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Encouraging Tongan tropical fruits production

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19 October 2010 In 2006, a feasibility study was conducted by ACIAR (Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research) in response to interest from the Tongan government to improve the domestic supply of tropical fruits at a subsistence and local trade level with some longer term potential for export income.

The scope of the study includes identifying what is in Tonga including native food plants, identifying what is worthwhile to introduce by importing seed and plants of potential from overseas; developing and steering nurseries for public sales; as well as planning gene collections & demonstration plots to have nursery material available and assess plant growth."

More importantly, the study found significant scope to increase the production of the Tongan fruit industry and thus increase household income levels, with opportunities for import replacement, growth of the existing domestic market and, in the longer term, Pacific Inter-island trade, and export to New Zealand, Australia and other regional markets.

Since then, the project has made significant progress since its inception with the main aim to encourage fruit availability in amount, quality and variety of fruits for Tonga both in backyards and markets.

Fruit production can be improved in a number of different ways, namely introducing new fruit species and/or varieties, replacing fruit imports where appropriate, and exporting fruit, where good markets are identified. To this end, the project aims to increase the production, productivity and technical capacity of the Tongan tropical fruits industry with an emphasis on the local market.

Activities include introduction of new improved cultivars of tropical fruits both from repositories and collections currently in the country and from a range of new tropical fruit species from Australia.

The priority fruits included citrus, papaya, breadfruit, lychee and canarium nut.

This will take place along with development of production packages and improvements in the capacity of Tongans to propagate, produce, harvest, package and market fruit.

Today, the project has less than half a year before completion. Funded by the ACIAR and SPC with two staff have been in position since 2008, within the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFFF) and at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) within the Information, Communication and Extension team of the Land Resources Division (LRD), the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forestry and Fisheries has also benefited significantly from the extensive knowledge and infectious enthusiasm of the project resource person, Roger Goebel.

Goebel added that, "the main focus has been to develop information for growers and consumers which includes producing databases for enhanced records management, as well as providing training activities for MAFFF staff and others in fruit tree production and management."


Issued by the: Ministry of Information and Communications, Nuku'alofa, 2010.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 07 June 2011 22:56 )  

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