Local agricultural products cannot supply the overseas market

Prime Minister Tuilaepa planting a coconut tree during yesterdays coconut tree planting day

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA: TUESDAY 16 OCTOBER 2012: The Samoan farmers cannot simply supply the available overseas markets and the Government is doing it’s best to remedy this problem.

This is according to the Minister of Agriculture & Fisheries, Le Mamea Ropati during the opening of the Agricultural Week at the Nu’u Research Station this morning.

“More and more markets are looking at Samoa for products such as  coconut and taro and  are interested in some of our local vegetables,” the Minister said.

“We sent 8 containers of taro to New Zealand and the United States of America last month and are expected to send  more containers  this Sunday,” said Le Mamea.

How many containers he did not say, but he did talk positively of the “good flow” of relationship between the Samoan Government and the overseas markets where Samoa is looking at other close countries to export.

Asked whether Samoa considers trading with the Chinese government, Le Mamea said that “China is too far, and could be issues with the life span of the agricultural products.”

“We are looking at trading frozen products,” said Le Mamea.

Asked to elaborate, he said that taro could be frozen and packed properly before sending overseas, but this can only be done if both trading countries agreed.

The Minister of Agriculture, Le Mamea Ropati

Le Mamea blames the taro plight (lega) as the main culprit of destroying local agriculture which resulted in the collapse of the taro industry and a major impact on the economy since 1993. He said the Ministry of Agriculture has been working hard in negotiating deals and agreements with other countries to open their markets to our products.

Coconut which is now one of the leading export products is in great demand and the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi and  Cabinet kicked off their coconut planting campaign yesterday by planting coconut trees yesterday at Tuana’imato. Also participating in the planting are students from Vaiusu and Vaitele Primary schools and the Samoan students were expected to plant a coconut tree each during yesterday’s Lotu Tamaiti public holiday.

Other than daily consumption of coconut products, increase in products for cooking, mechanical use and beauty products has upped the commercial demand. However, coconut trees planted today can only be expected to bear fruits in no less than five years.