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Minister pleased with banana export

The Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Lopaoo Natanielu Mua said the first shipment of bananas to New Zealand last week is a test case.

Three commercial farmers in the Banana Growers Association sent 500 boxes of green bananas to New Zealand in a landmark export, which hopefully will reopen the market to Samoa.

Minister Lopaoo said commercial farmers are the best way to kick off an export drive because they have the funds to not only grow large quantities of produce, but also adhere to strict export regulations.

“Private sector will use their own money, and that’s what they have demonstrated and we have used banana as a test case. 

“They come in with their own money and we are helping them with technical advice and with opening the markets, which costs us nothing really, except our time,” he said.

New Zealand is perfect for Samoan banana export, because it is a large market and geographically close to Samoa, said the minister.

“They [New Zealanders] consume 18 kilos of bananas per person per year. 

“That’s about 86 thousand tonnes per year of ripe bananas!” Lopao’o said.

He says commercial farmers can build up subsistence farmers by creating more room for them in local markets once they export most of the commercial product.

I’m always telling our commercial farmers, you go and develop the export, the risks are high, prices can fluctuate. 

“But if we have commercial people dealing with that kind of fluctuation, and the other people selling their produce here, going to the side of the road to sell their bananas, they could have money straight away,” he said.

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