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Building the evidence base for the agriculture–nutrition nexus in Samoa

Rapid country scan for informing policy and practice

October 27, 2015

Food and nutrition security (FNS) is high on the global policy agenda. CTA has prioritised strengthening linkages between nutrition and agriculture as one of the three key areas for 2015 and beyond in ACP countries.

A rapid country scan commissioned by CTA and undertaken by the National University of Samoa (NUS) in 2015 provided an excellent opportunity for stakeholders to review the policies and programmes addressing food and nutrition security in Samoa. The findings were presented at the National Validation Workshop on 23 October. CTA was represented by USP-IRETA director, Mr Mohammed Umar, one of our key Pacific regional partners.

Priority nutrition concerns

The country scan focused on identifying gaps and potential entry points for CTA's follow-up work on strengthening the agriculture–nutrition nexus in Samoa with NUS and other strategic partners. The emphasis was on identifying existing nutrition capacity and the main nutritional challenges faced. For example, the study identified severe wasting among children 0-59 months (4%) and moderate to severe stunting (5%) in the same age group, high incidence of anemia in children under 2 and pregnant women with higher incidences in North Upolu and the rest of the Upolu island. The rapid scan also looked at initiatives that have been implemented to try to improve the nutrient intake of at-risk populations. FAKTS, a grassroots womens' organisation in Samoa, works in Upolu and with schools, including pre-schools. Hence, they provide a good entry point for CTA and others in efforts aimed at strengthening the agriculture-nutrition nexus and addressing priority nutrition concerns.

Despite government initiatives to encourage people to return to the land, agricultural activities are decreasing. Modern diets in Samoa, especially in urban areas, tend to lack fruit and vegetables and there is a growing dependence on imported food. 35% of Samoans do not eat fruit and vegetables because of the high price which can be associated with the stagnant performance of the agricultural sector (the contribution of agriculture to Samoa's GDP amounted to 10-11% in 2010).

Non-communicable diseases, especially cardiovascular diseases, are the leading causes of death in Samoa. The number of overweight people, especially children, in the country is a major concern. Improving the population's diet is a complex task that requires a coordinated, multidisciplinary approach.

Informing policy and practice

Potential entry points for CTA include working with NUS, NGOs and other partners to increase awareness on health and nutrition value of local foods, improve production efficiencies and availability of local indigenous fruits and vegetables rich in iron and vitamin, and helping to ensure the sustainability of training programmes for farmers and other actors in the value chain. Building on these existing initiatives in any of these areas and integrating metrics for tracking success would benefit the most vulnerable communities and improve food and nutrition concerns.


So far for this year, CTA has commissioned 18 rapid scans on the agriculture-nutrition nexus in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, in addition to the 10 country case studies on the food and nutrition security situation which were commissioned in 2014. The food and nutrition security rapid scans and case studies will soon be available as CTA Working Papers.