Samoa issues temporary ban of taro roots to American Samoa

The Samoa government has issued a temporary ban on the exports of fresh taro to American Samoa.

This is according to a letter signed by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua, addressed to the American Samoa Government, Department of Agriculture Director, Filifa’atali Michael Fuiava.

In June 2017, the American Samoa Government (ASG) banned imported taro from Samoa.

The letter dated February 23, 2018, and obtained by the Samoa Observer indicates that American Samoa has lifted the ban, however with strict conditions which include (a) house- hold consumption and family faalavelave; and (b) commercial use of agricultural product (taro).

Lopao’o expressed appreciation of Filifa’ atali’ s position that local cultivation and consumption of taro is critical to the economy and way of life in American Samoa, and the immediate precautionary action by ASG to provisionally ban imports of taro from Samoa was in the best efforts of your Government to “guard against potential harm” to your local taro industry.

“As you correctly indicated, the verification of taro virus diseases can only be confirmed by specialized laboratory testing procedures.”

“The new conditions we understand the DoA has imposed on importers, is that Quarantine Inspectors (I understand to be American Samoan quarantine inspectors) will be required to inspect and verify the names of the farmers, locations of the farm, their mailing addresses, telephones and emails of the farmers from Samoa where the expected taro is to be supplied from.”

“These conditions, I understand, are necessary for your Government to issue import permits to American Samoa.”

“These conditions however do not appear to Samoa to deal directly with the issue and concern that I had initially raised; namely the guarding against potential harm to taro cultiva tion and consumption in American Samoa.”

Lopao’o pointed out that Samoa, through the powers vested in him pursuant to the Quarantine (Biosecurity) Act 2005, in particular section 33, a public notice will be issued to advise exporters that there is a temporary ban to export fresh taro to American Samoa.

He told the Samoa Observer that there is a need to meet with American Samoa counterparts.

“There is no taro going over to American Samoa yet, until this is sorted out. We can’t just send over taro without going through the process of the new conditions, in case they turn around and send it back to us,” said the Minister.

He said the issue at hand now is that the conditions need to be clarified between the two countries.

“The Foreign Affairs is working on setting up a meeting to go through the new conditions.” Lopao’o is unclear when they will wrap up going through the conditions for the ban before they can actually export taro to American Samoa.

Read more at Samoa Observer

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