Groups from the Leadership Samoa programme got together on Thursday and Friday at the D.B.S. building to present their findings on six different topics addressing issues important to Samoa’s development.
The topics were:
- Managing non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) and promote healthy living in Samoa
- Promoting youth entrepreneurship as a career
- The educational system and the provision of a quality workforce to support economic growth and development in Samoa
- Management and coordination of sports development in Samoa
- Economic stability and going for growth – Samoa a case study
- Women in politics
Team Apolima, one of the groups who presented on Friday, focused their efforts on the topic “Economic stability and going for growth” and brought up issues within the Agricultural sector.
The team included Leilua Cecilia Mariner, Dr. Agnes Meredith, Tualasea Richard Silva, Fiatamalii Anesone, and Sioeli Alofaifo with mentors Maryann Lameko-Vaai and Taulapapa Brenda Heather- Latu.
One problem brought up was Samoa’s dependency on imported products rather than farming our own crops and livestock.
Livestock is also butchered in great number due to fa’alavelave.
“We import way too many goods and we export way too little,” Team Apolima stressed in their video presentation.
“We may have stopped importing turkey tail but we still import chicken that look like turkey tails.”
Cocoa and nonu are two of the few products Samoa still exports and that is not enough. The 15 year ban on Kava exports by the German health authorities was a big blow to Samoa’s exports.
Another issue addressed by team Apolima was that Samoa has “moved away from agriculture and have become more of a hand-out economy.” The claim was with regards to Samoans feeling as if receiving remittances is better and easier than working the land.
After the presentation, members of the panel and the audience were invited for questions and comments.
Maiava Atalina Ainuu-Enari, the Governor of the Central Bank Samoa, was a member of the panel.
“I agree that agriculture is the backbone of Samoa’s economy and other than our exports of Rugby player agriculture is one of our only resources,” Maiava said.
With regards to the issue of imports and exports, Maiava said “Samoa is a price taker and our goods that we want to export does not hold high enough value and quantity to be able to influence the price.
“Our buyers also expect consistency so we can’t tell them to wait for our crops to be ready before we export to them, they expect consistency and quality”.
She hopes that one day Samoa might be able to export “finished products rather than raw material.” She was referring to things like furniture made from our wood rather than selling the wood for cheap prices.
“Lastly on the case with Samoa being a ‘hand-out economy’, remittances has always been around and it is not fair to blame that on the agriculture suffering,” Maiava said.
“If there is something to blame then it is Samoa’s habit of focusing on only a few crops and when those crops fail then it harms the economy just like the Taro blight that hit us hard.”