No farmers – No food: theme of Samoa's agricultural show
Friday, 14 November 2014 06:29

A large number of taro farmers recently flocked to the town centres on the islands of Upolu and Savaii in Samoa for their annual agricultural shows in a bid to be recognised for their best and most unique varieties of taro. Importantly, it is during these agricultural shows that new lines are identified for possible export suitability.

The project Developing a clean seed system for market-ready taro cultivars in Samoa is part of the Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative (PARDI), which provides continued support to ensure that Samoan farmers reap the benefit of new lines of exported taro. The PARDI project is implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research with project  partners.

With the theme ‘No farmers – No food’, the shows on the two islands were opened by Samoa’s Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and other local dignitaries. Opening speeches highlighted the role that agriculture and fisheries play as a major source of food and income and their overall contributions to the health and general livelihoods of Samoan people.

There were other food crops on display, but taro was one of the major highlights due to the increased demand by overseas markets for Samoan taro. Between two and four containers a fortnight are exported by Samoa and taro is already short in supply.

More than 350 taro farmers from more than 100 villages registered to take part in the 2014 taro competition on Upolu, and more than 200 farmers from 59 villages took part on Savaii. Outstanding displays of taro varieties were recorded at the annual event, during which the importance of taro to the region was highlighted.

Participants competed against each other for best plant size, most desirable market quality of existing export varieties (Samoa 1 and 2) and potential to attain new export status among varieties other than Samoa 1 and 2.

According to Moafanua Tolo Iosefa, SPC's local PARDI taro research  project coordinator and plant breeder,  hundreds of Upolu farmers entered Samoa 1 and 2 varieties in the competition, as these are the two main varieties grown for local and export markets.

'Among other varieties displayed were talo Tanumalala, talo Salani, talo Aufaga and talo Fusi. These varieties were selected as potential export varieties as they have the pink taro characteristics. Talo Tanumalala was the winner in the 'other varieties' category,' said Moafanua.

'In Savaii, several unique varieties with different skin colour and a wide range of corm sizes were displayed in addition to Samoa 1 and 2. The variety from the village of Satupaitea was identified and selected based on good shape with pink skin colour. It will be included in the list of potential export varieties,' he added.

The SPC PARDI Project, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Crops Division, the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa and partners are now planning to collect other new varieties of taro identified as having pink taro characteristics during the agricultural shows. They will undergo further taste testing and shelf life evaluation.

The new taro lines have been generated from SPC-led ongoing breeding and regeneration programmes in Samoa, the region and globally supported by various donor-funded projects:  ACIAR PARDI, AusAID's International Climate Change Adaptation Initiative, the EU's International Network for Edible Aroids, the Food and Agriculture Organization's Treaty Access Benefit Sharing and the Global Crop Diversity Trust.

For more information contact:

Moafanua Tolo Iosefa, Samoa SPC/PARDI Project coordinator:, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Valerie S Tuia,  SPC Genetic Resources Coordinator/PARDI representative:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ;

Julie Lloyd , PARDI Communications: M: +61 0415 799 890; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and LRD This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Photo caption:

Abundant taro varieties displayed by farmers.