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Thursday 1 September 2016 | Published in Regional


samoa – Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has warned that food security in the Pacific is being eroded as people move to the towns and rely on cheap imported food.

About 120 delegates are attending the three-day conference 2nd Pacific Agribusiness Forum in Samoa’s capital.

Tuilaepa told growers, manufacturers, restaurant and hotel owners at the Apia conference that the influx of imported food had contributed to health problems for islanders.

“Consumption of fruits and vegetables is low and vitamin and mineral deficiencies widespread,” he said.

“We often experience food-borne illnesses which compromise the ability of Pacific food products to meet export standards.”

Talks at the Apia conference are also focussing on developing local markets for both economic growth and the improvement of nutrition and food security.

The forum comes two months after a World health Organisation-backed report on the state of nutrition around the world put Pacific island countries at the top of malnutrition statistics.

Pacific countries made up eight of the top ten countries with the highest prevalence of adult obesity, with Palau topping the list at 80 per cent of its population.

Helen Palik, a technical officer for Nutrition and Diabetics in PNG, said there was a big gap in food education in the region.

She identified food security issues as one of the contributing factors behind the Pacific’s malnutrition problem.