The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (F.A.O) is supporting Samoan farmers to consistently market top quality produce through a project targeted at the community, private sector and institutions.
F.A.O has recently launched a new initiative to reduce postharvest horticulture fruit and vegetable loss in Samoa, to be led by Prof Steven Underhill from the University of Queensland, Australia.
Throughout 2015, Prof Underhill in collaboration with staff from the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (S.R.O.S) undertook an in-depth study of the level of postharvest loss in the central markets in Apia, as well as other municipal markets throughout Upolu and Savaii.
This work identified postharvest losses of up to 20 percent; with fruit crops and leafy vegetable particularly prone to high amounts of wastage.
“Postharvest is a major issue for Samoa, not only does it reduce smallholder farmer profit but it decreases the amount of fruit and vegetables available for sale to consumers,” said Prof, Underhill. “A 20 percent postharvest loss means almost 1/5 of Samoa horticultural fresh fruit and vegetables is being either thrown away or fed to livestock.”
A significant proportion of the postharvest loss occurred in the municipal markets, and to a lesser extent through on-farm harvest practices.
The focus for the next two years is to work together to reduce this loss.
“We will be undertaking a series of training activities and testing practical tools and equipment to assist market vendors, smallholder farmers and commercial growers,” said Prof Underhill.
“Our priority do this in-market, with local communities and in partnership with commercial farmers – hands-on training undertaken in field specifically tailored to Samoa conditions.”
This project involves a close partnership with F.A.O and S.R.O.S who will examine food safety risk. F.A.O will also work with extension staff from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and students from the University of the South Pacific.
This project is part of an F.A.O Technical Cooperation Programme in Samoa that is aimed to improve the capacity for evidence-based policy monitoring and development.