Samoa Ag ministery denies taro exports only for “big business”
Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’ Assistant Chief Executive Officer of Crops Division Misa Konelio denies small taro farmers are being crowded out of export opportunities by big business.
“That’s not true, what the ministry is doing now, is advertise over the television when containers come in and for farmers who want to export their taros.
“At the same time, we also have a list of all taro growers, with their details and their numbers for us to contact them when the containers come in.
“All the farmers that we know, have the right kind of taros to export, those are the people we contact, because we are not exporting any taros.
The ministry is focusing on two main varieties, Samoa 1 and Samoa 2, he said.
“Those are the taros that we prioritise first, but we are not being unfair on the small farmers.”
“The only thing with these farmers that have big plantations is that their exports are ongoing because they have enough taro to meet demand.”
“We are also giving the opportunity to small farmers, and we are encouraging all farmers to continue growing talo. Taro is currently exported every two weeks to New Zealand and has been since December last year, as well as America, he said, “Those are the two main countries that we export our taro to, but those allegations are not true - we consider all farmers who want to export their taros.
“The only thing is we have allocated all the farmers who have big plantations to make sure that whenever a container arrivs, there are always taros available to be exported, but this is encouragement for all of them. “It’s just like an employee, every two weeks they get paid, just like farmers, they should expect that every two weeks there will be a container for exporting taros, so they should have enough to export so that they can get money.
“A lot of farmers, especially small farmers, have just a hundred bundles of taros to export at any one time and if the ministry relied solely on them there would be a long wait to get enough to export, and they don’t want that”, he said. “Because the idea of the Ministry is to encourage the farmers to continue on growing, and know how to plan their growing so that they will continue on harvesting.
“The idea and the intention of the ministry is to have more exporters, there are a lot of markets but there are so few exporters.