4 Oct 2013

Concerns over safety of vegetable supply in American Samoa

7:45 am on 4 October 2013

The Department of Agriculture in American Samoa is concerned about the territory's school lunch programme, which feeds 18,000 children, because they can't confirm what chemicals one of the main suppliers uses.

The Department says most of the country's vegetable crops are controlled by Chinese farmers now, as locals are opting to lease their land to them.

The deputy director Pete Gurr says many of them have work permits but aren't meant to be farming.

He says they can't be sure if the foreign farmers are using only approved pesticides because they don't buy them from the Department and they don't have a laboratory to test them.

"Most of the Chinese are farming for the store, they are pretty much controlling all the bush stores on the island, and the school lunch programme too, we're talking 18,000 kids, and not only that our consumer here on the island, we have about 67,000 people live on the island."

Pete Gurr says they are going to meet with Immigration and says it becomes a Homeland Security issue when illegal workers are supplying the food they eat.