Developing a cleaner export pathway for Samoan taro
Wednesday, 10 August 2011 13:21

Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Biosecurity Trade Facilitation Officer Roy Masamdu facilitated a week-long technical export pathway on-site visit and workshop in Samoa in JulyThe technical visit was part of a five-year project funded by the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR) to develop a cleaner export pathway for Pacific agricultural commodities for Fiji and Samoa. The SPC Land Resources Division (LRD) is implementing the project.

Meetings were held with project staff to discuss details of the project activities, trial designs and selected trial sites, material and methods. While the primary stakeholders were crops staff of Nu’u Research Station, consultations were also held with the University of the South Pacific (USP) Head of Plant Protection, Dr Adama Ebenebe to discuss possible post-graduate student research projects that would support the project activities, including research on the transmission of taro leaf blight through clean taro corms.

On-site visits were made to produce packaging houses at Atele Research Center and taro farms on the outskirts of Apia and on Savaii Island. It was pleasing to note that innovative farmers have already begun transporting taro in plastic crates to prevent the damage to taro corms that can occur due to rugged road conditions when they are transported in polypropylene bags.

This was followed by a daylong project inception workshop to provide background information on the project, project developments since 2007 and project objectives to workshop participants. The workshop discussed current pest interception records for imports of taro from Samoa into New Zealand, the current export pathway for fresh taro in Samoa and some poor harvesting, handling and transportation techniques currently used in the taro supply chain. Participants also discussed proposed trials and experiments.

The visit and workshop are significant in ensuring that relevant trials are designed and conducted. Stakeholders – government officials, exporters and farmers – were encouraged to collaborate to strengthen the implementation of the project. On-site farm and packaging house visits provide insight into the production environment and assist technical project staff in tailoring experiments to cater for these environments.

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