Australia helps Tonga Grow
Tonga Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano and Australian High Commissioner Thomas Roth today commissioned a backup generator for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forests and Fisheries (MAFFF) fumigation facility, which will help Tongan farmers export their produce and generate much needed revenue and income for the people of the Kingdom.
“The generator will significantly reduce the risk of damage or loss of produce if there is a failure of the main power supply while fumigation treatments are being conducted. The generator will also help to ensure on-going market access under current import protocols for Tongan agricultural exports, and reduce associated export risks,” Mr Roth said.
The $T90,000 110kVA generator has sufficient capacity to supply power to the fumigation facility and the blast freezing and chilling units associated with the post-harvest facility. The generator also has the capacity to service several power supply points that are used to maintain refrigerated containers prior to loading produce for export.
Providing growers and exporters with a reliable power supply for fumigation, freezing and refrigeration of agricultural produce helps build confidence in the market for Tongan exports, and drives greater demand for these products.
Importantly, MAFFF will enter into an agreement with exporters to fund on-going operation and maintenance costs for the fumigation facility through a system of user charges. This will help support the overall sustainability and operation of the unit.
“This is a great step forward, as a reliable arrangement to fund operation and maintenance costs it is essential to ensure the generator is always in good operating condition when it is needed.” Mr Roth said.
PHAMA is an AusAID funded initiative operating in five Pacific Island Countries (including Tonga) providing practical and targeted assistance to help these countries improve their rural economies. In Tonga, PHAMA helps support growers and exporters gain access for new produce into new markets, as well as helping to manage issues associated with maintaining existing market access and trade links.
The PHAMA Program was launched in Tonga on 31 May 2011. Since that time PHAMA’s major focus has been to strengthen the watermelon export pathway to New Zealand. This has resulted in watermelon shipments to New Zealand of 130 tonnes per annum for the 2010 and 2011 watermelon seasons. This is projected to increase to increase between 200 to 300 tonnes for the current season.