To help the nation cope with an increasing population, health problems, a high rate of imported produce and increasing food costs, the acting Governor of American Samoa, Fepuleai Afa Ripley encouraged Samoans to return to the sea and land to source traditional foods at a meeting on food security last week.
‘The government intends to educate our young residents through programs that teach the importance of subsistence farming, and of being able to grow and produce as well as catch your own food,’ Fepuleai said at the two-day national conference organized by the Department of Agriculture and Land Grant Division.
Fepuleai commented that the high rate of illness caused by an increasingly poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle on the island was a good reason for Samoan to become more self-sufficient in food production. In addition, the territory’s reliance on food imports makes it vulnerable to global market forces as was experienced during the rice shortage last year.
‘We get maybe 85 to 95 percent of our food off island and we need to do more to grow more foods locally, not only that, we need to look at fisheries … and we also need to encourage coastal management of the fisheries,’ said Dr Daniel Aga, director of the Land Grant Division.
The United Nations Food Agriculture Organization is currently encouraging Pacific states to manufacture their own flour from traditional root crops, instead of importing flours.
‘Root crops grow very well in the islands. And there is one small setback to root crops that is, after they are harvested, their shelf life is very short so they tend to spoil very quickly. So one of the methods of overcoming that, is to dry them and turn them into flour which of course is very popular at the moment because of the rising prices of imported flour and rice,’ said FAO’s Food and Nutrition Officer in Apia, Dirk Schulz.
Radio New Zealand International