Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he fully supports the ma’afala breadfruit project as a means for economic development in American Samoa. In a letter to Governor Lolo M. Moliga, with copies to the Lieutenant Governor, the President of the Senate and Senators, the Speaker of the House and Representatives of the Fono, and Director of the Department of Commerce Keniseli Lafaele, Faleomavaega urged the administration’s consideration and emphasized the need to thoroughly review the ma’afala as a possible means to diversify the territory’s economic base.
In a letter dated February 14, 2013, Faleomavaega wrote,“Long before the tragic events of September 29, 2009 and Chicken of the Sea’s announcement the following day that it would shut down its operations in American Samoa, we have been acutely aware of the need to find new sources of jobs and income for our people. Now more than ever, we must explore every possible opportunity to create jobs and diversify our local economy.”
“As you are aware, you and I both have experienced the measure of this challenge for our people and government over the past decades. Going forward, I would like to strongly recommend to you the ma’afala breadfruit project which I believe will yield tremendous opportunities as a means to diversify and strengthen economic development for our territory.”
Faleomavaega also highlighted the abundance of research and expertise available on the ma’afala, specifically the efforts of Dr. Papali’i Tusi Avegalio and his staff at the Pacific Business Center Program (PBCP) at the University of Hawaii (UH).
The Congressman also shared his current understanding of the project and potential benefits of ma’afala development including the growth of the gluten-free market in the U.S and the potential for ulu flour usage in gluten-free products, support of the agricultural industry as well as manufacturing and processing jobs, the related benefits of the soa’a banana and other local crops for similar development, and the usage of breadfruit as a natural source for sustainable food security, disaster assistance and recovery.
“Before the private sector can make a major investment in this new industry, the American Samoa Government (ASG) needs to conduct an immediate review…” Faleomavaega stated. The Congressman concluded his letter by stating,” I hope you will seriously consider this economic development project as a high priority in your administration, and that we will all work together to make this important development a reality.”