More Tongan fresh produce will be exported to international markets with the opening of new pack houses in Tonga.
This should make a big difference to farmers who will be able to sell their crops and other products for export to New Zealand, said Edgar Cocker, CEO of Tonga’s Ministry Commerce, Trade, Innovation and Labour.
The hope is for the pack houses to boost economic prosperity for local communities through exporting their local produce.
Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) New Zealand Trade Commissioner Michael Greenslade met with Tonga Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Innovation and Labour officials Tevita Lautaha and CEO Edgar Cocker in December 2017 to discuss the developments. PTI NZ has shared a close ongoing working relationship with the Tonga Government.
“PTI is absolutely delighted the Tongan Government has stepped into the agricultural sector to give some control and guidance which will lead to greater returns for Tonga’s growers,” Mr Greeenslade said.
“We are 100 per cent behind the pack house project and wish Tevita and Edgar all the best in this new venture,” he said.
The Government of Tonga secured around $1.5 million pa’anga towards funding the project.
But the buildings were prompted by a key supply agreement.
Tongan officials struck a key deal in April 2017 after meeting with J & P Turner Limited, parent company of fresh produce importer Fresh Direct and other suppliers.
Although the initial deal would include food, fish and handicrafts as reported in online publication, Kanivatonga, Mr Cocker told Kanivatonga they would start by buying and exporting yams, arum, cassava, taro and watermelon.
The new pack house will be equipped with the latest packing equipment bringing it into line with international standards.
New pack houses are planned for building in Vava’u, Lapaha, Vaini, Houma and Hihifo in Tongatapu.
The new pack house was blessed by royalty when it was opened on the island of ‘Eua in December by His Majesty King Tupou VI. This was followed by several upgrades to meet the HACCP and international requirements.
J & P Turners has had a long association with Tonga and the agreement highlighted the strength of that relation said Mr Jeff Turner in a 2016 news item.
Turners are one of New Zealand’s biggest fresh produce buyers.
For more information please email PTI NZ trade Development Manager Joe Fuavao at firstname.lastname@example.org