Photo Credit: FAO

THE Hon. Prime (PM) of Tonga has recently told the 36th Session of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific in Bangladesh, that agriculture is critical and key for Tonga’s sustainable and economic development.

Hon. Hu’akavameiliku made the statement during FAO meeting in Dhaka last Thursday (March 10). He stated that “Tonga firmly believes that agriculture is key to Tonga’s sustainable development, a key driver of Tonga’s economic development, key to poverty reduction and rural livelihood, key to adaptation to key to food security during this COVID-19 pandemic and key to building Tonga’s resilience to disasters.”

The PM who is also the Acting Minister for Agriculture also asserted the four-day gathering (March 8-March 11) that “food security and agriculture is a constant concern for the people of Tonga because it is currently ranked second in the world’s most at risk country to natural hazards.”

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office say Hon. Hu’akavameiliku added that Tonga is also ranked third as the world’s ‘most at risk’ country to the effects of climate change, with 80 percent of its population living on the coastlines.

He said while Tonga currently imports lots of food, especially protein products of meat and fish, the focus of the Ministry of Agriculture is to increase local food production of livestock, crops, and fruit trees for the local and export markets.

The PM also acknowledged FAO’s continued support in the last 50 years, including assistance given following the January 15 Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai marine volcano eruptions and tsunami and the current COVID-19 crisis in Tonga.

“Despite these many challenges, FAO has always been a key partner of Tonga for more than 50 years. The numerous FAO’s technical and financial assistances has always been instrumental, in Tonga’s development Food and Agriculture,” said Hon Hu’akavameiliku.

He also mentioned that “FAO’s timely and key assistances to our recovery programs from numerous disasters that occurred, including the recent volcanic eruptions has been instrumental in getting Tonga back to road recovery.”

Hon Hu’akavameiliku congratulated the FAO for convening the conference and thanked the government of Bangladesh for hosting it.

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