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Let’s work to achieve food security

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Handover Ceremony of the farm tractors and fishing boats from Dongguan City, Guangdong Province, China, to the Tongan Government. 8 October, 2020.

Speech at the Handover Ceremony of the Farm Tractors and Fishing Boats from Dongguan City, Guangdong Province, China, to the Tongan Government on 8 October 2020.

by H.E. Cao Xiaolin, Chinese Ambassador, to Tonga

“It is my pleasure to attend the official handover ceremony of the farm tractors and fishing boats provided by Dongguan City, Guangdong Province of China to the Government of Tonga. The aid in equipment is China’s commitment to the cooperation in agriculture and fisheries with Tonga and China’s support to Tonga in response to Covid-19.

I learned that His Masjesty King Tupou VI went out an agricultural tour of gardens to observe food production in Tongatapu on 1st October. The purpose of His Majesty’s agricultural inspecting tour were to encourage the people to prepare to counter Covid-19, to balance the importation of food products, to secure local food production, etc. It goes without saying that His Majesty attaches great importance to food security in Tonga. Therefore, it is a good occasion for me to talk about food security today here in MAFF.

The Chinese Government and the Chinese leaders have treated food security as a top state issue for a long time. As the largest developing country in the world, China now has enough food to feed its nearly 1.4 billion people. China’s food security is a success of worldwide significance.

Over the past 22 years since the establishment of the diplomatic ties between China and Tonga in 1998, the bilateral friendly relations and cooperation have yielded tangible results. Particularly, the cooperation in agriculture has been very fruitful.

Looking back the past 20 years, we are very proud to see that agricultural productivity in Tonga has been greatly improved with more diversified, high-quality products. There are more leafy greens in the markets, and Tongan people have more balanced and healthier diets. All these positive changes can be attributed to the care from His Majesty and the good policies on agriculture by the Government of Tonga. They are also the results of the hard work of the Tongan people and the agricultural cooperation between China and Tonga.

To deepen the cooperation in agriculture is an important consensus on the further development of China-Tonga relationship reached between H.E. President Xi JinPing of China and H.M. King Tupou VI during His Majesty’s state visit to China in 2018.

To implement the above-mentioned consensus between the two heads of state has been an important work for me as the Chinese ambassador after I came to Tonga in January this year. My colleagues and I have been encouraging the Chinese experts in the China-aid agricultural expert teams to impart more practical technology and skills to the Tongan people. We have visited many communities and families in order to know well what they need for their production. The Chinese Embassy has provided financial support for them to cultivate vegetables, raise pigs and chickens. We are very happy to see many families are improving their standard of living with our assistance.

Education and equipment

The cooperation in agriculture has benefited the families across Tonga, and will benefit the future generations. I suggest that our two sides leverage the existing resources and tap further the potentials for cooperation so as to increase the agricultural and fishery production and achieve the goal of food security in Tonga. We can focus on the following four aspects: 

First, keep on teaching technologies. It has been proven that the Chinese agricultural technologies are very practical in Tonga. The China-aid agricultural expert teams are now working in Tongatapu, Vava’u and ‘Eua. They have gained the knowledge and experiences for the development of agriculture and livestock in Tonga. They teach and impart how to cultivate vegetables, raise pigs and chickens, grow tropical fruits, etc. Some women’s organizations and families asked the Chinese experts to help them grow vegetables and raise pigs. For this purpose, I hope that the Chinese experts will go to more communities to teach technology. I also hope that the Tongan people will go to the Chinese Demonstration Farms to learn the expertise. I will appreciate if the Ministry of Agriculture can coordinate and organize these activities.

Second, make full use of the farm and fishing equipment. China has provided dozens of farm tractors to Tonga over the past few years. Those tractors have helped improve the agricultural productivity and won acclaims from the Tongan Government and the Tongan people. Some cabinet ministers and members of the Legislative Assembly ask the Chinese Embassy to provide more farm and fishing machines. My suggestion is that MAFF consult all the constituencies and make best use of all this equipment. We will consider providing some more farm tractors and fishing boats to Tonga in our ability. 

Third, give more support to the communities. The management of community farm and family gardens is an important work to achieve food security. The lockdown measures in response to Covid-19 have had an impact on the social and economic areas. But thanks to the country-wide solid agricultural development at the community level, the Tongan families have enough food to support themselves, which highlights the importance of community agriculture and animal husbandry. The Chinese Embassy will continue to provide technical and financial support to those communities and families who need help so that they will make life better on their own.

Fourth, explore ways to export more agricultural products. Export of agricultural products can boost the agricultural development. The Tongan squashes, yams and some other products are quality, nutritious food and well-known in the world as well. We will work with our Tongan colleagues to turn Tongan agricultural products more competitive so that Tongan farmers and businessmen can make more profits by selling more products to China and some other countries.

It is a long-term and hard work for a country to achieve food security, especially for the countries facing the challenge of climate change. From a broader sense, food security is an essential guarantee for world peace and development, a significant foundation for global community of shared future. There are many reasons for closer cooperation in agriculture and fisheries between China and Tonga. I would like to assure our Tongan friends that China will continue to provide support in Tonga’s efforts to achieve food security.”

Hon. Lord Tu’ilakepa, Minister for Agriculture, Food, Forests and Fisheries and H.E. Cao Xiaolin, Chinese Ambassador to Tonga.
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