NEW ZEALAND PLACES TEMPORARY BAN ON TONGAN PAPAYA

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NUKU‘ALOFA, New Zealand (January 21, 2000 – Radio Australia)---New Zealand has suspended the import of papaya (pawpaw) from Tonga because of a fungus and blackspot disease scare.

The New Zealand government has assured Tonga's Ministry of Agriculture that the temporary ban will be lifted after an investigation to verify the reports and resolution of any disease problems are concluded.

Tonga exports two species of papaya, Sunrise and Waimanalo, to New Zealand.

Meanwhile, preparations for the beginning of the squash season are underway in Tonga.

Exporters are planning meetings to discuss ways of improving market opportunities with growers.

The industry was hit hard last year because Tonga's foreign markets, primarily Japan, were oversupplied with stocks from other Pacific Islands, forcing prices to drop.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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