20 Nov 2013

Samoa trade commissioner looking to improve system for taro exports

11:30 am on 20 November 2013

The Samoan Trade Commissioner to New Zealand says he is focusing on improving the efficiency of importing taro from Samoa.

Fonoti Dr Lafitai Fuatai says there's a number of industries that are trying to break into the New Zealand market, including fashion labels and beer, but he says taro is his top priority given the current issues with quarantine.

Fonoti says boosting agricultural imports is a struggle because Samoa is a high-risk country in terms of produce coming to New Zealand.

"So every time a taro container comes to New Zealand it has to be fumigated and you know, a six-sided inspection is what is carried out by MAF, and that takes a lot of time and that will have an impact on the shelf-life. So that's the main issue we are trying to deal with now."

Fonoti says he is aiming to establish a well-resourced quarantine office in Samoa and pre-clear shipments from there to enable more speedy passage on arrival at New Zealand ports.