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By Tootoo Aleki

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (January 18, 2000 – Samoa News)---American Samoa's Aquaculture Co-op is trying to succeed where so many other co-ops have failed.

According to Co-op President Banner Fanene, seafood farmers need an economical source of fish food, just as local chicken and swine farmers need economical sources of chicken and pig feed.

He said the time is right to build a local feed mill plant.

"Without lower price chicken feed, local poultry farmers cannot meet local needs. And local seafood farmers need the right kind of fish food for our projects," Fanene said.

Fanene is working with an off-island government aquaculture specialist, Dr. Clyde Tamaru, on a proposal to build a feed mill plant for local farmers.

Fanene is optimistic that local farmers could help supply the local egg market.

Samoa News estimates that about 60,000 dozen eggs are imported every month (or about one dozen for every local resident).

"There is overwhelming evidence that shows that local egg farmers can meet the local demand. American Samoans should all support our egg farmers whether it be in the form of legislators levying tax on imported eggs, or by importers agreeing to decrease imports as our farmers improve efficiency, or by consumers simply buying homegrown eggs over imported eggs," Fanene said.

"We as American Samoans may want to adopt a theme of 'Buy Made in American Samoa Eggs'," Fanene said.

Locally produced eggs are more expensive than eggs from elsewhere, and local egg importers believe there are other differences as well that favor imported eggs.

For that reason, Fanene has never put into use a brand new egg laying facility built by his family.

"A $30,000 shed with layer racks has been lying unused for a year now, and we don't know how we can overcome the high cost of feed problem. This is why we are putting much hope on the feed mill plant project. It is only a matter of time," he said.

Fanene is eager to cooperate with our neighbors in Samoa.

"I foresee us combining with Samoa for a co-op venture on producing feed for aquaculture and land stock, including poultry and pigs. The plant may be located there. We need more information," he said.

Fanene is optimistic about the coming MOU between the two Samoas. He believes co-op ventures will flourish because people are realizing the necessity of doing business through co-ops.

Despite the steady advance by the Aquaculture co-op, the idea is still a hard sell.

"Of the twenty-seven or so members which started the co-op a year ago, less than ten are now active. Their initial gung-ho attitude wore off when they saw how much hard work was needed and the results were not immediate. But I know our people. They are lying back and watching us intensely. The moment they see we have the funds and are moving forward with the feed mill project, then they'll flock back," he said.

Fanene said that of the seven active members now remaining, six are oyster farmers while one is an oyster/tilapia fish farmer.

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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