Govt. should invest more to develop frozen taro market

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 03 August 2017, 12:00AM

Many of us have known this for a while. For this country’s economy to grow and for rural farmers to benefit, we need a strong foundation based on a sound, export-driven strategy.

And considering that our greatest resource is fertile soil which allows just about everybody access to plant root crops, vegetables and fruits, such a strategy must be agriculturally-oriented. It’s that simple.

Think of multiple plantations of all sorts of fruits such as pineapples, oranges, mangoes, taro and whatnot springing up around Upolu and Savai’i.

Properly run with an efficient management plan and plenty of support from the government, these farms will not only provide employment, they will provide much-needed export opportunities so that the people benefit and our government is happy when they receive the tax due to them.

This will without a doubt solve a lot of our problems, not just economically but socially as well. Think of young men and women who will now  have a job to look forward to as opposed to being driven to crime by idleness and boredom. Think of the monies generated for families, villages and churches and everyone.

Nobody would say no to that, would they? Even the government should be jumping up and down at the idea because that too could potentially solve half their problems.

You see, the difficulty for Samoa today is our dependence on aid and remittances. The fact is Samoa’s economy by any estimation is weak. Without aid, remittances and tourism, we would be in massive trouble.

Yet we need to learn to stand firmly on our own two feet. 

And this is where the government has got to be more proactive. 

Rather than just promoting the aid and dependency mentality, the government has got to be seen to be at the forefront of efforts to change this mindset.

One positive example we have seen – although it is early days yet – is the growing popularity of frozen taro. 

Recently, the government has made a strong push among the Samoan communities in Australia and New Zealand to look out for the products.

After years of research and development, frozen taro is slowly but surely making waves with a huge opportunity for growth.

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, La’auli Leuatea Schmidt recently said frozen taro is a new idea being developed and they are looking at growing this market.

For the uninitiated, the frozen taro have a shelf life of up to 7 months. 

They are processed, packaged and exported to the market’s requirements. One of the benefits is thats one way to overcome all the biosecurity requirements of New Zealand and other countries.

And so far so good. 

Frozen taro exports to Australia has grown with four containers launched in Melbourne and another four in Brisbane recently.

In Sydney, a total of 15 containers have been exported over the past 18 months.  The government is also looking to spread the products to Wellington and Christchurch. This is an exciting development that deserves support.

We accept that logistically there is a lot more to be done. 

Nonetheless this is a good start.

But imagine what could happen if the government was to invest several millions in making this work so that everyone around the country plays a part and in return benefit from it.

We know one thing for sure we have plenty of land and willing people who are ready to work. Besides, why should we restrict it to taro? Why can’t we do the same thing to our taamu, bananas, yams, fruits and vegetables? What are we waiting for?

Have a productive Wednesday Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 03 August 2017, 12:00AM

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