The Associate Minister of Public Enterprises, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, launched two key household reports on Monday at the Development Bank of Samoa building in Apia.
The reports in question were the Household Income and Expenditure Tabulation Report 2013/14 and the F.A.O report on Dietary patterns of Samoan households.
Whereas the Household Income and Expenditure Survey establishes the average diet of Samoan households, and which households are most at risk of poor nutrition outcomes, the report on Dietary Patterns identifies the food items contributing to current nutrition outcomes and makes recommendations regarding which food items could assist Samoan households to satisfy their dietary requirements in the most cost effective way.
“The report highlights clearly the level of nutrition contents of the Samoan households’ dietary intake,” said Papali’i.
According to the report, improving the availability of nutritionally superior food products at an affordable cost is critical to improving food security in Samoa.
“To our partners and stakeholders, this information is ready for policy-makers in the design of any interventions most effective at improving dietary outcomes in Samoa,” Papali’i said.
The Associate Minister acknowledged the F.A.O’s contribution to the reports.
“We value our partnership through the Sub – regional office here in Apia and look forward to other opportunities for collaboration.
“To the government of the day, we thank you for your support to the work carried out by the Bureau aimed at improving and supporting the agriculture sector of our country.
“Last but not least we express our appreciation to all the selected households for their willingness in participating and answering questions put to them that have resulted in the successful compilation of these reports.
“It is envisioned that the two reports launched today will guide our policy makers and planners in their efforts to formulate evidence – based planning and decision making for the benefit of all Samoans.”
F.A.O representative, Kevin Wall, said the reports calls for everyone to do their part to improve Samoa’s lot when it comes to diets.
“The real question is what we are going to do about it,” he said.
“There is not a single ministry that can solve this problem.
“It says in the report that with a lot of the sodium that we are taking in is when we put extra salt in our food, and that is something that most people are doing.
“How can we change this? Well it’s an education thing and so education is involved.
“If we are going to have more desirable food in the shop, then agriculture is involved because if farmers don’t grow it and get in the market then it’s not going to be available.
“[And] then there’s a policy issue too. Should there be a tax on undesirable food?
“Should food products that have a lot of fat be taxed at a higher rate?
“I think the real message is that, it’s a whole of government’s approach, it’s a whole of society approach so that the message could go out to Samoan community of all ages.”
Asked if poverty affects the people’s diets, he said yes.
“In principle yes,” he said. “If people do not have a lot of money to buy food then they are almost by need focusing on the lowest priced food like a pack of noodles. That is a reality.”