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Cabinet Minister explains

Businesses that use the Government’s pack house facility qualify for hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) certification.

This is what the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua, said yesterday in response to questions from the Samoa Observer.

The Minister was questioned on how one local company, Samoa Agromarketing, was given certification.

“Part of the government’s mandate is to assist the business community and anyone in Samoa who wants to export, we will support them as much as we can under the law,” Lopao’o said.

The Minister was unclear on whether the business community is aware of the services provided by the Ministry of Agriculture (MAF) through the pack house facility.

Last year, local company Samoa Agromarketing was given the green light by the former Minister of Agriculture, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt, in a letter dated 21 August 2017 to use the Government’s pack house facility and thus qualify for the HACCP certification.

Lopao’o said he could not speak for his predecessor but it is understood the Government was assisting the export company.

Asked whether this is allowed, the Minister said they are always ready to assist the business community. 

“We support everybody and in doing so, we have built a pack house in Savai’i and Vaitele. We support facilitate the HACCP certification for companies. I understand that other companies bring in specialists from overseas but that is their prerogative.

“If you have a packing facility, you necessity to get your own certification but if not, you can use the Government’s facility for exporting purposes and that comes with certification – given that our facility is HACCP certified.

“The Samoa Agromarketing is utilizing the Government’s facility in Savai’i and they export coconut and taro and in return the farmer in Savai’i gets revenues” he said.

When the Minister was asked on whether companies using the pack house facility pay a fee, he said the service was free in the past but a fee of 10 sene per kilo is now charged. 

“For the 2017 financial year, the Government spent $250,000 for the packing houses in Savai’i. However, that has changed when I came on board. The Government is charging 10 sene per kilo to pay for utilities for the packing house. The fee to use the packing house was cabinet approved.”