Apia, Samoa, 5 November 2014 – Samoa has recently welcomed the arrival of 110 “Fiji Fantastic” sheep that will help rejuvenate its fledgling sheep industry and provide the basis for a new national breeding program.
The shipment has been funded through a joint World Bank and government project – the Samoa Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Project (SACEP) – which aims to support farmers and the commercial viability of Samoa’s agriculture sector.
Improving meat industry key to food security, strong agriculture sector
Meat is big business in Samoa – it’s a daily part of the national diet and a key ingredient in major cultural ceremonies. Despite its prevalence in daily life, approximately 60 percent of meat consumed in Samoa is imported.
High dependence on food imports has implications for food security and constitutes a loss for Samoa’s livestock farmers, who miss out on domestic market opportunities. In order to become competitive suppliers, farmers say they need more support to improve the quality and volume of meat produced in the local market.
The arrival of the Fiji Fantastic sheep presents the opportunity to more than double sheep numbers in Samoa every three years, from the current 700, to 3000 over the next 10 years. The breed was especially selected for their high fertility potential, tolerance to heat, self-shedding and ability to survive well under low nutrition.
Livestock farmers face many challenges and high risks
Aukusitino Rasch is a sheep farmer who is benefitting from the project’s Matching Grants Program, which provides credit and grants to participating farmers. Mr. Rasch is using these funds to improve his farm’s low-quality tropical pasture, while renovating sheep shelters and fencing destroyed by Cyclone Evan in 2009.
"Farming is not easy here,” he says, “We lack capital for things like animal sheds. We lack proper water systems and critical infrastructure. We only have two vets in the country and face considerable risk as currently we only service local markets.”
Long-term solutions for livestock industry
The project’s focus on developing long-term, sustainable solutions for livestock sector challenges is a first for Samoa and will prove crucial to improving future stock bloodlines.
The new breeding animals will supplement the government’s flock on Togitogiga Farm, to service various private sector “multiplier” farms established under the program. From here, breeding stock will be made available to existing and new commercial farmers who are interested in expanding their flocks.
In addition to the breeding program, the project will also provide training to encourage better husbandry practices and stock management. The introduction of new field slaughter facilities in Upolu and Savai’I will also facilitate improvements in the quality, hygiene and competitiveness of Samoan meat.