Samoa Company To Market Organic Produce Overseas

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

MAIDEN Samoa opens door for local farmers to export

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, May 11, 2016) – The launching of the MAIDEN Samoa company last Saturday has not only secured a door for local farmers who wish to market their organic produce overseas, but also to secure partnership with international companies.

"We as MAIDEN, we link our farmers to overseas markets and businesses who are interested in sustainable, reliable and profitable partnerships," said Trina Atoa, one of the Directors of MAIDEN Samoa.

"We want our farmers to provide high quality organic produce, and to supply high quality goods to an exclusive market," said Trina.

So far, the company has secured a partnership between Afega cocoa farmer Seumalo Taleni Isaia and the Wellington Chocolate Factory in New Zealand, as a supplier of fresh coco beans for the factory. The factory is owned by Rochelle Harrison who was in Samoa to meet her supplier.

Other local suppliers includes coconut oil producer Uaea Apelu and the Fuatino Natural Products and Papalii Grant Percival of Natural Food company supplying breadfruit flour. The other producer is Tausala Cooke of the Malaefono Plantation at Sale’imoa.

Trina said all quality products are packaged and redistributed by MAIDEN Samoa and through these partnerships; she hopes to work with farmers to promote accessible and affordable technology.

"We want to help our farmers to get the necessary information and technology, to ensure accessibility to these markets," said Trina.

Trina said they are also into business with companies that are mindful of the environment, culture, health, and livelihood, and these companies are ethical in their approach to business, and who understand that our plantations are the backbone of our families and villages.

"We collaborate on products to ensure our farmers, understand that our supply chain and ethical principles we use are the same from beginning to end," said Trina.

Overseas and local market compete for best cocoa

Launched at the Legends Café at Taumesina, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi offered a word of caution.

"When you are talking about exporting cocoa for a chocolate manufacturer in New Zealand, your company will be competing with our own local demand," said the Prime Minister, who is not only the Chairman of the Samoa Organic Farm Movement, but the Pacific Organic Regional Organisation.

He said the best drink in Samoa is the "koko Samoa which is also used for other Samoan food such as koko-rice, kopai and everything under the sun."

He told Rochelle Harrison that two other chocolate manufacturers in New Zealand, who had given him samples of their produce, and that Harrison already had competition.

"Almost all of our cocoa is organic and we have been growing cocoa for a long time, and we have all the best brands," said Tuilaepa.

He said, these brands were introduced to Samoa by the Germans and that Samoa was one of the 14 countries in the world that exported premium cocoa to flavour chocolate by manufacturers in Hamburg and other European countries. But all that came to a standstill when cyclones Ofa and Val devastated Samoa’s livelihood in 1990 and 1991.

"But we still produce cocoa for the local market," said Tuilaepa.

He proudly told the audience of his own cocoa plantation, where he personally planted 500 cocoa plants that are now in production.

He said the success of a continuous trading between the manufacturer and the supplier, is to have firm arrangements with families as core suppliers to ensure that the supplies are there with additional supplies from other sources, and pay a good price.

"Our people are conscious of the price they want to sell their produce," he said.

He also touched on the reason why the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (SROS) was created, which it to be serviced by Samoa’s own scientists, and to experiment new kinds of semi processing products for overseas markets.

"This is so we may not be subjected to difficult requirement in importation to New Zealand and Australia, whose quarantine prohibition requirements make it so hard to sell in their primary status, so we produce secondary products," said Tuilaepa.

Already Samoa has managed to produce various local produce such as flour made from breadfruit and oil from local avocado.

He congratulated MAIDEN Samoa owners Tu’u’u Kalala Mary Autagavaia, Trina Atoa and Tiana Epati, who also owned the MAIDEN New Zealand branch.

The initiative for such a company was solely on the idea of health and lifestyle choices, and it led to the directors wanting to do something about health, culture and the cost of living.

"We have a need to assist our families here and overseas, and we decided to make products targeting the health of our people, by encouraging alternatives for refined sugar, salt and white flour, so we resolved that a direct commercial approach of forming a company here in Samoa and New Zealand was the way to go," said Trina.

MAIDEN Samoa is also looking forward to reviving an preserving traditional knowledge by encouraging the growing and using of nutritional medicinal herbs to be used hopefully in new health drinks and tonics.

Trina acknowledged the support from everyone and motivation for establish MAIDEN Samoa and believes in keeping the faith and staying the course.

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