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It’s a “significant honour”

Samoa’s representative on the United State’s Government International Visitor Leadership Programme (I.V.L.P.) is excited about the opportunity to network and learn more about the farming systems in the United States.

Edwin Tamasese, the Managing Director of Samoa Coconut Cluster - Farmers Direct Ltd., is the only representative from the Pacific taking part in the programme, which started in the United States this week.

“The major benefit that I see with this programme is the opportunity to get first hand insight into the regulatory framework for access into the U.S. market,” Mr. Tamasese told the Samoa Observer.

“In addition the opportunity to meet those who are involved in the regulatory process gives faces to names that is invaluable. Actually meeting people face to face is a golden opportunity to getting the right people and the right information to enable our exports. The opportunity to develop networks into the U.S. cannot be overstated.”

Mr. Tamasese left Samoa for the U.S. earlier this week for the programme which aims to examine U.S. policies and programmes related to agricultural trade, food safety and sustainable agriculture.

“Another major benefit is actually seeing how the U.S. has developed its regulatory framework in the areas of biosecurity and food safety in particular and how this translates into practice,” Mr. Tamasese said.

“We are being given a significant opportunity to see U.S. farms and the technologies they apply, not only in the large commodity farms, but also in areas such as farm to table that we are trying to develop for Samoa and sustainable agricultural/organic practices.”

In Samoa, Mr. Tamasese works with students from the U.S. who visit on international exchanges in the area of agriculture. His participation in the programme is recognition of his efforts to train local farmers and developing the agriculture sector in Samoa and the region.

“Being selected to join the exchange programme has been a significant honor and was quite unexpected,” Mr. Tamasese said.

“I had no idea that there was such a programme and now that I am here in the U.S. and attending it, I am further honored by the opportunity that has been afforded to me.”

Mr. Tamasese said he is equally excited to meet other programme participants from Israel, Europe, Nigeria, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Nepal, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Vietnam and Zambia.

“Meeting candidates from around the world is a wonderful knowledge sharing opportunity. It is literally a global sharing platform where we can all learn from each other,” he said.

“It is really humbling to be from such a small island country and being given the chance to participate at this level. You never know, maybe it could be a lunching pathway to exporting to countries outside of the U.S. through the contacts that are being made.”

Mr. Tamasese is the Managing Director of Samoa Coconut Cluster - Farmers Direct Ltd, a virgin organic coconut oil manufacturing company in Samoa.

In addition he manages Soil Health Pacific Ltd - Growing a healthy future, a company that has diverse agricultural operations from free range poultry egg production, market garden vegetable operations and fertilizer manufacturing.

Mr. Tamasese also runs farmer training programmes in Samoa and has also had the opportunity to share his knowledge and training in tropical agriculture in Papua New Guinea, Fiji and American Samoa.

Prior to working in these areas, Mr. Tamasese worked for nine years for Visy Industries, Australia’s largest packaging and recycling company in the areas of Quality Control, manufacturing systems, GMP, HACCP and Logistics efficiencies.

*Reporter Soli Wilson contributed to this report.

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