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APIA, Samoa (Radio Australia/PINA, Dec. 22) - Australia is helping Samoa protect itself from the introduction of exotic pests and diseases.

Australian foreign affairs parliamentary secretary Chris Gallus announced the new funding at a groundbreaking ceremony at Samoa's new Quarantine Operations center.

Gallus told those attending that Australia is providing A$3.8 million to help develop Samoa's quarantine service. It is putting an additional A$3million towards a reform program in Samoa's Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries and Meteorology.

She said the new quarantine operation centre will help protect the country's plants, animals and agricultural products from the introduction of exotic pests and diseases.

Gallus said the Samoan economy has suffered serious setbacks over the past decade because of introduced problems such as taro blight. This had effectively wiped out Samoa's taro export industry in 1993.

Gallus is traveling with Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, who met separately with Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.

December 23, 2002

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