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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (January 3, 2000 – Samoa News)---School children will soon find taro on their cafeteria trays.

In the first semester, the federally-funded School Lunch Program purchased green bananas from local farmers, but the farmers are now requested to bring in a total of 4,000 to 5,000 pounds of taro every other week.

They will be paid $1.75 per pound for the taro. School Lunch will not be buying green bananas any more, but it will buy ripe bananas, for $1.25 a pound (School Lunch was paying only $.85/lb for green bananas). Officials want about twice as many pounds of ripe bananas as taro.

Galumalemana Frank Pritchard, Director of the Department of Agriculture, acknowledged reports that students are not keen to eat green bananas, but he said "a lot of our kids eat taro."

He said local farmers are doing well with the revival of blight-resistant taro and hopes that the farmers will be able to supply all the taro sought by the School Lunch buyers.

He said farmers are still unable to provide enough vegetables to meet the School Lunch Program needs. When there isn't enough local produce, canned vegetables are used instead.

Galumalemana was one of the Tauese administration officials who recently participated in talks with their Samoan government counterparts.

"I think our meeting Monday was a bit different than other meetings in the past because now both our Governor and Samoa's Prime Minister see the necessity of these discussion for better relation between the two Samoas," Galumalemana observed.

As for agriculture, Galumalemana stressed the difference between food production (e.g., growing passion fruit) and food processing (e.g., making passion fruit juice).

"Food processing is a necessary complement to food production done in all advanced countries," Galumalemana explained. "It's one of the best ways to stimulate the agriculture industry because farmers know there is always a market for their products.

"For American Samoa and Samoa, there is a need for local juices instead of importing from outside. We can grow a lot of fruits for juice production," he added. "Maybe this is the agriculture- related area where the two countries can work together.

"Instead of our local farmers competing with Samoans farmers who send their products to sell here, we can do a joint juice production," he said.

Items from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to

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