Govt. plans agricultural export company
The Government is considering creating an export company owned by farmers and with a mandate to sell its products overseas, including newly developed products from the Samoa Scientific Organisation of Samoa (S.R.O.S.).
The plan was revealed by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi.
“This is the only way to tap into the overseas markets, because local companies are not interested," he said. "Either they are scared or worried they’re making bad investments."
Speaking on his weekly programme with TV3, the Prime Minister noted the groundbreaking of a new commercial factory operated by S.R.O.S. this week as an example of agricultural opportunity.
“The main purpose [of the Samoa Scientific Organisation of Samoa (S.R.O.S.)] was established in 2005 to develop local products to be exported overseas; including flour made from the breadfruit; oil made from the avocado; and sanitisers,” he said.
“They are also looking at producing margarine. It doesn’t stop there, the S.R.O.S. have successfully a new line of liquors using agricultural crops.”
Tuilaepa added that many other products can be developed from the crops for export.
“Given the predicament we face when exporting raw produce such as bananas overseas, countries are cautious they may contain bugs and bacteria; hence the suspension of [produce exports],” the Prime Minister said.
“This is the reason why we were unable to export our coconuts; taros at one time, due to these issues and Governments that are vigorous about the protection of their borders.
“Therefore it is pivotal the government is investing in this new commercial factory.”
According to the Prime Minister, while this investment into the commercial factory is vital, the problem of Samoa’s lacklustre export sector lies with the businesses that do not want to take the risk of investing in products to be sold overseas.
“They are cautious in any case the products do not sell overseas, or maybe they have financial constraints,” he said.
“And it’s inevitable that the government invest in an export company so when new products are developed [by S.R.O.S.] this company can send it overseas.
“The farmers can be shareholders, after all it’s their crops that will be used to develop these new products.”
The Prime Minister added the Government has played a major role in ensuring that farmers have easy access to their farms by fixing the roads to the farms.
“This is the [Human Rights Protection Party’s] foresight to assist the farmers in the long run, and developing of crops, now that [S.R.O.S.] has a commercial factory.”
The S.R.O.S. Corporate Services Manager, Alailepule Christopher Lei Sam, said construction of the factory is likely to begin at the end of October.
“When the Government approved a stimulus package for S.R.O.S [of] $2.5 million in March or April, that funding that was announced is what is funding this [commercial factory],” he said.
“So right now we are starting. I think at the end of this month, construction will begin on that building.”
The new more than $1 million building is tailor-made for the purpose of mass production of items developed by the Government-funded research and development organisation, according to Alailepule.
The latest product to come out of the S.R.O.S. is a taro ethanol hand sanitiser, which was created in the effort to assist the hospital during the 2019 measles outbreak.
“That building is specifically for that purpose and it won’t just be hand sanitizer, there will also be production of flour and those items that are needed often,” he said.
“There is breadfruit and bananas. Those are all the things we are looking at to mass produce. This project has been 10 years in the making and it is just starting to take off and that’s the idea behind the building.”