Savai’i farmers receive new taro varieties, boost exports

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The new Strategy for the Development of Samoa calls to re-invigorate the Agriculture Sector to contribute more to the national G.D.P. 

Samoa’s G.D.P in 2013 stood at US$800 million. The agriculture sector contributes less than 10per cent to G.D.P, with tourism contributing over 20per cent.

A healthy taro export market access contributes to improving the performance of the Agriculture Sector, and farmers having access to improved taro planting material is an essential first step.

Recently, the Sosaiete Aufaifaatoaga Savaii – S.A.S (Savaii Farmers Association) received the first 15,000 tiapula for a total order of 50,000 tiapula for the two recommended taro export varieties, Fusi and Salani, named after the villages they were selected from in the on-going taro breeding programme of the Ministry of Agriculture. The tiapula tops were distributed to 50 taro exporters in Savaii, who are registered members of S.A.S. 

The first harvests are expected in mid-2017, and are earmarked for the export market. The first generation planting tops (tiapula) should provide for the long-term sustainability of the scheme through further distribution to other farmers.

S.A.S Secretary Tauloa said that they had requested P.H.A.M.A for assistance in getting the two new recommended taro export varieties. “We made a request to Asuao as national coordinator of P.H.A.M.A programme for assistance to Savaii farmers in getting the two new taro varieties. 

This has now come about and we signed an agreement with Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (M.A.F) to receive 50,000 tiapula with the first 15,000 delivered to Savaii in the beginning of November. The remaining 35,000 will be delivered in January.

 The 50 farmers who have received the improved taro varieties will themselves re-distribute taro suckers as they become ready, so we’re looking at about a 100,000 tiapula available of the two improved varieties in Savaii by this time next year.” 

 “We want to especially thank Minister Laaulilemalietoa, for helping with the agricultural development of Savaii through the delivery of tiapula to Savaii. We are thankful also of the two exporters who travel to Savaii and buy taro directly from the farmers and pay them cash. Before farmers had to wait until their taro is sold in New Zealand before they get paid, now they are paid cash on the spot. That’s why we constantly remind the farmers to follow the recommended production and harvest guidelines to ensure their products continue to meet the market requirements for export taro.”  

M.A.F has three recommended taro export varieties – M.A.F 2, Fusi and Salani and are actively multiplying the planting materials at Nuu Crops Division. In an average month, with five taro containers exported, three would be sourced from Savaii. 

P.H.A.M.A National Coordinator Asuao Kirifi was instrumental in securing the two new export varieties from M.A.F and working closely with S.A.S. 

“The aim to gain equal access and opportunities to the new varieties by taro farmers in Savaii was considered an essential component and a mandate of P.H.A.M.A in gaining and maintaining market access.”

A workshop preceded the distribution of the new taro varieties to Savaii farmers and was aimed at clarifying the roles of all stakeholders. M.A.F officials and exporters presented on the taro export status, development of varieties, and market challenges. 

The Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (P.H.A.M.A) is a regional programme funded by the Australia and New Zealand governments and target to address market access issues.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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