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How the United Nations is Working to Prevent Hunger in Tonga

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the U.N. partnered with Tonga 30 years ago to focus on improving its agricultural policies and practices. The director-general of the FAO commented on the state of hunger in Tonga, saying that although the country is not in a state of distress, it is striving to create a more sustainable agricultural industry.

The FAO, in conjunction with government officials in Tonga, created the Future Farmers of Tonga program, which strives to promote greater youth involvement in agriculture. This program aims to teach young people how to manage a farm and market their agricultural products to the public, especially those living in impoverished areas. The FAO also supports the government-led national Food Security Coordination Cluster, which focuses on creating disaster preparedness plans and crisis response programs for the country.

Tonga has faced a deficiency in its fishing industry over the last several years, according to FAO officials. Fishing plays an important role in Tongan culture but is hurt by the vulnerable marine ecosystems in the area. To combat this problem, the FAO has tried to restore milkfish to the area in order to provide a source of both food and income to the rural areas of the country. The focus is on developing technology, producing better management strategies and improving business marketing, which in turn will improve the conditions to prevent greater issues with hunger in Tonga.

The developments that have been made over the last 30 years have helped decrease the percentage of children who experience stunted growth. According to UNICEF data, as of 2012, less than one percent of children under the age of five are stunted. In Pacific countries as a whole, the rate is two percent. The FAO says that it is still working with Tonga to help the country meet its goals for improvement, which include policy planning, supply chain efficiency, and environment management.

Helen Barker

Photo: Flickr