17 Feb 2010

Threat of food shortages in Tonga due to crop devastation after from Cyclone Rene

9:14 pm on 17 February 2010

Officials on the Tongan island groups of Vava'u and Haa'apai are warning of possible food shortages after Cyclone Rene devastated crops.

The two island groups were hit by Rene at its peak when it was a Category Four cyclone.

The secretary to Haapai's Governor, Kepu Ioane, says significant damage has been sustained to crops in the island group and this could cause major problems within a couple of months.

And the secretary of Vava'u's disaster management committee, Masina Tuitupou says almost all the crops and fruit trees there were also damaged by the cyclone.

"The fruit trees, for example like the breadfruit, the mangoes, the banana family, they are 95-100 percent all damaged. I think it can be forecast that there be some shortage of food in the future."

Masina Tuitupou says they are currently relying on sweet potato for food.

Tonga's Disaster Management Office says the government will act if there is a threat of food shortages, but says it will decide how to respond once an assessment of cyclone damage is completed by the end of the week.