Reflecting on ten years of research

By Mathias Huckert 13 August 2016, 12:00AM

Ten years ago, the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (S.R.O.S.) was founded to promote the country’s own variety of locally manufactured products. 

Since then, the organisation has introduced a number of agricultural products with the hope of improving Samoa’s exports. 

Yesterday, these products were the centre of attention when S.R.O.S. held its Awareness Day Programme at the organisation’s facilities at Nafanua.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi said the government is pleased with S.R.O.S’s work thus far.

“S.R.O.S. has also been founded to make available secondary industry products to Samoa, […] to utilize our educated scientists to test and work on those new products,” he said.

 These products should, according to the P.M., not be limited to the Samoan market but also find their ways into the markets found in countries like New Zealand and Australia. 

“There is the need to avoid the very rigid quarantine laws of [those countries], established to protect the economy from diseases and pests that are often brought in through the importation of primary products,” he explained.

Even though he did not clarify why those laws should be avoided through the research done by S.R.O.S. rather than to find a way to adjust Samoan exports to said regulations, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of S.R.O.S. for Samoa’s job market. 

“Our young scientists return with degrees to help our country to develop its secondary industries,” he said in front of the audience, which also included college and university students. 

“S.R.O.S. represents a place for aspiring scientists who wish to pursue interesting careers in the scientific production of useful products for all,” he encouraged the young guests at the Awareness Day.

There was indeed a lot to see and experience on the organisation’s special event. 

But not everything was constituted by S.R.O.S. alone: Samoa’s National Kidney Foundation had for instance set up an information point at which interested visitors could not only learn about a healthier way of nutrition but also have their blood pressure checked – with a good example being set by Prime Minister Tuilaepa, who was among the first to have done so.

The newly invented products by S.R.O.S. then where examined by most of the event’s visitors who were more than curious to try out exotic developments. Those included breadfruit chips, oil produced with local products like coconuts or avocados or muffins made of breadfruit flour, coconut oil and misiluki bananas.

As Minister of S.R.O.S., La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt, he said the new product range is targeting Samoa’s export market, “especially American Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.”

The difficulties which have to be faced regarding the export of goods into the strictly regulated markets of those countries were the reason why S.R.O.S. came up with a rather pragmatic solution concerning the export of taro. 

“The only way Australia allows us to export Taro is as a frozen product. It has started three days ago with a big packing of frozen taro leaving for Australia, but we can already tell that it will be successful,” the Minister said.

However, the Minister could not specify on any information about the recently introduced export’s profit margin for Samoa’s economy as it still is in the fledging stage, but he could indeed give a more precise answer on future plans for export plans in Samoa. 

“We start bit by bit but we firstly take what [Australia and New Zealand] are allowing us to bring. There’s a chance for [future exports] of Samoan limes, eggplants and avocados. 

“But first we’re trying to make sure to alert our farms for ensuring that our supply stays sustainable. The main focus at the moment is on taro, a new breed of banana and also Samoan coco, because there’s a worldwide demand by chocolate factories for that.”

In the context of its tenth anniversary, S.R.O.S. also introduced a new Corporate Plan for the future years. 

In the plan, the organisation defines it as one of its main objectives to “promote the national economy of Samoa based on research”, but also to “ensure effective training for researchers and professionals engaged in scientific and technical research work” to make the work and developments of S.R.O.S. possible for another ten years.

By Mathias Huckert 13 August 2016, 12:00AM

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