Agriculture and Food Technology

Agriculture and Food Technology

IRETA Training & Activities

  • Institute for Research, Extension and Training in Agriculture (IRETA)

    IRETA is one of the six Institutes of The University of the South Pacific (USP), set up in the 1980’s to complement agricultural development efforts of the South Pacific Region. IRETA is located within the USP, Alafua Campus- Samoa, and has maintained strong collaborative relations with the School of Agriculture and Food Technology (SAFT) and the national governments of the Pacific- ACP countries.  IRETA has also been a long serving Branch Office of the CTA-Netherlands (Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation) for the Pacific region and has worked closely in partnership with several international donor agencies and programs, such as USAID-SPRAD, USAID-CAD (Cornell and University of Hawaii), EU-PRAP, the Commonwealth Secretariat, Republic of China (ROC/Taiwan), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), ACIAR and others.


    IRETA:  To undertake programs in agriculture that will address the expressed needs of the USP member countries in the areas of research, information, agribusiness, consultancy and training.

    FARM:  To develop the Alafua Agriculture Farm to semi-commercial level while providing access to students and staff of SAFT for practical training and research.


    The Institute for Research, Extension and Training in Agriculture (IRETA) and Farm under the current structure of USP, belongs to the Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE).


    • IRETA and Farm partakes in the SAFT Academic Program by hosting students on their practical classes.
    • IRETA and Farm’s vision is to strengthen the livelihood of the Pacific community through sustainable agricultural development programs.

    The following staff contributed to the success of IRETA and Farm operations in 2016:

    1. Mohammed Umar – Director IRETA & Farm
    2. Oliver Cris Ubaub - IRETA Farm Manager
    3. Senira Su’a – Secretary
    4. David Leniu -  Accounts Officer
    5. Uga Luaupu - Technician, Livestock Supervisor
    6. Faaolataga Amosa - Head Printer/Labourer
    7. Aneliueta Lave - Farm Labourer, Piggery
    8. Moeao Paisa - Farm Labourer, Sheep & Goat
    9. Faanu’u Lameko - Farm Labourer, Cattle
    10. Faraimo Mapusua – Farm Labourer, Poultry
    11. Fatuai Tavui – Farm Labourer, Poultry
    12. Sunema Fulu Iosia – Cleaner/egg grader
    13. Labourer, Crops – Vacant (3)



    Egg Production:

    • There has been a steady increase in egg production over the past 3 years that has improved the farm income significantly. Egg production for 2016 has increased with the installation of layer cages to 2 out of 10 poultry houses at the farm.  There are 720 cages in House 10 which accommodate 1440 layers and 708 cages in House 9 which accommodate 1390 layers.  The Poultry Unit now has an estimated 10,579 layers, culled layers 1,345 and 2,995 growers. 

    Piggery and Other Livestock:

    • All animals have been tagged and recorded:
    • Pig numbers have increased in 2016 (116 pigs including different classes).  Any further increase in numbers will require investment to build a new piggery. There is great opportunity to increase pig production in Samoa.

    Cattle, sheep and goat numbers have also increased (cattle 27; sheep 48 and goat 21). The main purpose of keeping these livestock is to provide research support and student practical training.

    §  From Jan-Nov, 2016, the IRETA Farm earned an estimated $752,663.10; this amount includes proceeds from the sale of layers, pigs, poultry manure and eggs.

    Farm Infrastructure & Asset Improvement:

    • Significant improvement has also been done to farm facilities including new air conditions to the tissue culture and soil laboratory. Installment of new layer cages in house 9 and 10 of the poultry unit. Renovation of farm office which includes installation of new windows, tiles, paint and office sink. Repairing of fencing and pasture development for cattle. The greenhouse was renovated; repairing roof and new door installments. 

    Farm Crops:

    • Planted a variety of fruit trees (366), root crops (taamu, taro, cassava – 249 altogether), native trees (73), spices (100) and vegetables (350) for the major crops project in showcasing different agriculture practices and varieties of crops planted in the School of Agriculture.  Most of the vegetables like egg plants, lettuce, coriander, celery and basil have already harvested and sold.


    • Vocational Practical Training of Agriculture Students
      • The installment of cages have allowed the students to do further projects and studies on poultry egg production. By renovating the greenhouse, a PhD student was able to use it for research project and has now completed. Renovation of farm office has helped students serve their farm practical in a better environment - - cleaning of eggs, packaging and labelling. The clearing of prickly pear and Solanum torvum weeds at the cattle and sheep/goat paddocks and upgrading of pipe lines and water tanks in the poultry unit and piggery unit.  This has allowed both SAFT academic staff and students to undertake more research and practical training.
      • A major project was approved to showcase different kinds of crops planted in the IRETA Farm.  This project started in April and continuously being maintained throughout this year. IRETA fields were divided into 4 sections. 3,174m2 land areas was covered in Section 1 (16 coconut, 135 taro, 69 passion fruit, 30 abiu, 8 rambutan, 8 avocados, 12 sweet sop, 15 guava and 24 hybrid coconut). For Section 2, 12 Tahitian limes and 21 rambutan covered 630m2 land area (a continuation of an existing Tahitian lime plot). Section 3 covered 560m2 land area of 50 kava, 50 taros, 50 taamu and 14 cassava; 231m2 land area of vegetables and herbs (50 lettuce, 50 eggplant, 50 celery, 50 basil and 50 coriander plants). Spices covered 112m2 land area (50 chilly and 50 ginger plants) of Section 4. The vegetable and spices plot were planted by the students of AG266 and AG164 courses as part of their practical classes. Further planting was continued during the semester break as part of the students AG384 practical course. 15 Guava was intercropped between a coconut hybrid plots that already existed. The students were divided into 12 groups of three and prepared plots of cabbages, spring onion and long bean as their practical assessment and plot was further used by AG364 class. Clearing, maintaining and replanting to areas where plants died was also done during this time. The planting continued occasionally when students come for AG384 practical. All native plants, ornamentals and remaining fruit trees were planted during the study break and after exams by AG384 students. Section 3 and Section 4 was mainly used for all the planting.



    • Providing support to AG383 core course that students work on projects with IRETA staff and the Farm. The students do their projects either at the livestock or the crops section.
    • Providing support to SAFT staff on research projects.
      100  Cobb day old chicks arrived from NZ on March 18, 2016 for Senior Lecture, Dr Diarra’s project.  Name of the Project is “Substituting corn with ta’amu in the diet of young chicks”
    • Assisting student with AG384 Vocational Practical Experience.
      • The course requires students to serve practical at the crops, poultry piggery, sheep goats and cattle sections.
      • Students also serve practical at SAFT’s various labs such as soils, Crop Science, Animal Science and Tissue Culture.


    Trainings Conducted:

    • National Training:
      •  32 local participants from Taveuni Is in Fiji attended a training workshop on “Improving Taro Production and Export from Taveuni” from Nov 28 – Dec 2, 2016. This training was funded by the University of the South Pacific in collaboration with ISTRC-PB.
    • Institutional Collaboration:
      • 6 NUS Students came to USP Alafua as observers and to gain working experience at the fields of computer operating, management and tourism. One student was assigned to Farm Management and learns of record keeping and stock taking (MS Excel).


    The newsletter not only transmits agricultural information it has also been used to advertise our services over the years. We also have a growing number of interested recipients of our newsletter. The information provided in the newsletter is very useful to a large group of audience as it covers stories from around the Pacific on a wide subject area.

    South Pacific Agricultural Newsletter (SPAN):

    • The Publications Unit continued to produce and distribute the 11 issues of the regional newsletter covering the latest developments, technologies and information on agriculture at all levels.
    • This year we have already published on monthly basis and distributed to a global network 10 issues of SPAN.  Issues for the months of October/ Nov/Dec were combined as one final and comprehensive issue.
    • Journal of South Pacific Agriculture (JOSPA):
      • Agricultural journal JOSPA has been submitted to the research office for Ranking.
      • The Soil Conservation and Land Management for Samoa Manual through the “Strengthening Multi-Sectoral Management of Critical Landscape in Samoa Project” with MNRE and USP as consultants, has been finalized and published. The manual was compiled by Mohammed Umar and Prof. Anabella Tulin which consists of interviews and results on soil conservation and land management during the project visits to Savaii, Upolu, Manono-tai and Apolima-tai.

     Capacity Building

    • ISTRC-PB, President, Associate Prof Umar participation at the World Congress on Root and Tuber Crops (WCRTC) in Nanning China, Jan 2016.
    • The American Samoa Community College (ASCC) visitation to the IRETA Farm (Livestock) on 8th March 2016.  Final year students under the Associate Science (AA) degree  program in American Samoa visited the Poultry area and had the opportunity to ask questions e.g., the type of breed used and how they will go about when starting a poultry farm. They also visit the Piggery section, Sheep, Goats and Cattle.
    • Director IRETA, Associate Prof Umar and Prof Tulin had a meeting with MNRE project staff on June 17, 2016 at the MNRE office regarding the results of the soil analyses of the various soil samples that were collected in Savaii last March 16-19, 2016.
    • Students from the National University of Samoa (NUS) visited the IRETA Farm (Livestock), Lab and the Crops Section on Friday, April 8, 2016.  These students are enrolled in the Foundation Agriculture Programme (HAG 041) and one of the requirements is that all students visit respective areas relating to Agriculture.  All these students aim to further their studies here at the SAFT, USP.
    • Members of the USP Council visited the USP on May 16, 2016.  SAFT and IRETA staffs as well as students presented seminars followed by the tour trip to the Farm (Livestock, Crops and Students Project).
    • Dr Sarah Burkhart and her colleague from the University of Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia had a meeting with HOS/ Director IRETA on June 16, 2016 - - collaboration between USP and USC Project.
    • Director IRETA/HOS and Dr Poasa Tabuaciri had a meeting via video conference on June 20, 2016 with the representatives from the University of Sunshine Coast and ACIAR.
    • Key preliminary soil survey findings and manual was presented on Aug 12, 2016 (MNRE, UNDP, MAFF, NUS, SROS and WIB staffs).  This findings presented are the results of the soil analyses of the various soil samples that were collected in Upolu, Manono and Apolima Islands on July 26-29, 2016.
    • Boys United in Leadership Development (BUILD) is a Peace Corps initiative, based on programs provided by volunteers in other countries, that aims to provide young men with the skills they need to be effective leaders.  Year 7 and Year 8 students from various Primary Schools in Samoa together with Peace Corps Samoa volunteers and adult community representatives came to USP for this visit. The main goal of the conference, including the different visits such as coming to USP Alafua, was to encourage the young men to lead through positive example and to share the knowledge and experience gained at BUILD with their school, village and faith communities.
    • IRETA staff attended the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries, Upolu Island Agriculture Show on Oct 13-14, 2016.
    • Director IRETA/HOS met with Dr. Itzhak Gerberg, Ambassador of Israel on 2nd Nov 2016. The Ambassador is based in Wellington, New Zealand. The meeting discussed available research opportunities and training in the fields of agriculture in Israel, as well as the possibility of inviting experts from Israel as short-term trainers or extension officers in a non-formal, non-academic or practical technical teaching.
    • The Prime Minister of Cook Islands, Honourable Henry Tuakeu Puna and Pro Chancellor and Chair of USP Council, Mr. Winston Thompson had the opportunity to visit IRETA Farm and SAFT facilities on Nov 25, 2016.  They had a look at the cage and deep litter systems used at the farm and some of the activities such as egg grading, packaging and labelling.


    • Promotional materials such as posters, display boards and banners were prepared to enable a more effective marketing strategy.
    • IRETA Farm was showcased as one of tour stops for schools, farmers, NGOs, SIT students from America’s at the USP Alafua Open Day. The farm received highly positive feedback among students, teachers of Samoa and private sector representatives.
    • Promoted IRETA & Farm by putting up displays during the USP Alafua Open Day and USP Savaii Open Day.
  • International Society for Tropical Root Crops (ISTRC)

    International Society for Tropical Root Crops (ISTRC)

    President remarks

    The ISTRC has now entered it’s 51st year in serving the global root and tuber crop community. There have been a number of positive events for the ISTRC since the last newsletter. Firstly, the 1st International Symposium of the Pacific Branch was successfully held from 24 to 27 April, in Nadi, Fiji. It was a very successful first Symposium and marked an important milestone in the South Pacific region. Mohammed Umar and Professor Satish Chandra organised the Symposium, and Dr Rup Singh, Editor on the ISTRC-PB Council edited the submissions. We have some important events to look forward to. From 22 to 25 October 2018, the 18th International Symposium of the ISTRC will be held in Cali, Colombia and kindly hosted by CIAT. Plans are underway so please support this symposium. The ISTRC has given its logo a golden appearance to celebrate our 50th and golden anniversary last year in 2017. We hope you like it. Finally, please do feel free to contact the ISTRC Council members if you need any information about root and tuber crops and do feel free to interact with everybody on the ISTRC FaceBook Group. I hope you enjoy reading this newsletter and thank you for supporting the society.

    Keith Tomlins

    President of the International Society for Tropical Root Crops, Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, Chatham Maritime, Kent, ME4 4TB, UK Tel: +44 (0) 1634 883460 E-mail:







    On June 16th, the Crops and Livestock Sections of the Institute of Research Extension and Training in Agriculture (IRETA) displayed several crops and farm animals during the USP 50th Celebrations and OPEN DAY. Mr. Oliver Ubaub, IRETA farm Manager and his team brought down a few farm animals (Poultry, Pigs and Sheep) from the farm for display and placed them in small paddocks the team constructed outside of the Animal Science Laboratory. The display site was crowded with tours from different schools and visitors. Mr. Ubaub and his team presented excellent demonstration and explained to the students the different areas at the farm such as the Cattles, Sheep section, Piggery section and the Poultry section. Also, the students and visitors had the chance to view and acquire new information about the different types of methods that can be used when planting specific crops. The farm (crops) products were on special prices sale for the Open Day.

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