A learning journey to the Kingdom of Tonga

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Nutrition
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Pacific Island countries suffer from alarming rates of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and are consistently ranked as the most obese and diabetic in the world. At the centre of this NCD crisis is the underlying problem of consumption of processed imported foods; high in fat, salt and sugar, displacing nutritious local produce; crops and fish from the daily meals of Pacific people.

In order to help address this problem, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA), in collaboration with MORDI Tonga Trust, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO), organised three activities in the Kingdom of Tonga from 3 - 6 December 2018. The integrated four-day event was held under the theme Transforming Nutrition-Sensitive Value Chain Development in the Pacific Islands within the framework of the CTA/IFAD/PIPSO Innov4AgPacific project. The overall objective of which is to “Strengthen the capacity of Pacific Island countries to develop strategies and programmes that would increase accessibility of poor rural peoples to nutritious and healthy foods”. 

Over 80 delegates from the Innov4AgPacific seven target countries Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu representing a diversity of occupations, including students, farmers, agripreneurs, ministry representatives, processors, experts and NGO leaders attended the official opening ceremony. The three activities held concurrently were the ‘Pacific AgriHack Lab’, the ‘Innov4AgPacific Learning Journey’ and the ‘Tonga National Roundtable’.

Around 25 participants took part in the Innov4AgPacific Learning Journey where they were given tours of various agricultural and fishery enterprises around Tonga. It provided an invaluable opportunity for participants to speak with different stakeholders, exchange ideas, and observe the full food production chain from plantations to packaging plants. 

The 2018 Pacific AgriHack Lab brought together finalists in the regional competition to identify and further develop existing or new ICT applications for agriculture and agri-business/value chain development in the Pacific. The highlight of the event was the final day of presentations where participants each pitched their ideas and innovations in front of a panel of judges. Far from just being a competition, the event included a two-day workshop to develop the business skills of the ICT innovators and the finals served as a useful regional forum for sharing information on how ICTs can be used to improve the livelihoods of Pacific Island farmers and fishermen.

In the Tonga National Roundtable, delegates evaluated and discussed the Tonga National Action Plan (TNAP) and four thematic Regional Action Plans to promote nutritious food systems in Pacific Island States. These were formulated in 2018 with the aim of strengthening the capacity of farmers and fishermen and improving value chain performance. Metuisela Falesiva, Head of the Food Division in Tonga’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Forests and Fisheries (MAFFF) presented the TNAP.