Govt. committed to protecting copra industry

The Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, is financially committed to ensuring that the country’s copra industry will survive in the future, but it’s not enough.  

In an interview, Ministry of Agriculture Assistant C.E.O. (Crops Division), Moafanua Tolo Iosefo said they acknowledge Government’s support, but they still have to seek financial assistance from donor agencies to support their work in eradicating rhino beetles. 

Rhino beetles have been damaging coconut plantations around Samoa to an extent that its existence has raised a red flag urging the Ministry to implement community based programmes, which includes sanitation, use of pheromone as traps and importing of virus and fungus to eliminate the coconut pest. 

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“Last financial year, the Government accepted our proposal and they gave us a quarter million, so we finished that last year, and this year it’s been cut down to $150,000 and we expect to continue on this money,” Moafanua said.  

“That is a very small amount that is why we are looking at donors to support us in these programme, but for the time being, the Government is the major donor because they see the value of the copra industry. It is not much but at least we know the Government is supporting this programme and they are looking forward, and they are pushing the Ministry to do the job.

“Hopefully we get the same next year; it depends on the calendar budget. The $150, 000 will be spent on sanitation programme, traps with pheromone and bringing in some bio control like virus and fungus. We are now in negotiation with one of the companies in New Zealand to bring in some of the virus for the bio control, and it’s really expensive.” 

Moafanua said they are putting a proposal forward to the World Bank for assistance. 

“Because we really need a lot of awareness programmes for the farming communities, and we also need to push the farmers and the families because almost every family they have coconut plantations, but most of them are old and we are encouraging people to replant,” he said. 

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