Exports, health new food strategy's focus

By Adel Fruean 20 October 2021, 8:53PM

The launch of a key document, “Samoa Food Systems Pathway 2030” along with a new variety of taro for export will be held on Friday as part of the World Food Day celebrations. 

The global celebrations spearheaded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) falls on the 16 October, has been rescheduled this week, Friday at the Samoa Tourism Authority cultural village.

The local celebration which is led by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (M.A.F.) will also highlight the work by local farmers and fishers. 

The celebration this week will also focus on healthy eating to target the growing problem of non-communicable diseases, which is a monumental challenge for Samoa. There will also be a focus on organic farming and encouraging the consumption of healthy food that is grown and found locally.

The ceremony will feature the Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa, who will deliver the keynote address.

According to the M.A.F., Chief Executive Officer, Tilafono David Hunter, every year the Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry celebrates World Food Day (W.F.D.) during the agriculture show which is now scheduled to be held next year.

He revealed that this year the W.F.D. and International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (I.Y.F.V.) are significant because, “we can reflect on how far we have come as a country during this pandemic.”

“During this W.F.D. & I.Y.F.V. celebrations, the Ministry highlights the hard work of our farmers, fishers, food processors and exporters as they are the ones who continue to work hard to keep Samoa food secure,” he said in a statement by F.A.O.

Tilafono also noted the collaboration between co-organisers, the Government and F.A.O.’s Subregional Office with Samoa Women’s Association of Growers (S.W.A.G.), Samoa Hotels Association (S.H.A.), British High Commission, and other key stakeholders in the food and agriculture sector. 

“All the partners are united on the need to promote a healthier and more prosperous Samoa.

“While we have attained sufficient food in quantity, we still have a long way to go before we achieve nutrition security,” Tilafono said. 

“The Government of Samoa's National Non-communicable Disease Control Policy 2018 - 2023 notes that 84.7 per cent (ages 24 - 65) of Samoans are overweight, with 63.1 per cent (ages 24 - 65) being obese. We need to take action together to tackle nutrition insecurity that faces our country.” 

The celebration comes amidst the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted agri-food systems and increased food insecurity and inequality the world over. 

The theme for this year, “Our Actions, our Future: Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life” is one of hope and is designed to encourage people to rise above the challenge and look at what is possible given the circumstances.

The F.A.O. Coordinator of the Subregional Office for the Pacific Islands, based in Samoa, Xiangjun Yao said that the Pacific Islands, including Samoa, are faced with many unique challenges when it comes to food and nutrition security.

“We want to ensure our Pacific countries make their celebrations relevant to the local situation on the ground.

“F.A.O. has been providing support to our member countries to celebrate this very important day. We care about the support to the Governments to celebrate the day, but also our technical cooperation to tackle the institutional policy, and technical bottlenecks that impede the countries achieving food and nutrition security relevant SDG Goals.

“In this course, we are proud about the partnership and the potential with international and regional development partners and CSOs and private sector in countries.”

A representative from S.W.A.G., Shelley Burich said that Samoa is blessed with a bounty of healthy and nutritious dietary options.

“We are the answer…we have many local growers, farmers, and fisher people who rely on the resources around us.

“COVID-19 has shown us how dependence on imported food creates unnecessary vulnerabilities. Samoa also has major issues with NCDs and obesity.

“Studies have shown that there is a clear link between foods that are imported as well as certain pesticides contributing to obesity. With Government support, N.G.O. engagement, and private sector commitment we can help our nation to embrace local organic fare over less nutritious imported foods.”

Charlotte Brunt, of S.H.A. also agrees and notes her organisation’s strong support for the cause.

She is encouraging public engagement and participation, noting that the messages and lessons from Friday should not stop with W.F.D. but should become daily habits. 

By Adel Fruean 20 October 2021, 8:53PM
Samoa Observer

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