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Surviving the blight: socio-economic consequences of taro leaf blight (TLB) disease in Samoa

Naidu, Vijay and Umar, Mohammed (2003) Surviving the blight: socio-economic consequences of taro leaf blight (TLB) disease in Samoa. Journal of South Pacific Agriculture, 10 (1&2). pp. 1-9. ISSN 1018-7774

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Samoa’s staple food taro has disappeared from family meals, ceremonial functions and markets. How can a country cope with a debacle of this magnitude? The Samoan experience has lessons for other small developing island states although this study was conducted some years back. A survey was carried out during 1999 to ascertain the socio – economic impact of the 1993 taro leaf blight disease on the people of Samoa. Using a questionnaire, farmers were interviewed in randomly selected villages districts in both Upolu and Savaii. Government officials in departments of Agriculture, customs, finance and planning as well as commercial farmers, representatives of inter-government organisations and representatives of business were also interviewed. The devastation of taro crop, a basic staple food had serious consequences for the economy of Samoa, the life of the people, their dietary habits and ceremonial functions. However, because of the countries diverse primary production base including strength inherit in small holder agriculture, various other opportunities for alternative sources of income, government measures and the people’s resilience and adaptability helped Samoans cope. A potentially life threatening pestilence was out – maneuvered by these factors. Alternative starchy crops normally grown along with taro for food security and animal feed, such as, taamu (Alocasia macrophiza), taro palagi (Xanthosoma sagittifolium), yams (Dioscoria alta), breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) and bananas (Musa spp) became more prominent food sources in cultural exchanges and for income. The Samoan experience of successfully meeting the loss of a major food staple provides useful lessons for small island states and developing countries.

Item Type: Journal Article
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE) > School of Agriculture and Food Technology
Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE) > School of Government, Development and International Affairs
Depositing User: Ms Mereoni Camailakeba
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2003 06:17
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2012 02:19

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