Samoa launches ‘Ava Standard, Regulation

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Monday, June 04 2018

The launch of the Samoa ‘Ava Standard and ‘Ava Regulation marks a new beginning in the country’s efforts to improve the quality of ‘ava. Launched on Friday, 25 May 2018, the standard and regulation have been welcomed by stakeholders of the ‘ava industry.

The standard and regulation will guide the way ‘ava and ‘ava products are handled, processed, packaged and exported to overseas markets and will facilitate safe trade by ensuring the products are compliant with quality standards and safe for human consumption. The two policies act as a point of reference for ‘ava stakeholders to improve the quality of ’ava from production to sales of the commodity.

The development of the ‘Ava Standard and ‘Ava Regulation was led by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour (MCIL) in collaboration with the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (SROS), Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF), Ministry of Health (MoH), representatives of farmer organisations and the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) Program.

Advisor to the Sosaiete Aufaifaatoaga Savai’i (SAS/Savai’i Farmers Association) and ‘ava farmer, Vaaaoao Alofipo, said the launch of the standard and regulation offered farmers the chance to improve their production of ‘ava for the export market. Another farmer Tiatia Tauloa said the documents would open up more markets for them.

‘Ava, also known as kava, has historically been an important crop in Samoa and other Pacific countries, but production decreased significantly following the closure of major markets in the late 1990s. Despite the European Union lifting its ‘ava ban in 2012, ‘ava exports have been increasingly subjected to market concerns over quality. In the absence of recognised standards, resolution of market access issues relating to food safety of ‘ava has remained a key challenge for exporters and regulators.

To address this, PHAMA has been collaborating with authorities and stakeholders in Samoa to introduce quality standards and complementary activities such as quality assurance systems. Similar support has been extended towards Vanuatu and Fiji which also have their own ‘ava quality standard and manual. This has become a good starting point in ensuring that livelihoods and the cultural significance of ‘ava is protected and access to existing markets maintained.

PHAMA has also supported efforts to gain the Codex Commission’s endorsement to develop a regional ‘ava standard. While the regional ‘ava standard may take some time to finalise, the approved quality standards in Samoa, Fiji and Vanuatu will go a long way in restoring market confidence by demonstrating adherence to an agreed standard.

The work on achieving ‘ava quality through the standard and regulation is complemented by other activities being delivered by PHAMA in Samoa, including gaining certification under a systematic preventive approach to food safety known as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point or HACCP system. This support from the PHAMA Program on ‘ava quality is being coordinated through the Samoa Market Access Working Group (MAWG).

For further information, contact Kirifi Pouono at k.pouono@phama.biz or on +685 7785244

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