Proposed ban on talo imports a big “blow” to Samoa farmers

The proposed ban on Samoan talo exports into American Samoa is a “blow” to local growers.

So says the Chairman of the Samoa Farmers Association, Afamasaga Tole’afoa.

This week, Samoa News reported that the American Samoa’s Department of Agriculture was working with the Attorney General’s Office in drafting legislation for submission to the Fono to ban the importation of talo from Samoa. The idea is to promote talo being planted by farmers in Amercian Samoa.

At last count, the Central Bank of Samoa reported the American Samoa market brought the largest share of exports claiming 27 per cent of the market share.

According to the Samoa Bureau of Statistics, talo exported to American Samoa netted a tidy profit of $89,052 for the month of October.

That was for almost 20,000 kilograms of talo being sent across the dateline.

For the past three months, the crop has yielded close to a quarter of a million tala for growers here in Samoa, according to the CBS.

But that might soon change.

“It is not good,” Afamasaga said of the proposed ban. “It is a blow for some of the individual farmers who have been using that market. “American Samoa has always been one of our markets that is easy to reach, not the very stringent requirements of New Zealand or other markets. And not just in regards to taro.”

From the local farmers point of view, this market was of great benefit.

“A concerted effort to increase supply – particularly the new varieties of taro has been made. It had taken a long time to find varieties to address the disease issues growers have been facing.

“While at the same time meeting the requirements of a good yield and good eating qualities.

“In particular, we now have two (varieties) that are a good potential for export.

“And we have gotten to a point were our taro is in good consistent supply which has inturn driven the prices down.”

He said he hopes there is some consultation with the local farmers in Samoa before this becomes a permanent situation.

“We look forward to finding out more particularly from government what can be done,” said Afamasaga.

“What needs to be looked at is our farmers’ level of production and work out how much hurt or damage has been done, if any at all, to the American Samoa market as a direct result from exports here.

“So we hope that the authorities will be able activate or initiate some contact with the America Samoan government about the necessity of a ban.”

American Samoa’s Agriculture Department director Lealao Melila Purcell said in an interview following the island’s two-day Farm Fair last week that it gave a clear indication local farmers can supply taro and ta’amu (or Chinese taro) to local stores and businesses, who are now purchasing these products from outside the territory.


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