Aust gives $1.59m for support project

THE Government of Australia has provided $A1 million ($F1.59m) in additional financing to the ongoing Samoa AgriBusiness Support Project designed to boost the South Pacific nation’s economic performance by addressing challenges hindering increased trade and export.

The project, cofinanced by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the governments of Australia and Samoa, was launched in May 2015 and provides access to finance and tailored business support services to agribusinesses in the country.

“We depend on agriculture to help develop and grow our economy,” said Lavea Tupa’imatuna Iulai Lavea, CEO of the Ministry of Finance.

“Agribusiness partnerships and promotion of commercial value chains in increasing and sustaining economic productivity are key priority areas for us.”

Agribusinesses are often family-owned enterprises, mostly involved in agro-industrial processing of local raw materials such as taro and coconut, supplied by smallholder families. Agribusinesses are, therefore, critical for stimulating agricultural production and sustaining local employment generation.

“Private sector development continues to be important in catalysing sustainable and inclusive economic growth in Samoa,” said Emma Fan, regional director of ADB’s Pacific Liaison and co-ordination office in Australia.

“By partnering with commercial banks and addressing the constraints that hinder access to finance, the project can help agribusinesses expand and create more jobs for the community.”

The project has now partnered with four commercial banks to provide suitable and affordable financial services to participating agribusinesses. With project support, increased willingness to provide sustained commercial funding to the agribusiness sector in Samoa is anticipated.

“Enabling economic growth is a key priority of Australia’s aid program and our aid for trade focus. In supporting Samoan agribusinesses, this project increases economic opportunities for farmers, families, and communities,” said Australian High Commissioner Sue Langford.

The project has been performing well for the past 12 months, providing advisory services and assistance to obtain commercial funding to medium size businesses.

The supported agribusiness segments include cocoa, coconut, root crop, and poultry farming.

ADB has been working with the Government of Samoa since 1966 and has approved $186.19 million in loans, $122.97 million in Asian Development Fund grants, and $32.06 million in technical assistance.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration.

Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members-48 from the region. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in cofinancing.

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