The Minister of Agriculture & Fisheries, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Schmidt launching the Samoa Agriculture Policy Bank
SOURCE: Pacific Agriculture Policy Project, SPC
APIA, SAMOA – FRIDAY 14 OCTOBER 2016: The Minister of Agriculture & Fisheries, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Schmidt, launched the Samoa Agriculture Policy Bank as part of the national Agriculture Show at the Malaefatu Park this week.
The Minister pointed out the importance of having all the agricultural policies and regulations in one place and accessible to the public through the Agriculture Policy Bank.
“The Policy Bank is an important tool to assist us in raising awareness and promoting our agriculture policy, particularly to the farmers. Now farmers have access to mobile phones and internet so they can access this information, and use them as a pathway for change – raising the status of farmers within the community, and also changing the mindset from old methods to new.”
The Policy Bank is an electronic repository, essentially an ‘e-library’ that provides easy access to key sector and sub-sector policies, plans and strategies, including summaries translated into English and Samoan, making these documents easily available for all stakeholders across Samoa and the world.
In launching the Agriculture Policy Bank in front of an audience comprising farmers, youths, entrepreneurs, development partners and government officials, the Minister thanked SPC for the support provided in introducing the Agriculture Policy Bank to Samoa.
The Policy Bank launch is part of the annual National Agriculture Show, organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) to showcase the importance of the agriculture sector to Samoa and highlight the achievements of farmers and the best produce from across Upolu.
Dr. Faletoi Suavi, Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, said “the Agriculture Policy Bank will be closely monitored and regularly updated by the Sector Coordination Unit, to support the development of evidence-based policies and assist in the implementation of the Agriculture Sector Plan for the next five years.”
He also stressed the important of information sharing using the Policy Bank, where countries can have access to policies, sector plans, etc. not only for Samoa but for sharing with other Pacific countries.
Ms Cheryl Thomas, Policy Research Officer for the Pacific Agriculture Policy Project (PAPP) stated that “Supporting MAF in the development of this Policy Bank is part of a program of work by the Pacific Agriculture Policy Project, and the wider SPC Land Resources Division, to strengthen regional agricultural development strategy across the region.”
“National agriculture policies are increasingly being used by donors and development partners to guide their investments in the sector, and making these documents readily available is an important step towards improving development outcomes for our farmers.”
Samoa is the fourth country in the Pacific to launch an Agriculture Policy Bank, preceded by Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Tonga. Other countries in the region have warmly welcomed this initiative, and Ms Thomas confirmed similar agriculture policy banks are planned for other Pacific ACP countries, including Timor-Leste.
“The Samoa Agriculture Policy Bank is the best avenue to showcase up to date policy documents and all other important sector documents for all our stakeholders. It will be the first e-library of policy documents for the Samoa Ministry and the Agriculture Sector,” said Ms Tai Matatmua, MAF’s Principal Policy Officer.
Also highlighted during the launch was the important plant breeding work carried out by SPC in Samoa, including three new varieties of taro released in 2015 that are already being grown by farmers specifically for the export market.
Samoa was one of the first countries in the Pacific to sign the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), and Samoan farmers are now reaping the benefits of the multilateral access system through these new varieties.
The Agriculture Policy Banks is an initiative of the European Union (EU), supported Intra-ACP Pacific Agriculture Policy Project (PAPP) and implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC). It is hosted on SPC’s Pacific Agriculture and Forestry Policy Network (PAFPNet) portal – http://pafpnet.spc.int/policy-bank/countries/samoa .