By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 05 MARCH 2018: Samoa has issued a ban on all local taro exports to American Samoa.
The ban is the latest development on the issue that has been running since mid-2017 after American Samoa unilaterally banned Samoan taro last year claiming possible infestation by a virus that has been the American territory for many years.
The issue was discussed during the Samoa talks late in 2017 and agreed for American Samoa to come up with the conditions for Samoan taro to enter the territory.
Last month, American Samoa lifted its ban but the conditions according to the Minister of Agriculture Lopao’o Tanielu Mu’a were not agreeable.
The conditions require Quarantine Inspectors from American Samoan to inspect and verify the names of the farmers, locations of the farm, their mailing addresses, telephones and emails of the farmers from Samoa where the expected taro is to be supplied from.
“These conditions, I understand, are necessary for your Government to issue import permits to American Samoa, however, do not appear to Samoa to deal directly with the issue and concern that I had initially raised, namely guarding against potential harm to taro cultivation and consumption in American Samoa,”Lopao’o wrote to the Director of the Department of Agriculture of American Samoa, Filifa’atali Michael Fuiava.
“It is to that end that a public notice will be issued to advise exporters that there is a temporary ban to export fresh taro corms to American Samoa.
“It is hoped that this measure will temporarily prevent any potential harm, carried by taro reaching American Samoa whilst we collaboratively work on efforts to ensure that we provide quality and safe produce to the people of American Samoa.”
Lopao’o told Talamua that his Ministry has already met with Foreign Affairs officials to discuss security measures on the issue, and have also requested another meeting with American Samoa.