Tonga Launches Pilot Sustainable Agricultural Project

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Technical cooperation project with Thailand could expand

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Feb. 2, 2016) – Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala launched a pilot agricultural development project at the Royal Estate, the Villa, today Tuesday 2 February. The Thai supported project aims to demonstrate sustainable agriculture to Tongans.

A technical cooperation between the Kingdom of Tonga and Kingdom of Thailand, the project will run for three-years to be carried out on 8-acres of land that has been made available at the Villa with future expansion to the Mataki'eua part of the Royal Estate.

Losaline Ma’asi, CEO of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forest and Fisheries (MAFFF), said the project will include the growing of various fruit crops, fruit trees and will extend to initiatives such as fish farming ponds.

She said this project would be similar to Chinese projects that had been piloted in Tonga with the Ministry, aimed to assist food security and livelihood of local families.

"Some local families have established piggeries with biogas that provides for home gas for cooking and hot water, vegetable gardening as well as raising of livestock like chickens and ducks mainly for consumption but they have also generate incomes from these activities."

Thai expertise

Mr Singtong Lapisatepun, Deputy Director-General and Head of Delegation of theThailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA) that is funding the project, said four activities implemented would include the provision of equipment and materials, dispatch of short term Thai expert and volunteers to Tonga and technology transfer including training of trainers.

"It is my great honour to be in Nuku’alofa again for the launching of this project based on sufficiency economy between the Kingdom of Thailand and Kingdom of Tonga."

Tongan had expressed an interest to implement this agricultural development cooperation, during a meeting in Canberra in 2014 between the TICA Director-General and the Tongan Embassy headed by Princess Angelika Tuku'aho, Tonga’s High Commissioner to Australia accredited to Thailand.

It is expected this pilot project will lead to the set up of a learning lentre for sustainable development based on a Thai model of "sufficiency economy" in Tonga.

Theproject was initiated earlier by HM King Tupou VI during his time as Tonga's Ambasasdor to Thailand, followed through by Princess Angelika. The implementing partners include TICA, the Palace Office and MAFFF.

"Sufficiency economy" came from a Royal initiative in Thailand in the 1970s under HM King Adulyadej.

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