Find Agriculture expertise in Tonga
Agriculture, forestry and fisheries contributed around 20% of Tonga’s GDP in 2010. In 2012 43.1% of land was given over to agriculture. Between 30% and 40% of employment is accounted for by the agricultural sector. Tonga’s main crops consist of vanilla beans, black pepper, coffee, ginger, yams, coconuts, taro, bananas, sweet potatoes, fish and manioc. The principal export crops are squash, fish, vanilla beans and root crops, which are mainly exported to Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa and South Korea. In 2007 meat production was 2,200 metric tons, produced by large commercial style properties operated by the nobles and by smallholder farmers who raise livestock for subsistence and as a form of wealth .The Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Forests and Fisheries is the public sector body responsible for the agricultural sector.
Historically the Tongan agricultural sector has responded quickly to overseas crop demands and has experience of providing crops for overseas market. Squash production which flourished during the 90s and 00s was environmentally damaging and latterly declined, although it is still an important agricultural product. In terms of exports the squash has now given way to other crops and agro-processing produce for export including tomatoes, watermelons, juice, sauces and frozen chips. The Asian Development Bank (ABD) attempted to stimulate agricultural sector growth in Tonga through the Outer Islands Agriculture Development in Tonga project which aimed to increase productivity on the outlying islands and to increase exports. The project was deemed unsuccessful as the issue of transportation between the islands was not addressed, although communication was improved through the installation of telephone lines. The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) funds the Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative (PARDI) which is designed to further research and reveal development and export opportunities in the region.