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PRESS RELEASE

2,000 Rural Samoan Households to Benefit from Increased Agricultural Productivity

March 29, 2012

World Bank Board Approves US$13 million Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Project in Samoa

WASHINGTON D.C., March 29 2012 --- Today the World Bank Board approved the US$13 million Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Project in Samoa. The project will help more than 2,000 Samoan fruit and vegetable and livestock farmers to improve their productivity and take greater advantage of market opportunities.

“Despite having a large agriculture sector, Samoan households remain vulnerable to increases in food and fuel prices, with the poorest households spending over half their income on food,” said Ferid Belhaj, Country Director for PNG, Timor-Leste and the Pacific, World Bank. “By improving the competitiveness of Samoan farmers and allowing them to capture a larger share of the domestic food  and export markets, this project will improve livelihoods of rural households and also contribute to increased food security.”

Agriculture plays a critical role in the Samoan economy, employing around two-thirds of the national labor force and supporting 18,000 rural households. Over the past decade the agriculture sector has underperformed and Samoa has become increasingly dependent on food imports.

Livestock farmers participating in the project will benefit from activities which will improve access to superior breeding stock; improve livestock nutrition; provide finance for eligible farm enterprise investments through matching grants; and improve meat handling via a new field service on Upolu and Savai’i, and later through the construction of an abattoir on Upolu.

Fruit and vegetable farmers will have access to new, higher yielding fruit and vegetable varieties, improved farming technology and access to finance for farm enterprise investments. The project will work with farmers to help them meet the demands of local retailers and foodservice operators for year-round supplies of fresh fruits and vegetables. The project will further provide support to encourage healthy eating habits and increased fruit and vegetable consumption.

The project also includes support to improve the effectiveness of government and non-government agricultural institutions providing extension and adaptive research services to Samoan farmers.

The Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Project supports the implementation of Samoa’s Agriculture Sector Plan (2011 – 2015) and will contribute to the Plan’s objectives of  increased food and income security by 2015 and  enhanced private sector capacity in improving productivity, value addition and marketing.

Improving opportunities from agriculture is a priority for the World Bank Group’s new Country Partnership Strategy, also approved today, which will guide lending and assistance in Samoa over the next five years.

The project will be funded by $US8 million from the World Bank’s concessional finance arm, the International Development Association and is co-financed by a $US5 million multi-donor grant from the Food Price Crisis Response Multi-donor Trust Fund. Several agencies will be involved in implementing this project including the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Meteorology; the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development and the Development Bank of Samoa. Non-government organizations, including the Small Business Enterprise Centre, will also be involved in project implementation.

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PRESS RELEASE NO:
2012/371/EAP