farmers as well as access to market prices for different crops. Another key function added at the request of farmers was the ability to communicate directly with MAF personnel in a chat messenger platform.

“The app is really unique in that in combines different components into one platform. This is something the Ministry can expand on and I can see that it will be updated according to the Ministry’s priorities over the next years” said Tooa. The 25 year old Smart App Developer graduated from the Auckland University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Geography & Environmental Science. She always had an interest in Information technology systems and during her time at Skyeye Pacific she had the opportunity to work on the user experience side of the Maua App.

“I took some basic courses back in university in computer science and then that knowledge and interest stayed with me. Although my initial degree was focussed on geography and environmental science it didn’t stop me from following my curiosity and branching out into information technology.” She said.

“A lot of the videos I watched online showed how technology was playing a huge role in simplifying processes.  When I came back and worked at Skyeye, I saw just how much technology was playing a huge role in helping the clients. From there I started doing my own self learning online.”

Taking advantage of free online learning platforms such as Coursea and Udemy, Tooa started to build her capacity by dedicating 1-2 hours a week to learning about how to use digital technology to solve problems,

“I just want to highlight how important it is to always take time for learning because it doesn’t end after school. I can honestly say these kills I have now in technology have been built over the last few years since I left university. As I come across a problem I try to solve it and I go online and learn on how I can solve problems for whatever project or client I’m working for.” She said.

Two years ago, Tooa solved a major challenge for the SAFPROM Project by building a Mass SMS Text App that would reduce time and the number of resources it would take to notify almost 4000 applicants of the SAFPROM Matching Grant Program during the verification process.

“We had a huge issue with sending out text messages to over 3000 farmers because they had to be sent ourtmanually and individually with each person’s name” said Tooa. “The manual process would take a whole day and require 5 people to complete. By building the Mass SMS text App, the team was able to do that process within 2 hours with one person.”

Tooa has managed to save the Ministry 1600 hours of busy work using digital innovations to help the SAFPROM team with their field work and manage their data. Despite these major accomplishments, she still continues to spend a lot of her time in seeking knowledge and is currently spending a lot of her energy learning about business development and management.

“I want to tell other people that you don’t have to just focus on specialising on one thing and if you want to discover your potential, keep an open mind and follow your curiosity because you never know what sort of great opportunities it will lead you to. The next area that I really want to get stuck into is, business development and building on the skills I already have”.

In the last two years, Tooa says that it has been a rewarding journey working with the ASCD, the unit responsible for co-ordinating the SKSI AgriTouch App and SAFPROM project amongst other initiatives for the sector.

“I’ve loved working with the SAFPROM project” said Tooa. “I’ve admired the team’s tenacity to move and deliver the project and I watched them grow into it.  My work is to drive and support delivery with impact and I can definitely say with confidence that the SAFPROM team do that. Working side by side with the SAFPROM team and giving them support, I got to see what a lot of people don’t see which is how dedicated they are in seeing that impact for the farmers and fishers.

Official Launch of the AgriTouch App: Hon. Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries (centre) with select farmers involved in Smart App consultations and Ms Brown

“The other thing people don’t see from the outside is they have such a small team running this massive project and the fact that they have managed to get to where they are despite the lack of access to much resources is phenomenal.  I’m just really happy to be a part of this journey with them, its been a highlight for me overall. At the end of the day, just to see the farmers and fishers smile when they receive their grants is heart-warming for me because they’re the ones we are working for.”


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