In a significant step towards sustainable agricultural practices and fostering a healthier lifestyle, Tonga has announced the successful launch of two Organic Learning Farms.
The two farms – Mahuleva farm in Tongatapu and Ovava farm in Vava'u – will be learning farm sites established in Tonga under the Pacific Organic Learning Farms Network (POLFN) project. POLFN is the first regional project of the Kiwa Initiative, a multi-donor programme that aims to strengthen the climate change resilience of Pacific Island ecosystems, communities and economies through nature-based solutions.
POLFN is managed by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Land Resources Division POETCom (Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community) initiative and works in four countries – Tonga, Fiji, Nauru and Solomon Islands – to develop the farm-based learning centres.
“The Ministry’s new main focus for the next 5 years is to transform Tonga’s food system as a solution to combat the multiple natural disasters that Tonga faces,” said the CEO of the Tonga Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Viliami Manu in his keynote address during the inauguration ceremony held at Mahuleva farm. “It is a nice surprise that this organic farm project has started one of the first steps in transforming Tonga’s food system.”
The launch was attended by local farmers, youth, and non-governmental organisations and showcased Tonga's commitment to the POLFN establishment. Both farms have a passion for empowering youth in their communities to be more engaged in agriculture. Mahuleva Farmer Navuso Tuaimeiapi remarked, “Empowering youth to take a leading role in shaping their future is another fundamental goal of Mahuleva Farm. We provide opportunities for young individuals to engage in hands-on farming experiences, fostering their skills and knowledge in sustainable agriculture. By offering mentorship programs and training sessions, we aim to equip the youth with the tools necessary to become the next generation of environmental stewards and community leaders.”
Speaking on behalf of the Kiwa Initiative, the French Ambassador to the Pacific, Mr. Francois-Xavier Leger highlighted the regional impact of Tonga’s endeavours. The Initiative is funded by the European Union, Agence Françe de Développement (AFD), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). KIWA is implemented in the Pacific by the Pacific Community (SPC), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Oceania Regional Office of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Following the Network launch, participants were invited to embark on an immersive tour of Mahuleva farm. The tour showcased the farm’s state-of-the-art facilities designed to facilitate teaching and organic farming practices. Visitors had the opportunity to witness first-hand the innovative methodologies that will serve as the cornerstone of Tonga's agricultural transformation.
POETCom is the peak body for organic movement in the Pacific region. It is a membership organization of farmers' associations, farmer support organisations, NGOs, private sector, and research institutions working with governments across the Pacific. POETCom is hosted by the Land Resources Division (LRD) of the Pacific Community (SPC) in Suva, Fiji.