During the Pandemic Mercy Ships delivered projects valued at over 3 million dollars to Pacific Nations, including much needed medical equipment and supplies. Mercy Ships is now focusing on other areas such as health infrastructure development, and general developmental projects, especially those that are related to improved health outcomes.
Traditional agricultural methods in Samoa involved the use of natural methods of pest control and soil fertilization, but the aggressive marketing of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, during the latter part of the 20th century and early 21st century, have led to an overuse of these products. Recent studies commissioned by the UN and caried out by New York University in partnerships with the Samoan Ministry of Natural Resources of Environment, have now shown there is an alarming level of these harmful chemicals present in groundwater, and in some cases are even detectable in seawater.
These excessive chemical levels, combined with the over consumption of highly processed foods is contributing to an alarming increase in cases of obesity. Whilst there are a few cooperatives, and some businesses producing natural/organic products, such Women in Business who produce coconut oil for The Body Shop. There is an urgent need to change the habits of the wider agricultural community.
Mercy Ships in collaboration with the United Nations Resident Coordinators office in Samoa, and other UN agencies, have developed a three-pronged approach to dealing with this problem.
1. Teach school age children the importance of a healthy balanced diet and show them how to grow their own fresh fruits and vegetables via the introduction of school gardens which utilize natural farming methods.
2. Create a national healthy agriculture program to train agricultural educators to reach out to the forming community in Samoa and teach them how to switch to non-harmful methods of fertilizing their crops and controlling pests.
3. Develop a Samoan based entity to certify organically produced products, so they can be successfully sold to international markets. This will not only assist with economic growth, but also provide an incentive for more farmers to adopt natural farming methods.