Critical Issues

The USDA's National Institute for Food and Agriculture, which funds ACNR research and extension programs, requires that those programs address critical issues identified by local stakeholders. ACNR programs focus on five critical issues.

Agricultural Sustainability and Food Security

Sustaining agriculture and food security is a unique challenge given American Samoa’s isolated location, limited land mass, traditional land tenure system, climate change challenges, frequent natural disasters, favorable environment for agricultural pests and diseases, ecological susceptibility to invasive species, heavy reliance on imported and processed food, resulting in high food prices. Research and extension programs and services are vital to addressing agriculture sustainability and food security critical issues.


American Samoa’s natural and managed ecosystems are affected by sea level rise, ocean acidification, and long-term changes in weather patterns due to climate change; major disruptions from frequent tropical cyclones and occasional earthquakes and tsunamis; and the establishment and spread of invasive plant and animal species. Prudent and informed land stewardship is essential to mitigate adverse effects from groundwater depletion and contamination, soil erosion, flooding, habitat destruction, loss of native trees, and the decline of coral reefs. Active local research and extension programs are essential to fostering wise stewardship of the territory's natural resources, mitigating invasive species impacts, and enhancing American Samoa's ecological and economic vitality.

Family and Community Resilience

Issues impacting family and community resiliency in American Samoa include poverty, parenting, Samoan culture, and youth-at-risk areas. Extension programs and services should be provided to address the challenges of poverty, parenting, Samoan culture, and youth-at-risk issues.

Health and Wellness

Childhood and adult overweight and obesity (OWOB) are risk factors leading to an alarming non-communicable diseases (NCDs) epidemic in American Samoa. Food safety is another health and wellness issue that needs to be addressed. Additionally, mosquito-borne diseases such as chikungunya, Zika, and dengue outbreaks have affected thousands of residents in American Samoa. Research and Extension programs and services will address the health and wellness critical issue.

Youth Development

Issues affecting youth development in American Samoa include youth at-risk areas such as juvenile crimes, drug and alcohol abuse, cigarette smoking, school dropouts, poor students’ performance in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) areas, childhood obesity, and maintaining social and Samoan cultural values. Extension programs and services will address the youth development critical issue.