Watermelon exports

Watermelon warning: Tonga’s worrying wet weather harvest

But forecasters say more stable times are ahead in coming months. 

Kafoika Lautaimi exports watermelon and squash from Tonga. 

“In the beginning of the year there was hope to export more to overseas markets,” he says. 

“The first watermelon consignment was damaged because of too much rainfall.  

“The second wasn’t able to be exported so it remained in Tonga in the local markets. 

“We have markets available and reliable exporters but we cannot supply their needs because of weather conditions.” 

Tonga’s watermelon growers furious over shipment debacle

Ten containers of watermelons were scheduled to be shipped to New Zealand on 5 December.

However, the trucking companies assigned to transport the melons to the wharf in Tongatapu did not arrive to the growers' farms to pick up the produce, as RNZ Pacific Correspondent Kalafi Moala explained.

"The government, in particular the Ministry of Agriculture had organised for the trucks to come pick up the melons and so the fact that it didn't happen over the weekend, the responsibility falls back on them," he said.

Hopes Tonga melon trade to NZ back in a fortnight

Trade was halted a fortnight ago when fruit fly were found in melons from Tonga during bio-security checks in New Zealand.

With an audit underway into what happened, Minoru Nishi of Nishi Trading said the sector is hoping to be back in business as soon as possible.

He said they have just unloaded 100 tonnes of watermelon meant for export on the domestic market in Tonga with another 400 tonnes likely in the next week.

Mr Nishi said the ban is hurting a lot of people, but it is an opportunity to work more closely together and put improvements to the system.

Watermelon shortage predicted as biosecurity concerns hold up Tongan supply

Imports of the fruit from Tonga were halted last week after live fruit fly larvae were detected at the New Zealand border on a consignment of watermelons from the country.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said there would now be an investigation into the non-compliance by the Ministry of Agriculture Food, Forestry and Fisheries in Tonga.