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By Samiu Fotu

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (November 10, 1998 - Tonga Times)---Just over 7,000 tons of squash pumpkin have been shipped to Japan so far this season, 5,000 tons short of earlier projections.

The shortage is blamed on prolonged periods of drought during the first planting period, causing damage to many of the plants.

FIMCO has shipped the largest tonnage this year by a single export company 2,029.5 tons, yet this is only half of their projected 4,000 tons.

IPC came closest to their projected tonnage of 1,000 tons. They shipped 897 tons.

Other companies include: MBM - 242.5 tons (1,250 projected); Touliki - 1,152 (1,500); Squash Export Company (SEC) - 950 (1,250); Ha‘amo - 1,767 (3,000).

Touliki and SEC provided the best service to the growers in terms of payment. They were the only two companies to pay their growers immediately after their squash passed the quarantine inspection.

Prices started out at .60 seniti per kilogram and ended up at .70 seniti per kilogram.

Growers for several companies have complained, however, about the time it has taken for them to bet paid. Many are still waiting funds due even though their squash reached Japan long ago.

For additional reports from the Tonga Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/ Tonga Times.

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