3 Oct 2008

Tonga to increase local fruit production

2:27 pm on 3 October 2008

A project launched in Tonga this week aims to make a significant contribution to local food production and improve people's health.

The results of a study carried out three years ago has shown the need to increase the production of the Tongan fruit industry.

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research funded the study which was used to formulate a follow up three year project on Tongan Tropical Fruit Production.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community's coordinator of genetic resources, and manager at the centre for Pacific crops and trees, Dr Mary Taylor, says the project is more than just about tropical fruits and increasing production.

She says it's also about raising awareness on the importance of eating the right foods.

"That's where the awareness has to come in so we can't just say we have to grow more food there can't be a provision of more money there also has to be an awareness thing and again it's across the board agriculture, it's health and nutrition it's environment cause if we grow our own food and stop importing so much and it contributes to the global warming climate change etc etc etc"

Dr Mary Taylor says Tonga has a high rate of diabetes and heart disease.