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A Samoan affair with the Ma’afala

Food, fun, recipe contests and celebrity chefs take over on Day Two when the Ulu Summit and Festival moves to the Fagatogo Marketplace on Thursday, Dec. 6.

Fest goers will see traditional cultural uses of the Ulu tree, as well as the many methods of cooking and special dishes demonstrated by renowned celebrity chef Sam Choy of Hawaii and Samoa’s own Chef Sualua of the American Samoa Culinary Academy in Malaeimi.

The knowledge sharing and fun occasion will provide opportunities for locals to enter samples of their special Ulu recipes to be featured alongside traditional and inventive culinary ulu delights from throughout the region and world.  The public is invited to taste and judge.

The Festival portion of the summit featuring regional and international agricultural programs is a project of Director of Agriculture Lealao Mel Purcell assisted by Deputy Director Pete Gurr. Overseas resources and support was provided by the University of Hawaii Pacific Business Center Program.


The foundation to be set by the Dec. 2012 summit will determine the scope and scale of the planned 2013 greater Ulu Conference.

The opportunity to link and create a global network for Ulu based food production is compelling.

Inviting delegations representing the global Ulu initiatives from the U.S., Caribbean, South American, Mexico, Central America, Africa, Asia, Central Asia and Oceania to an Ulu conference in the home of the Maafala is a very exciting proposition to contemplate. All of these areas  are growing and benefiting from the Ma’afala of Samoa.

 Although originally the organizers of the 2012 Ulu Summit  envisioned world-wide participation, a decision to scale the Ulu Summit to a Two Samoas event grew out of the reality of available resources and the level of cooperation achieved at the Two Samoas Summit hosted in October by Governor Togiola Tulafono.


Day one of the two-day Ulu Summit and Festival will focus on developing this partnership between American and Independent Samoa in the specialty foods industry and will lay the foundation for an Ulu (breadfruit) based food manufacturing and export industry in American Samoa.

It will include discussions on a joint business strategy to develop a regional commercialization model of breadfruit cultivation in Samoa and shipping the fruit (into a pre-processed mash or other form) to American Samoa for processing into gluten free flour for export into the US market. Additional emphasis will be on scaled Ulu processing plant models for island village and community clusters for local economic development, food security and sustainability.  (See more details in Monday’s article.)


Other key expert resources not available are committed to future developments from the Ulu Summit.  A key resource collaborating through the National EDA University Center network with the UHPBCP, are Kansas State University food processing and manufacturing engineers through its Advanced Manufacturing Institute (AMI) that provides design and engineering services to help develop products, validate product performance, optimize equipment design and improve manufacturing efficiency. Kansas State’s AMI is a leading expert in food manufacturing and engineering for the making of flour from food sources. 

 Special Acknowledgements for support and sponsorship of key participants is extended to the Ulu Pono Initiative, Pacific Gateway, National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC), University of Hawaii Department of Urban and Regional Planning, UH Pacific Business Center and Dr. John Morton, University of Hawaii Vice President for Community Colleges.

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— Honorable Le Mamea Ropati Mualia, Minister of Agriculture of the Samoa Government or official designee.

— Papalii Grant Percival, president of the Samoa Association of Manufacturers and Exporters (SAME), Natural Foods International Ltd managing director, and entrepreneur known for his passion for Samoan products. Papalii in 2009 was among the first to look into manufacturing flour locally in Samoa. His goals were to ensure the flour meets quality standards and that it is a sustainable operation.

— Additional key participants being coordinated by the ASG Department of Agriculture include representation from Scientific Research Organization of Samoa (SROS). On February 17, 2011 a landmark was reached by SROS when internationally recognized accreditation agency IANZ (International Accreditation of New Zealand) officially recognized their Chemistry and Food Safety laboratories. The SROS laboratory facilities are the first in the South Pacific region to be awarded a microbiology accreditation. Among its other achievements in a short time is the development since 2006, of a procedure to produce flour from breadfruit and cassava that is abundantly available in Samoa. In 2012 SROS has produced Samoa’s first locally manufactured avocado oil giving the local Samoan community the first opportunity to enjoy the prototype product.

— Tilafono Leatiogie David Joseph Hunter, Chief Executive Officer, SROS

— Mrs. Gaufa Salesa-Fetu,Manager, Industrial Research Division, SROS/Lead scientist for New Product Development research work including the production and processing of Breadfruit Flour.

— Dr. Kenneth Wong, VSA Scientific Research Adviser

— Dr. Diane Ragone of the National Tropical Botanical Garden Breadfruit Institute and Director of the Breadfruit Institute. Dr. Ragone is the world's leading expert on breadfruit. After studying and collecting the plants for more than twenty years, Dr. Diane Ragone has more than 120 Breadfruit varieties in her collection housed at the Institute. In 2004 Dr. Susan Murch, her research colleague at the University of British Columbia, developed a method to propagate young Breadfruit plants using a special method of in-vitro tissue culture. This is the method plant companies use to quickly and affordably produce millions of identical annuals.

— Dr. Alvin Huang a leading tropical agricultural scientist from the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture. His academic research is in the area of food chemistry, food product development, food processing and food service management. He is the lead inventor in four US patents on taro processing, taro-based food products and has extensive and published research on taro and breadfruit. Dr. Huang is also a certified servesafe course instructor by the national Restaurant Association (NRA).

— Celebrity Chef Sam Choy is a chef, restaurateur, and television personality known as a founding contributor of "Pacific rim cuisine". Choy is an alumnus of the Kapiolani Community College Culinary Arts program. One of his first jobs as a chef was at The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. He would then return to Hawaii, where he eventually opened a chain of restaurants. In 1991, Choy founded the Poke Festival and Recipe Contest. In 2004, Choy was awarded the James Beard Foundation Award for Sam Choy's Kalokoin Kailua-Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii. Choy has appeared in several Food TV programs, including Ready.. Set... Cook!and Iron Chef America. He is good friends with Emeril Lagasse, who has appeared on Choy's TV show Sam Choy's Kitchenon KHNL. Lagasse has also mentioned Choy by name several times in his TV shows; one of those times he was making Poke on his live TV show, and added peanut butter to the Poke - Choy's secret ingredient. Choy has also very recently designed special Hawaiian inspired dishes for American Airlines first class passengers to and from Hawaii.

— Dr Craig Elevitch, Author and Scientist, a renowned expert on agro forestry and tropical trees, plants and fruits. His recent book, Specialty Crops for Pacific Islands (2011), covers horticulture, value-added processing, and marketing for dozens of important tropical crops. His work with The Homegrown Food Network and Olohana Foundation has lead to partnership efforts with Conservation International and Hawaii Fish Trust re-establishing Kuleana lands agricultural capacity on the island of Lana'i.   

— Sean Nelsen, Director of Business Development FoodSource, a C.H. Robinson company. Sean has played an integral role in developing new sourcing and supply chain management techniques over the last decade and took a lead role in defining C.H. Robinson’s sourcing and transportation services line to restaurants. Sean managed the company team that successfully linked FoodSource to the national sandwich chain, SubWay. He brings supply chain visibility tools to produce shippers, distributors and end users in the form of greater information over pricing, contract management, and freight execution. FoodSource is very interested in the gluten free Ulu flour production potential for the US market. 

— Papalii Dr. Failautusi Avegalio, will represent Dr. Karl Kim, Executive Director of the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC) currently in the DC.  Papalii is Director of University of Hawaii Pacific Business Center (UHPBCP) and Executive Director of the Honolulu Minority Business Enterprise Center both at the Shidler College of Business on the UH Manoa campus. Papalii was awarded the PRIMO national Leadership award in 2010. PRiMO (Pacific Risk Management ‘Ohana) is a consortium of local, national, and regional agencies, institutions, and organizations committed to enhancing the resilience of Pacific communities to hazards. Papalii was awarded the Pacific leadership award.