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Experts to show Tongan farmers how to make animal feed

NUKU΄ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Nov. 25, 2008) - The Governor of the Shaanxi Province in central China, Mr. Yuan Chunqing and eight member members of his provincial government are currently in Tonga at the invitation of Tonga's Prime Minister to explore the possibility of producing animal feed for Tongan livestock, including pigs, chicken and ducks.

This morning Chunqing and his delegation met and exchanged gifts with the Prime Minister Honorable Dr. Feleti Sevele at the Prime Minister's Office.

Governor Chunqing told the Tongan Press that one important objective of their trip was to see how they could assist Tonga in processing their own animal feed by making it from local resources such as taro, sweet potato and tapioca.

"I personally believe your locally produced potato and taro can become very good animal feed that can be processed for local farms. And I feel confident in this cooperation and sincerely hope it will be successful in the future," he said.

The delegation's first trip to Tonga is a response to a request made by the Tongan Prime Minister in April last year, when he asked for technical assistance and exchange in the livestock industry during a trip to China.

The Governor said Shaanxi is a province strong in its livestock industry with a yearly yield of 10 million pigs. "We also have very good technology in the pig breeding farm and China's one and only agriculture high tech demonstration zone is located in the province.

"We had a very good discussion with the Prime Minister and when I go back to China I would send a small group of technicians to explore the way of how we can conduct the assistance in this field," he said.

The Prime Minister told the visitors, "One of our problems is that we cannot produce our own animal feed so we tend to rely mainly on feed from overseas, this is evident in our poultry industry and their feed is mainly bought from New Zealand."

"Tonga spends over 20 million pa’anga [US$9.8 million] on the importation of meat products every year, if we can save half of that in terms of our foreign exchange we can put money back to the producers who are producing local meat so an assistance in this area is a huge potential for Tonga," he said.

The delegation will visit livestock farms in Tongatapu, including a pig farm to talk with farmers on how they can provide assistance, as well as having talks with the Ministry of Agriculture.

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