The idea of the project is to link buyers and sellers of fruits and vegetables on the island of Tutuila, the main island of American Samoa, which will streamline efficiencies for both groups.
Publications, updated frequently with the latest information, can serve as a clearinghouse for retailers, consumers and producers on American Samoa, allowing each group to know the needs and capabilities of the other. To serve as that clearinghouse, the SARE-funded project team determined it would publish two directories, one a marketing directory that lists potential buyers of island fruits and vegetables, and the other a producer directory that lists growers of vegetable and fruit crops.
The American Samoa Marketing Directory, Volume 1, published in June 2001, lists 46 retail stores, restaurants, fast-food outlets, hotels/motels and other businesses. Included are their telephone numbers and the types of local agricultural products they are buying.
The American Samoa Local Producers’ Directory, Volume 1, also published June 2001, lists 68 local producers, their phone numbers and the type of fruit and vegetables they can supply consistently.
The directories allow producers, marketers and consumers to interact directly, providing benefits to all and allowing producers to expand their marketing opportunities. The directories will be updated quarterly.
Gathering information for the directories presented hurdles distinctive to American Samoa where two languages, English and Samoan, are spoken. The problem was solved by sending out the surveys using both languages and publishing the directories in both languages.
Another difficulty evolved from the packaging of produce for sale (it is sold in a variety of ways such as piles, bags, baskets and the individual item) and determining a price per pound. Attempts were made to weigh the produce during the markets themselves, which proved to be disruptive to the vendors and buyers alike. It also violated proprietary concerns of the vendors. As a result, the price information has been dropped from the publications, being shared only between the project team and the local department of agriculture.
In identifying the types of produce they need, businesses provide producers with a better idea of what they should grow to meet markets demands. The input can also help them identify potential niche markets. Among potential products for these niches are red radish, chayote, okra, rambutan and durian.
FARMER ADOPTION AND DIRECT IMPACT
Farmers and merchants surveyed say the idea has merit. However, given the recent distribution of the directories, it’s too early to assess their effectiveness.
FUTURE RECOMMENDATIONS OR NEW HYPOTHESES
The project team suggests that if they were to do it over, they would eliminate the market price survey.
DISSEMINATION OF FINDINGS
The interviews conducted to compile information for the directories and their distribution have been the primary forms of outreach. In addition, the project team prepared an article on the project, discussing the benefits of the directories, to submit to local media.
Sixty-eight producers were involved through their participation in the survey.