Agriculture and Fisheries show a success

Crowds were out in full force yesterday to explore the Upolu Agriculture and Fisheries show yesterday at Malaefatu Park.

All parts of the sector were represented, from fruit and vegetable growing, to animal husbandry, fisheries health and safety to flowers and tree planting.

There were also many vendors of local cuisine and an entire play section for children including a bouncy castle and slide.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries (M.A.F) Lopaoo Natanielu Mua officially opened the day with speeches honouring the work farmers do across Samoa.

Lopaoo said he was pleased to see farmers exchanging skills and ideas in a central place.

“You can’t go to every farmer in Samoa and find out what they’re doing.

“What we’re trying to do is have an opportunity for farmers to come and showcase what they’ve got.”

He said he was impressed with the quality of produce on display and hoped people were sharing their talents with their peers.

With a bit of help and education, more smallholder farmers can reach international markets, especially once they are trained in quarantine requirements, he added. 

“Biosecurity is the most important, and with biosecurity the treatment of plants is very expensive.

“We are trying to develop smallholder farmers to a level where they can build up reputation via their experience to grow, together with their crops, and be able to export,” Lopao’o said.

Jackie Adam is a senior quarantine officer at M.A.F, and set up a booth at the show to empower more farmers with knowledge of strict export rules and regulations.

“There will be the farmer that hears about some exports but they are not aware of where to go or what to do.

“So we work hand in hand with the crops division and the livestock and fisheries division and sometimes we go out to communities and hold awareness programmes to help.”

She said farmers are becoming more knowledgeable about the work required to pass quarantine, and the work done to export taro and bananas shows promise for the other produce too.

“Almost every month there are more than two containers going out, maximum six or seven containers,” she said.

As more farmers turn outwards to export produce, Ms Adams said her division may have to grow to keep up with demand and ensure careful supervision of containers before export.

“But commercial exporters have their labour force, so they are a huge help for us. Their staff helps and all we have to do is verify that what’s going in is perfect.”

Food and Agriculture sub-regional coordinator, Eriko Hibi said subsistence farmers were their main focus, and they are keen to ensure farmers produce food for their own consumption, and potentially expand production to sell.

“As a result, there will be more variety of nutritious foods in Samoa,” she added.

Today is the second and final day of the show.

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