10 Jul 2013

Organic farming helps Tonga's poor

3:09 pm on 10 July 2013

The Tonga National Youth Congress says organic agriculture is helping families rise out of poverty and grow the local economy.

Oxfam New Zealand and the Tonga National Youth Congress have been working together to equip the outer islands and some isolated islands to produce their own export quality virgin coconut oil.

The chairperson of the Tonga National Youth Congress, Drew Havea, says they started the Virgin Coconut Oil units in very remote islands first, because these are the poorest areas.

He says people are not only financially benefitting, their attitudes have become more positive.

"They were saying hey, this is the first Christmas we didn't have to ask for money from our relatives from overseas, we've covered all our school fees for our children, we didn't have to ask for money. We are energising them to do more in the community, where they feel before there was nothing else they can do, they see the potential, I think they can dream about better things which was not there before."

Drew Havea says they are working towards their first export shipment in September, with more than 200 young people involved, and more than 1,000 families benefitting from coconut sales.