Ministry to revive banana variety

The Government is moving to revive the replanting of an existing banana variety [fa'i palagi] after an incentive to boost the export with an improved variety was abandoned by the local growers. 

The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua announced the plans in Parliament this week during his ministerial response during debate on the Supplementary Budget 2021. 

Lopao’o said it is understandable that local growers have given up on growing the Cavendish type known as the Israeli banana variety, because of the high maintenance cost. 

He acknowledged one exporter, who has the means to manage the banana variety in his 50 acres banana plantation at Tamapua, who sells an estimated 50,000 kilos of the banana every month. 

The Minister made reference to businessman Taimalie Charlie Ah Liki and his efforts to supply the New Zealand market. 

“He spends $800,000 a year for maintenance and operation of the banana plantation, to ensure it complies with criteria and regulations required [by export market],” he said. 

“That is the reason why I understand why it is difficult for some of the planters to grow this variety, because of the costs…”

The Minister said there is no problem with the improved Cavendish variety but its maintenance cost is an issue. 

He added the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will be reviving the replanting of the William variety [fa’i palagi] in October this year. 

“Our growers will be given the variety to replant, and requirements, then we can leave the Israeli variety to those who can manage it,” he said. 

“Those are some of the works from the Ministry, for revival of our export market. 

“As you are aware only our people and those from the Pacific eat talo but other markets in New Zealand and people around the world eat banana, especially the ripe ones.” 

The Cavendish variety together with the existing William variety were brought in to Samoa to satisfy the New Zealand market. 

It bears fruit 8 months of the year and is believed to be resistant to diseases such as banana bunch top (laufetiitii) and banana black leaf streak (lausului).

Banana exports were one of the main produce exports for Samoa in the past, but inconsistent supply due to pests and disease saw the export to New Zealand stop.  

After a more than twenty year hiatus, the green banana from Samoa has returned to New Zealand’s market. Not without hiccups, Samoa almost lost access to the New Zealand market two years ago when a consignment from Samoan growers were condemned by New Zealand authorities. It led to local growers being banned at that time from exporting, with the Ministry only allowing Taimalie to supply the New Zealand market.

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