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Roughly only 20-day supply of food in AmSam says report

Adding to the territory’s energy supply vulnerability
fili@samoanews.com

Because American Samoa depends on imported food, a comprehensive assessment for the territory cites food security as a vulnerability which the federal and local governments are called upon to address.

Ensuring food security for American Samoa has been on the forefront of ASG efforts for at least the past four years as local farmers and families have been urged to return to the land and sea in order to be self sufficient instead of depending on imported foods, which will also cut down on costs of food items..

Title ‘Addressing the Threat of Long-Term Energy Supply Disruption: a Strategic Energy Assurance Plan for American Samoa’, the two year comprehensive assessment report was carried out by Arizona based Westmoreland Associates.

The report points out that American Samoa is heavily import dependent, including food imports. Additionally, any threat to the continuance of an economy based on frequent resupply of food and provisions, including fuel, leaves the social and economic infrastructure of the territory less able to sustain an energy supply disruption.

Under Food Security, the report quotes one source, who “estimates that there is roughly a 20-day supply of food in American Samoa homes, stores, and warehouse at any given time.” The source of the information, according to the report, came from a January 2011 Guest Editorial by Peter Craig of the National Park of American Samoa, who wrote about a climate change workshop in February that year.

The editorial, published in Samoa News, calls for the protection of our food from climate change. It says that since American Samoa imports almost all of its food, “we do not even come close to ‘food security’ for all 68,000 people living here.  If the steady supply of cargo boats ever stopped coming to our island, you would probably be trampled by people in search of food.”

“A rough guess is that we only have a 20-day supply of food on our island at any given time, so it makes sense to improve our food production, however modest that may be. Clearly we need to put a higher value on agricultural land before it is completely lost to housing developments,” wrote Craig in the editorial.

In the comprehensive assessment report, it states that while the land and sea provides food to the American Samoan people, food imports represent the dominate source of food bought and consumed on a daily basis in the territory.

“Loss of energy supplies for more than a few hours, in the absence of back-up generators, causes the spoilage of fresh and frozen stores of food and could quickly result in spot food shortage,” it says.

In addition, the inability of cargo ships or planes—especially those carrying perishable foods—to take on adequate fuel once in American Samoa could also cause an interruption in their re-supply visits.

“This represents an additional vulnerability should energy supply disruptions last beyond a few days,” the report pointed out.

Food security and the availability of locally grown produce was part of the focus of the July 2012 Farm Fair hosted by the Department of Agriculture with support from the local business community including the Chamber of Commerce and the American Samoa Power Authority.

Agriculture Department director Lealao Soloata Melila Purcell Jr., told Samoa News at the time that “We need to look at the food security that we have from the local farmers” and what is available in agricultural produce grown locally.

Additionally, the department is also trying to find out from farmers what they are not growing locally and the government can work on adding other produce for them to grow for local consumption.

A target of the government this year is to work closely with DoA and local residents to grow breadfruit, which is considered food security and self reliance. The goal is to use a cross breed breadfruit that can be planted and harvested year round instead of by season.

American Samoa has been working with the Breadfruit Institute in Hawai’i for use of the cross breed breadfruit.

BACKGROUND

An article, “Samoan Breadfruit makes a splash in the Caribbean”, by Jon Letman, found on http://www.ipsnews.net, reports the Samoan breadfruit variety, “ma’afala” was selected as “optimal for mass propagation and distribution because it has the highest protein and mineral nutrition (iron, potassium, zinc) of 94 varieties studied, and is widely considered one of the tastiest of varieties.”

Of interest the articles says, “All the Ma’afala grown and distributed in the Caribbean today originates from the collection at the Breadfruit Institute, part of the Hawaii-based National Tropical Botanical Garden.”

See this article below  in today’s issue.



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