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In January 2013 Dr Richard Beyer (SPC consultant) and Kuinimeri A Finau (SROS Manager PFTD) travelled to Auckland to scope possible venues for the taro sensory evaluation in March 2013. Mangere East Community Center was selected which was not only cost effective and well equipped with kitchen facilities but also easily accessible to panelists used for the research. During the Board and management retreat in early March 2013, SROS project team carried out the taro sensory evaluation for the local taro to screen the best varieties to be taken to Auckland. From this preliminary screening two farmers selection for cycle 6 were picked in addition to the two MAF selected varieties to be taken.

In March 2013 the above same team travelled to Auckland with Ms Luao Faatili (Professional Officer IRD) to conduct the sensory evaluation for five local taro varieties (2 MAF selection and 3 farmers selection) using the established Fijian Talo Niue as the benchmark and sixth taro. Twenty panelists were used to evaluate the taste of cooked taro as well as the appearance of whole fresh corms on two consecutive days. The results for the sensory evaluation was very promising for the local taro industry with three Samoan talo varieties coming out as front runners. The project continues with further work required for taro varieties nutritional composition analysis to complement the sensory evaluation work.

On the 23rd to 27th March 2013, the CEO of SROS Tilafono D. Hunter and Principal Research Scientist of the Environment and Renewable Energy (ERE) Division, Lilo Samani Tupufia were part of Samoa's delegation to the Pacific Energy Summit held in Auckland, led by the Honourable Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Lupeisolia'i Fatialofa Naioti Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi. The summit provided an opportunity for Pacific countries to present their energy plans for reducing the use of fossil fuels through public and private sector investments in renewable electricity generation and energy efficiency. It also presented a unique opportunity to network with other Pacific leaders, international donor and development agencies and financial institutions, gain and share knowledge of energy projects undertaken and implemented and showcase respective countries energy initiatives. As part of Samoa’s display, SROS showcased its biodiesel, bio-ethanol research findings as well as its international IANZ accredited laboratory technical capabilities having the capacity to analyse standards for renewable energy developed fuel.

On the 11th February – 7th March 2013, Siope Pele, Research Officer of the Plant & Food Technology (PFT) Division attended a training in Israel on Postharvest, Physiology, Pathology & Handling of Fresh Commodities. The course was organized by the Institute of Technology and Storage of Agricultural Produce of the Agricultural Research Organization (ARO) in cooperation with the Center for International Agricultural Development Cooperation (CINADCO). The course is part of the wide international activity of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation (MASHAV). The course objectives were

  • To understand the Physiological, Pathological and Environmental factors involved in the deterioration of fresh agricultural produce.
  • To learn postharvest technologies and best practices associated with the postharvest handling of fresh fruits and vegetables, to assist in the delay of senescence, reduce loss and maintain the best possible quality of the produce.
  • To initiate, research, teach and transfer knowledge to extension workers and farmers.
Siope delivered a presentation to the scientists group on his course sharing some of the lessons taught as well as skills acquired. He also provided all course materials to add to SROS’s information base for its research activities.