Growing Tonga’s exports through enhanced fumigation services

Exporters in Tonga will soon benefit from improved access to timely fumigation services following a new partnership signed between the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forests (MAFF) and the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Plus (PHAMA Plus) Program.

Supported by Australia and New Zealand, PHAMA Plus is working with MAFF to enhance the capacity and efficiency of its fumigation services by revising the existing facility’s operational and safety procedures while also piloting new types of fumigation equipment and protocols.

Fumigation is the process of treating goods or commodities to eliminate potentially harmful pests before they are shipped to international markets. In Tonga, fumigation ensures that key export commodities like watermelons can comply with mutually agreed import health standards and maintain market access.  Tonga can also use fumigation to manage the risks associated with incoming cargo.

Tonga primarily exports watermelons to New Zealand, with smaller amounts going to Samoa and American Samoa. However, taking full advantage of this market is constrained by a number of factors including lack of access to freight and fumigation services.

MAFF Chief Executive Officer Dr Viliami Manu said increased fumigation capacity was needed to fully utilise the available air and sea freight capacity, particularly during the peak watermelon season in Tonga which runs from August to December.

“MAFF currently owns and operates a single fumigation chamber, which is a modified 40ft sea container, approved for treatment that can only treat a maximum of around 11 tonnes of watermelon per fumigation cycle. Through this partnership, MAFF’s fumigation capacity and efficiency will be enhanced, and that will enable Tongan exporters to fully utilise available freight services, resulting in increased exports and incomes,” said Dr. Manu

PHAMA Plus is also working with the PACER Plus Implementation Unit to assess the feasibility of re-activating MAFF’s High Temperature Forced Area (HTFA) facility at the Fua’amotu International Airport, to offer a new site for fumigation service provision.

“More fumigation capacity can help exporters to make the best use of available freight options, comply with phytosanitary requirements, coordinate with freight schedules and place their watermelons on the market as quickly as possible to protect shelf-life and quality,” PHAMA Plus Country Manager Tonga, Tevita Lautaha said.

PHAMA Plus has been working with MAFF since 2011 to maintain and improve existing market access, and create new markets for Tongan agrifood export products by developing the capacity of public and private sectors to meet export market requirements.


For more information, please contact PHAMA Plus Country Manager, Tevita Lautaha on

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