Vegetable nurseries help with Tonga cyclone recovery | ABC Radio Australia

Vegetable nurseries help with Tonga cyclone recovery

Vegetable nurseries help with Tonga cyclone recovery

Updated 29 May 2014, 17:08 AEST

Back in January,  Tropical Cyclone Ian caused widespread destruction to Tonga's central and northern islands.  Worst hit was the Ha'apai island group, where hundreds of families lost their homes, and food crops were devastated. 

Now, affected communities in Ha'apai, as well as in parts of Vava'u are receiving help to recover and rebuild their crops.  Vegetable nurseries have been built in seventeen communities, with help from the MORDI Tonga Trust and the Ministry of Agriculture.

Soane Patolo is the trust's general manger, and he says the nurseries are helping communities which were outside the cyclone "red zone" but whose crops were still badly affected.  

Prior to the cyclone, these communities had already been affected by drought, and with the cyclone further damaging their crops their main concerns were over the loss of agricultural sector within the community.

"We needed to create a project that would assist these communities to rehabilitate their food source.  The Ministry (of Agriculture) designed a nursery project for the Red Zone of Ha'apai, while we designed a similar project but with a different approach."

Having a little more time on their hands, while the Government sprang into action in the red zone, MORDI took a little bit longer and asked an engineering company to do a technical design for a nursery.  Those nurseries have now been delivered and built in communities in seventeen communities; six in the Lulunga District of Ha'apai, and 11 in the Motu and Neiafu Districts of Vava'u.

The nursery structures are based on a cyclone house design, and it's hoped that they will prove resilient in the face of further cyclones and storms.  They come equipped with tools and seedlings, and the Ministry of Agriculture has been assisting with training.  

Tomatoes, carrots, capsicums and many other varieties of vegetables will be grown in the nurseries, and Soane Patolo says that there is also a plan to move into other commercial crops at the end of the vegetable season.  

"We're not only looking at food security here, we're also looking at livelihoods.  Those two things were affected during the cyclone (and) we're hoping maybe by using the nursery, growing the vegetables but also other crops, that will help the communities move forward and maybe get to a better stage than they were before Cyclone Ian."


Presenter:   Heather Jarvis 
Speakers:    Soane Patolo, General Manager, MORDI (Mainstreaming of Rural Development Innovation) Tonga Trust 



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