5 Feb 2009

FAO encourages Pacific root crop flour production

4:02 pm on 5 February 2009

The United Nations Food Agriculture Organisation says it is encouraging more Pacific states to manufacture their own flour from traditional root crops, instead of importing it.

A company in Samoa, Natural Foods International Limited, is now exploring the possibility of producing flour for the domestic and international market.

The FAO's Food and Nutrition Officer in Apia, Dirk Schulz, says it's an ideal product for Pacific countries to develop.

He says certification shouldn't be difficult given many staple crops are grown organically in the islands, and that root crops can be utilised in so many ways and turning them into flour is catching on.

"Root crops grow very well in the islands. And there is one small setback to root crops that is, after they are harvested, their shelf life is very short so they tend to spoil very quickly and you need to eat them shortly after harvest. So one of the methods of overcoming that, is to dry them and turn them into flour which of course is very popular at the moment because of the rising prices of imported flour and rice, so its certainly one way you can add value."

Mr Schulz says apart from Samoa and the Marshall Islands, Vanuatu has been exploring the use of cassava to make flour and Kiribati is experimenting with breadfruit.