4 Nov 2016

American Samoa farmers rebuked for pesticide use

8:23 am on 4 November 2016

The acting director of agriculture in American Samoa, Peter Gurr, says the sale of some locally grown foods was stopped to protect school children from uncertified pesticides.

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The use of many locally grown vegetables in a school lunch program was suspended after compliance officers uncovered numerous violations by local farmers. Photo: 123rf

Last week, the department suspended the sale of the foods except those grown hydroponically.

The decision has been endorsed by Governor Lolo Moliga, who has directed other government agencies to join the Department of Agriculture in inspecting farms to ascertain which ones can resume supplying produce to the School Lunch Program.

The governor also directed Customs to enforce the local law which bans the importation of pesticides not certified by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Mr Gurr said farmers have been told repeatedly not to use foreign labelled pesticides and chemicals, but they don't listen.

"A lot of these farmers have been warned, the practice cannot continue," he said.

"In the past we did the E-coli and coliform testing on some of the vegetables. We removed them and we trust them that everything is OK. It seems like some of these farmers just don't listen."

Last year the department confiscated about 130 kilograms of locally-grown vegetables which breached regulations.

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