TO inform Members of the Agricultural and Fisheries Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly on ways to boost the agricultural sector is the purpose of a one day subject briefing for the MPs last week.
The Committee invited Koloti Seluini of the Young Farmer’s Federation Ltd for a presentation on their agricultural produce and its potential for economic activity and exports.
General Manager of the Tonga Development Bank Leta Kami also made a presentation on the Government’s Business Investment Incentive Fund that was launched in August last year.
It was aimed at attracting businesses to take advantage of the loan opportunities offered by one percent to four percent interest to priority sectors of the economy including agriculture, fisheries, livestock, forestry, tourism, manufacturing, construction and Retail and Wholesale.
The agricultural loan was increased from $20,000 to $50,000 last year and fisheries loans from $30,000 to $100,000 with both the repayment period increased from nine months to three years.
This is the first subject briefing for the MPs as part of the Legislative Assembly’s effort to help raise their level of understanding on agricultural issues so when such matter is raised in Parliament they are well versed with the subject.
The better informed they are on such issue will help MPs to provide fruitful and productive discussions in the House.
The briefing is also part of the Committee’s Terms of Reference that includes looking into and report on
i. marketing the agriculture and fisheries products,
ii. the economic position of agriculture and fisheries in the country’s development AND
iii. looking into the position of the private sector (exporters) on the development of agriculture and fisheries.
Meanwhile Members of Committee including the Chairperson Vili Hingano (Ha’apai 12 MP) , Penisimani Fifita ( Tongatapu 9 constituency MP), and the Hon. Minister of the Internal Affairs, Fe’ao Vakata visited the Young Farmer's Federation Ltd.'s plantation in Havelu last Friday.
The purpose of the site visit was for the committee to witness firsthand the agricultural produce of Young Farmer's Federation Ltd and its potential for economic activity and exports.
The 12 acre plantation is largely papaya and other vegetables such as tomatoes, capsicums, chilli and other local produce.
Committee Secretary Sulia Makasini reports that during their visit, the committee members learned about the different crops and different types/breeds being grown, harvest time, intercropping (growing different crops simultaneously), potential markets overseas for exports and learnt also about the key challenges faced by farmers.