7 Jul 2010

Samoa resumes taro export after blight debacle

12:32 pm on 7 July 2010

The Samoa Farmers' Association says the first taro shipment to New Zealand in almost 20 years represents a huge opportunity for farmers.

Taro crops were wiped out by taro blight in the early 1990s, and it has taken until now for local supplies to recover for there to be enough of the vegetable to be available for export.

Afamasaga Toleafoa of the Samoa Farmers Association says there's been a lot of work done since to find a variety that's resistant to the blight, but also meets the demand of consumers.

He says the market could be worth about seven million US dollars a year.

"In terms of exports from the Pacific Islands to New Zealand, taro is by far the biggest item, so that's how important it is. Before the taro blight, Samoa was the main exporter of taro to New Zealand, supplying possibly 90 percent of the market, and taro was coming from Fiji and also from Tonga. It's a question of variety."

Afamasaga Toleafoa of the Samoa Farmers Association