The recent and unexpected shortage of imported chicken on commercial shelves may have lasted less than a week.
But it was enough for the Minister of Agriculture, La’aulilalemalietoa Leuatea Fosi, also in charge of livestock to remain firm on the government’s conviction to start a meat import substitution strategy
With 70per cent of beef currently being imported into Samoa, there is a huge opportunity for local farmers to enter the market as commercial sellers.
With that in mind, since July 2012, the World Bank and the Samoan Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries have been working with these farmers through the Samoa Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Project (S.A.C.EP).
Its goal is to support livestock producers and fruit and vegetable growers to improve their productivity and take greater advantage of market opportunities.
Samoa imports 40 containers of meat every month at a staggering cost and as an import substitution, the Livestock Division under the umbrella of the Ministry of Agriculture is reviewing chicken farming, says the Agriculture Minister.
Soon to be opened will a chicken and poultry farm at the Livestock Division’s home in Vailima.
The project is in line with the government framework to lessen reliance on imported meat produce.
And to encourage families to take up chicken farming as an import substitution.
Already the Division has procured three incubators to technically hatch broiler chickens for consumption and layer chickens to mass produce eggs.
And 200 imported chicken broilers are also on island.
“Even families who are interested in starting a small chicken farm for their own food security can take part.
“With the incubators, we have the capacity to supply broilers and lay chickens to not only commercial farms but also families who may be interested,” said Laaulialemalietoa.
The project’s longer term aim is to support farmers to increase production and improve processing to meet domestic needs.
“We are thinking big and starting small with our meat import substitution,” said the Minister. “The ultimate target is for local livestock farmers to meet 50% of our meat import needs.”
Aside from poultry and piggery industry, cattle farming are also a major component of S.A.C.E.P.
The chicken and piggery farms at the Livestock Division in Vailima will be dedicated and in commission in the near future.