The Kingdom of Tonga is a remote, low-lying archipelago in the South Pacific.
Tonga has a highly vulnerable small island economy and is susceptible to natural disasters. Its isolation and small, scattered population create economic difficulties including high transport costs and limited markets. Unemployment in rural areas is alarmingly high and wealth remains unevenly distributed. There are very few salaried employment opportunities for young people and there is a high level of outward migration. Remittances from workers in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States make up 30 per cent of the GDP, but as the global recession has taken its toll, less money is coming into the country.
Tonga is a constitutional monarchy undergoing political reforms. The country is slowly inching towards full democracy and addressing issues of representation, accountability and transparency.
Oxfam is currently supporting one project in Tonga.
Tonga National Youth Congress (TNYC) is Oxfam’s local partner in Tonga. Established in 1991, TNYC is a Tongan civil society organisation that works with youth aged 14-35 to encourage and empower their talents and creativity.
TNYC is the national focal point for organic farming in Tonga, promoting and developing income generation opportunities through the Future Organic Farmers of Tonga (FOFT) programme. In partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, it provides training, farm demonstrations and monitoring and evaluation of agricultural activities.
TNYC raise awareness of the benefits of organic farming and provide support and advice on local and international marketing strategies. They also coordinate a network of organic organisations in Tonga. Collective action means that organic growers can be more effective in lobbying the government for support.
Oxfam and TNYC work to ensure that organic farming is sustainable for farmers by providing equipment, expertise and funding to growers. We provide training in farm and business management, education on organic pesticides and composting, and opportunities for farmers to share knowledge and lessons learned. Organic, sustainable agricultural methods have a positive environmental impact as they preserve soil quality and support Tonga’s commitment to reducing the impact of climate change.
TNYC staff saw the opportunity to sustainably utilise the once discarded shells from the coconuts used to make coconut oil, and hire youth to turn them into Tongan handicrafts and carvings. Read the story of Sione who, though he paralysed both legs seven years ago, found a sustainable source of income through this project.