Food an integral part of Samoan culture: La'auli

Samoa has completed it's Samoa Food Systems Pathway 2030 which will pave the way for the transformation of the country's food systems for a resilient and healthy Samoa.

The announcement was made by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, La'auli Leuatea Schmidt during his address at the UN Food Systems Summit recently. 

The Samoa Food Systems Pathway 2030 was completed as an outcome of the nation's national food system dialogue.

"The challenge for us in the Pacific is to put in place resilient food systems and to recognize the critical importance of integrating what the land produces and the bounty provided by our ocean," La'auli said.

"Food remains an integral part of the Samoan culture with ties to our land and ocean."

According to the Minister, increased dependence on imported processed foods, fueled by changing dietary habits as well as vulnerability to climate change, the rising burden of noncommunicable diseases , and inherent limitations of a small island economy pose challenges in ensuring sustainable food systems to cater for a growing population. 

"A sustainable ocean platform recognizes that everyone has a part to play in food security and nutritious food for all," he said.

Lauuli emphasised that for transformation to be successful it will require collective commitment, investment and adequate resourcing.

"Strong leadership and partnerships as well as good stakeholder collaboration are vital to the effective implementation of our pathway initiatives," he said. 

Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata'afa said during her address at the United Nations General Assembly that the global food system is at a critical stage made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic and the onslaught of climate change. 

"The Food Systems Summit held this week was instrumental in mobilizing global citizens to find transformative solutions," Fiame said in her address.

"Samoa was pleased to be part of this important event which encouraged shared exploration of potential for collective action.

"Through organized dialogues, Samoa benefited from a comprehensive assessment of the issues involved in building the sustainability of our food systems."

According to the Prime Minister, extreme hunger is not a concern in Samoa as food availability is not the issue. 

"Access to a balanced and nutritional diet is the main concern and this requires a return to locally produced quality fresh foods and less of processed imported foods," she said.

"This will be key to addressing the rising burden of Non-Communicable Diseases - which represent the single largest cause of premature mortality in the Pacific. Unhealthy diets, tobacco and alcohol use, and lack of physical exercise are the main risk factors."

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