TONGA SQUASH CROP DOWN BY 50 PERCENT

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NUKU΄ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Oct. 1) - Tonga will export only 5,000 tons of squash this year, a more than 50 percent drop from the 10,215 tons that it exported last year.

The industry is fighting for dear life after a record low returns from its last year's squash export.

At the beginning of this year’s growing season the Tonga Squash Council was targeting to export 6,355 tons, but the Secretary General of the Tongan Squash Council Stephen Edwards said that this year’s crop was affected by the sunny weather, and therefore a low yield of 5,000 tons.

He said the major contributing factor to the low quantity of squash that was produce this year was many growers have encountered huge losses and where shying away from the industry. The squash this year was grown entirely by the export companies and the government, which has 100 acres.

Despite the small tonnage, Stephen was hopeful that they could fetch a better price per kilogram, comparing with last year.

The Tonga Squash Council in the beginning of the season targeted to export about 6,355 metric tons but because of the low yield there will only be two shipments this season to Korea and Japan.

Stephen said the first vessel will arrive in Tonga this weekend, and they are targeting to ship 2,500 tons.

The second vessel will come later in the month and will remain in Nuku’alofa until all the squash harvested are loaded.

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