21 Oct 2020

Tonga audit underway into melon fruit fly infestation

9:57 am on 21 October 2020

The Tonga Government said it's doing its utmost to find out how fruit fly infected the country's melon exports to New Zealand.

New Zealand's Ministry of Primary Industries stopped watermelon imports from Tonga last week after live fruit fly larvae were detected at the border.

Water melon fruit bulk in fresh market, big ellipsoid-shaped and green colored tropical fruit

Photo: 123rf

The acting Chief Executive of Tonga's Ministry of Agriculture, Mana'ia Halafihi, said they have been talking with officials in New Zealand and have started an audit process to find out what went wrong.

He said the presumption was that the live larvae came from a farm and the fumigation process failed.

"Setting up this audit group so they do some investigations and try to identify and try to correct all these things instantly. And we are trying to work this out pretty soon in order to resume these export pathways," he said

Halafihi said they had been working closely with the biosecurity senior advisor at New Zealand's Ministry of Primary Industries, Nacaniela Waqa.

"We are having meetings with him, virtually, so he can direct us and we just work out there and try and set up these things and try and trace back and do investigations, and once we have this report we have to send it back for the MPI to approve it.

"He may come over here, probably on the 30th of this month and look at what we have done," Halafihi said.