Taro export escape COVID-19 wrath

Despite restrictions imposed locally and across the world due to the COVID19 pandemic, the taro export market remains unaffected for domestic farmers.

The news is welcomed by local farmers who have seen a decline in the sale of their produce over the weeks with restrictions on opening hours at the local markets.

Exporter Ah Liki Investment says its taro export to New Zealand and the United States is continuing, offering a much-needed opportunity to local farmers.

“Despite the lockdown measures these countries have imposed, they are still accepting our product as it is considered an essential food item,” said Ah Liki Investment General Manager, Asiata Alex Brunt.

“Their supermarkets/dairies remain open to serve their respective populations so the window remains open for us as they understand too the importance of food security.”

According to Asiata, the first quarter of the year is always slower than the rest of the year. He pointed out the COVID-19 pandemic has not helped the company’s export with people being more conservative on spending.

Ah Liki was only able to export three containers last week to both overseas market due to the lockdown in New Zealand.

“Our customers were nervous at how the lockdown was going to pan out,” said Asiata. 

“Since then, New Zealand have confirmed their supermarkets and dairies remain open and there is some hope that their customers continue to buy. So for the next week and a half we hope to ship up to 5 containers.”

As for the state of emergency situation in Samoa, the ferry restrictions between Upolu and Savai’i the measures had left the farmers on the big island in limbo.

Asiata said it was unfortunate that the company was unable to export taro from Savai’i farmers because of the limited days the ferry operated.  

He said taro from Savai’i would have missed the cargo vessel bound for New Zealand at the time and the company made the call to collect taro for the three containers exported from Upolu.

Speaking about the next cargo vessel expected to arrive on Sunday next week, Asiata said they hope to get taro from farmers in Savai’i on the Friday ferry to Upolu and pack it on Sunday for New Zealand.

“We will be allocating a good amount of taro to Savaii farmers to make up for their loss last week.”

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua said the export market is no doubt an essential window to assist local farmers during COVID19.

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