Samoa is seeking other export markets for taro farmers who had been supplying American Samoa until the local Department of Agriculture banned their taro last month.
Samoa’s Minister of Agriculture Laaulialemalietoa Leauatea Polataivao Fosi has been writing back and forth with Director of Agriculture Filifaatali Mike Fuiava regarding the taro ban.
In his latest letter written in the Samoan language “for clarity,” the minister said the reason for the ban on taro from Samoa as reported over the internet is not correct.
Director Filifaatali moved to ban taro imports from Samoa after learning of an unidentified disease which was affecting taro in some areas of the island of Upolu.
At the time, Samoa had sent samples of affected taro for testing in Germany and Filifaatali said that the ban will be in place until the test results are received.
As of two weeks ago when KHJ News sought a status report on the test results, the Agriculture Director said there has been no further information from his counterparts in Samoa.
And the ban on taro from Samoa will remain until the test results are known.
Samoa’s Agriculture Minister pointed out in his June 20 letter to Filifaatli that taro from Samoa was still accepted in the United States mainland, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia and other parts of the world, and this was proof that Samoa taro was good enough.
He said this was the point he was trying to make in an earlier correspondence and added that the two departments of agriculture should have discussed the matter to ascertain the true facts before a ban was imposed on taro from Samoa.
Laaulialemalietoa reiterated that he will not interfere with Filifaatali’s decision because, “Captain Steffany calls the shots on his boat.”
He told the director, “If you do not place importance on this side of our work, then I think it’s better to leave this matter for now.”
The minister added, “Farmers who had been supplying taro to your side of the island, have been informed that we will search other markets for their produce.”