She’ll wake up one of these days and find she’s turned into a Tongan: Agricultural Trade in the Kingdom of Tonga

  • Teena Brown Pulu

Abstract

In November of 2012, the Government of Tonga announced it had put $1 million Tongan pa’anga into setting up a fund for exporting taro, tapioca, watermelon, and yam targeted for sale on the New Zealand market.  It took three months for this public notice to reach independent media, getting published by local news outlets in February the following year.  Tongan farmers in villages and districts made no rush to grab the state’s money.  It was in fact a loan that had to be repaid and was not intended for them.  The middle men, meaning export businesses that bought produce from farmers to sell overseas were the benefactors.  The development logic unfolded: If the middle man borrowed from the government to pay the farmer for his fruit and vegetables, he could trade these commodities with the New Zealand importer, thus, making money to pay back the loan as well as earning a profit.

The selling point was overseas trade.  Exports could resuscitate the broken farming industry gagging for air in the broke Kingdom of Tonga.  In reality, it did not look to happen how the Tongan state imagined their plan would take off.  What was difficult about trading taro, tapioca, watermelon, and yam to New Zealand?  These were crops that had established niche markets as tropical produce on the New Zealand market.  Inside this small island developing state would the real impediment please stand up?

Published
2013-01-30
How to Cite
Brown Pulu, T. (2013). She’ll wake up one of these days and find she’s turned into a Tongan: Agricultural Trade in the Kingdom of Tonga. Te Kaharoa, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.24135/tekaharoa.v6i1.65
Section
Articles