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MK

Banana export ban and call for nonu standards timely wake up call

The honeymoon period for the Samoa banana industry getting a foothold into the New Zealand market didn’t last long. Judging from the latest developments, unless the Government is careful, the marriage could also be on the rocks. Which is what no one wants.We’re referring to the developments revealed in a story titled “Ministry stops Banana Farmers Association from exporting bananas” published last week.It wasn’t that long ago that the big breakthrough with banana exports to New Zealand was heralded as one of the best achievements by the agriculture sector on these shores. And rightly so. After 50 years of trying and failing, Samoa getting a foot in the door of the multi-million-dollar kiwi market was celebrated with much glee. And everyone in the farming community was excited about the opportunity to export their bananas and make some money. Who wouldn’t be, especially in a country that desperately needs a solid export strategy to drive economic growth, provide much-needed employment and improve people’s prospects?Alas the party appears to be over before it truly started.Last week, we were told the Government has stopped members of the Banana Farmers Association (BFA) from exporting except for Tanumapua Farms, operated and run by Taimalie Charlie Ah Liki.The decision, according to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua, follows a container of bad bananas which has threatened to shut New Zealand’s door on Samoa. Again. So what happened?“It was because of so many reasons (but) they did not observe the rules. They haven’t maintained their plantations and as a result the whole 505 boxes were condemned by MPI,” the Minister said.And the Government is not taking any chances with local farmers.“Until they get their house in order, I cannot take that risk because we almost lost the pathway because of their container,” the Minister said. “So I stopped them from exporting anymore bananas until MAF is satisfied that they have followed the rules before exporting anymore.”  It would be great to hear from the President of BFA, Tuisugaletaua Sofara Aveau, but he has been unwell.  In the meantime, we want to say that the Minister has an extremely very valid point. While the decision will no doubt disappoint a lot of farmers, it is easy enough to understand why the Government has resorted to what it has done. The Government must do what it needs to do to protect the market for Samoa. At the same time, there is an obvious need to amp up its efforts to raise awareness and educate farmers about the standards required to satisfy the market. To be fair to farmers, this is probably the wake up call they needed in terms of being reminded there are standards to be met if they want to continue to enjoy the benefits of the New Zealand market. But here’s the thing, developing and meeting these standards are not going to happen overnight. Mistakes will be made and lessons will need to be learned, which is how we become better at anything.Speaking of standards, when it comes to all exports, this so vital. Take another story titled “Nonu exporter concerned, calls for minimum standards” published on the front page of your newspaper yesterday.This time the fruit in question was nonu, where Exporter, Garry Vui, of Nonu Samoa called for the establishment of minimum standards to ensure the quality of nonu being exported from Samoa.  “My biggest concern is to protect our industry; we protect the fact that we have a very good product,” he said.According to Mr. Vui, there is no official national standard for nonu exports, which means there is no guarantee of quality from products being sent from Samoa.To highlight the problem, Mr. Vui pointed out there are barely any dedicated nonu farms in Samoa. Which means people collect nonu from their gardens, from the side of the road and anywhere. We can easily begin to imagine where the problems come in.“Because there are no official standards, a company can do whatever it wants,” he said, referring to companies who collect nonu. “But when it starts affecting the industry as a whole I think that’s wrong. We all have standards I think we should be working to.”Mr. Vui is absolutely correct. The point is certainly timely for the relevant authorities – and everyone involved. It should definitely be taken as a wake up call.Have a wonderful Wednesday Samoa, God bless!

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Street Talk

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Public gives thumbs up to new electoral law

This is a very good idea or amendment. It’s another way to refrain from using political and bias methods during the election because that’s been quite common these days. But yes I very much like this new amendment where people get to go to their real home villages to vote. I live in Upolu, and if this means I would go all the way to Savai'i to vote then I would gladly do so.It is very good in a way that it can help the electoral colleagues to ease their jobs in trying to sort out this and that because I know for sure it wasn’t an easy job before. To add on to my support, it would also be nicer for everyone to vote in their original or their own home village, because it would be fake if you vote for someone you don’t know, just because where you register is too far.I guess it’s something we can use to prevent the people from migrating from island to island, just because they want to vote for whoever they want to vote for. Another thing is that it’s an opportunity for everyone to be part of the development of their home villages. What I mean is like myself, I would love to go back to my village, even if it’s far and travel there to vote for whom I think is best for my village.It’s better for people to go to where they were born or where they’re registered to vote, so it would also showcase that this person belongs here and this person belongs wherever. It can also be an opportunity for other people, who haven’t visited their original villages and families for a long time, so they can go back to where they started and see how it’s been.I strongly support this new amendment. It’s not only because I would love to go back to where I come from or where I was born from – but it’s because if I vote in a place, where the person I’m voting for or even either of the two nominees, do not know me and what I want, what is the use of voting for him or her? I would rather go back to my home village and vote for the person that I know, is suitable for the position to take care of the people and even myself and my children.I think this should’ve been implemented during the previous elections already. In the past elections, I didn’t think it was right for anyone to just vote for whoever is being nominated, at where he or she is staying at. Most people don’t live at their real homes and they voted for people they don’t know, which is not right so with this new amendment, I’m happy that people will finally go back to where they came from and vote.

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Letter to Editor

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“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God…”

Me thinks Pr. Samoa Unoi of the Peace Chapel Christian Fellowship protests far too much when found out about his involvement with cryptocurrency. And in spite of his job description, I find nothing peaceful about his language. It’s also hard to believe he does not really care about the money he invests in cryptocurrency as he repeatedly claims. It only makes one wonder about the origin of such money. As for his rave against government interfering in how he spends money, the good pastor ought to know that the Central Bank of Samoa is duty bound to warn the people of Samoa about money scams that come to Samoa from overseas. The Bank is only doing its job as all good shepherds should.And in any case, the Central Bank did not tell the good preacher what to do with his money or with his flock’s money for that matter. What the Bank did was give a blanket warning about the dangers of these shady get-rich-quick money schemes, in the same way it warns people about pyramid schemes and counterfeit currency. And the good pastor may not be concerned about throwing money away, which incidentally is not what a faithful steward would do with heaven’s blessings. But most people do, and they will find the Central Bank’s warning of great value in avoiding being scammed. In fact, this is not the first time the good preacher has publicly shared his thoughts about money. The first time was to oppose the government’s proposal to tax church ministers like himself. He did not want to pay taxes and is one of only a few church ministers that spoke out publicly on the subject. As for Pr. Unoi’s claims about losing money by investing in UTOS, if true, he would be among a very select few who have had that happen to them. It makes you wonder whether the good preacher is not confusing UTOS with some other get-rich-quick scheme he is dabbling in.But no wonder the Good Shepherd told his followers to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth, nor rust doth corrupt, or where thieves do not break through nor steal” And if He was around on earth today, Jesus will no doubt have included as well all ge- rich-Squick scammers and prophets.F.S. SheepSamoa.

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