The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Lopao’o Natanielu Mu’a, is confident the annual Samoa Agriculture and Fisheries Show is a key development platform for the sector in Samoa.
The Minister opened the Show on Wednesday in Apia. The theme for this year’s show is “Enhancing partnerships to develop and sustain agriculture and fisheries.”
The theme, he said, is a statement to ensure that all stakeholders acknowledge that no part is greater than the other, in fulfilling their common goal of progressing agriculture and fisheries.
The objective is to achieve the target outlined in the Samoa Development Strategy and Agriculture and Fisheries Sector Plan.
“The partnership as our theme suggests reminds us of the work and the parts that we play in our individual roles in this key productive sector, and that we must become the best in our own efforts at bringing out the best that we can at this time and age, in a sustainable and resourceful manner,” the Minister said.
“Our Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is the lead government agency that works with all the stakeholders towards the established national goals, and all are designated the responsibilities in accordance with the resources, to bring about positive change or the desired outcomes over the specific sector plan timeframes, with prayer that our Lord God will continue to protect Samoa from all risks and disasters.”
“The Ministry continues to look into areas that can provide the best impact in solutions to assist the stakeholders, through the engagement of stakeholder working groups and consultations, and from which we continue to emphasise the importance of partnerships through this show’s theme and annual activities, that is inclusive of government and development partner dialogue which provide the required resources.”
“The sector still has some way to go to overcome some of the challenges that stalls the increase of production of crops and livestock into related agribusiness nationally and especially in the rural area. It is known that the number of rural households engaged in formal markets is rather low, with the majority being subsistence farmers.
Agriculture is labour intensive and rural labour is becoming difficult to attract and sustain due to better wages available in our urban area and overseas opportunities offered through labour mobility schemes.”
The Minister also acknowledged some of the challenges.
“Our agricultural production systems require significant working capital yet access to credit is difficult and interest rates are high, resulting in low investment opportunities,” he said.
“We are appreciative of the banks which over the past years established lending schemes to assist farmers.
There is a lot to do to ensure efficient and effective farm support services including market-driven research and extension facilities to promote improved technologies, and farmer-access to improved breeding stock and planting material.
We however remain positive and know that Rome was not built in a day, but it will be built and planned to be well established.”
The Minister also acknowledged Samoa’s development partners including New Zealand, Australia, People’s Republic of China, Japan, European Union, Food and Agriculture Organisation, United Nations Development Programme, World Bank, Forum Fisheries Agency, Pacific Community and others.
“To our farmers and fishers, I encourage you all to maintain your perseverance to achieve your own goals, and our Ministry will do everything we can to provide on-going support within our means to build, enhance and sustain our established partnership.”