Samoa Government Seeks To Revive Agriculture Sector

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Taro, cocoa, coffee, coconut and livestock initiatives pushed

By Nanai T. Laveitiga Tuiletufuga

APIA, Samoa (Savali, Oct. 31, 2013) – Improving the Agriculture Sector’s declining 10% contribution to the gross domestic product is the drive behind the aggressive campaign by Samoa’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to revive the sector.

In 1978, the sector’s GDP contribution was 51%. However, 22 years later in 2010, the Agricultural Sector’s GDP had fallen to a record low of 10%.

The data was released by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi in a sleeves-up address at the opening of this year’s annual Agriculture Show for farmers on Monday.

To alleviate the situation, the Prime Minister said a range of projects have been implemented by government.

Talo exports

To maximize on the sudden surge of talo exports to New Zealand and the United States, the Prime Minister said that a packing facility will be built at the Matautu wharf to streamline the packing of talo exports and access to container vessels.

"Only top quality talo will be handpicked for exports in efforts to increase demand overseas."

At the moment, government has identified 5 talo varieties that have received rave reviews from overseas consumers.

A similar facility in New Zealand to accommodate agricultural exports from Samoa is also being planned.

Cocoa, coffee & coconuts

The Stimulus Package to revive the cocoa, coffee and coconut industries is progressing as planned.

With over 800 farmers registered, the Prime Minister said that more farmers are needed to capitalize on the assistance.

Farmers who meet the criteria – in terms of land available and willingness to work and contribute to paying a portion of the grant – are rewarded with cash bonuses of over $1,000 tala [US$423.70] per acre of land. Seedlings are being distributed for free from by the Ministry of Agriculture.

The Prime Minister pointed out that a coconut research development unit and nursery will also be set up by the Samoa Estate Corporation (STEC) at Mulifanua to improve the coconut sector.

Said the Prime Minister: "The idea is to plant as many coconuts as possible to meet our needs to develop and expand coconut-based industries with increased exports in mind. Some of the coconut varieties we are growing now is lacks quality and yield.

"But with the right variety we will be in a better position to capitalize on the commercial benefits and opportunities offered by the massive coconut importers overseas."

Livestock

A shipment of cattle as well as sheep has been ordered from Australia and Fiji, respectively, next year.

The plan – according Tuilaepa – is to improve local stocks with new breed.

The cattle and sheep will be processed and distributed to interested farmers.

The Prime Minister said that the poultry and piggery industry is also being revived.

The thrust, according to Tuilaepa, is to reduce meat imports by building up local stock.

And with mobile abattoirs to be in operation next year, it will provide the necessary standard and quality to the meat slaughter sector.

But the government’s efforts, according to the Prime Minister, will be in vain if the farmers do not capitalize on the assistance provided.

"Your government needs you the farmers to make full use of the programs and assistance available. Without you, all of this would be a waste of government resources, public funds and all of our time and efforts."

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