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By Aeo'ainuu Aleki

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (August 25, 2000 – Samoa News/PINA Nius Online)---American Samoa stands to be well supplied with bananas by a newly cultivated pest-resistant cultivar, now available from the Agriculture Department.

According to Director of Agriculture Galumalemana Frank Pritchard, more than 500 tissue cultures of the top cultivar have been sold to local farmers.

Another 500 plants are expected to be brought in from Apia in the near future.

'"When we do this, we expect the farmers in the territory to really be well supplied with planting cultivars,'" the director said.

He told Samoa News that banana is a main food staple of Samoans.

'"It is non-seasonal like breadfruit and other staples, and taro is not the same because of the problems it is subjected to,'" he explained.

He said reports from the field show that the local market place has been showing a difference in available banana supplies. Reports show that local stores are getting increased supplies, as are the federally funded School Lunch Program and other social services programs.

Pritchard added that the local farmers are now able to sell 10,000 pounds of banana every week to these programs. But, he reports, the programs currently are only taking in 10,000 pounds every other week.

The cultivars, a pest-resistant type available from Samoa and other Pacific countries, was developed with assistance from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, European countries including England and the South Pacific Commission.

In Samoa, they are raised in a lab at Apia, and are sold to American Samoa through the Agriculture Department at $2.00 a tissue culture. They then are sold at $4.00 apiece to local farmers to cover costs and to buy more cultivars from the Apia lab.

'"This is a needed development for the banana industry,'" Pritchard told the Samoa News. "In time, I expect the local businesses and consumers to be fully dependent on locally produced bananas.

'"Somehow, I think the local market needs to be really attuned to a full involvement in the locally produced banana. It is good health for all concerned,'" he concluded.

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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