The United States is helping support Tonga after a volcanic eruption and tsunami earlier this year. Ashfall from the eruption caused food safety issues.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Humanitarian Aid Office has donated $300,000 to help revive agriculture and fisheries by assisting local farmers and fishermen.
Belgium has donated $400,000 as part of the initiative led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Impact of ash fall
Recovery efforts will improve food security and safety for communities affected by the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano eruption and tsunami in January. They will also assess food security through a better understanding of the longer-term impacts of ashfall. Ashes can have toxicological and toxic effects on plants, livestock and fish, as well as on human health due to the consumption of food from affected areas.
Initial damage assessments indicate that 80 percent of crops were affected by the tsunami in the communities of Tongatapu, Ha’apai and ‘Eua. Thousands of square kilometers of crops and farms were damaged or destroyed by the tsunami and the ashfall. Livestock also died due to the eruption of the underwater volcano and the resulting tsunami.
Four people have died and around 60,000 face food insecurity, according to FAO reports.
FAO plans to support around 3,000 farming households, including farming, livestock and fishing activities, which represent a quarter of all subsistence farming households in the country.
The action includes restarting agricultural production, protecting remaining livestock with emergency veterinary care and agricultural supplies, and restoring small-scale fishing.
“FAO has been tirelessly collecting and reviewing information on agricultural production and the previous emergency, and the resilience assistance provided to Tonga is being reviewed to get a picture of agricultural and fisheries activities that were taking place before this double disaster, so we can already consider what the likely needs are,” said Kara Jenkinson, FAO Emergency and Resilience Coordinator for the Pacific.
Helping Egyptian exports
FAO is also helping Egyptian authorities and the private sector to improve compliance and reduce rejection rates in export markets.
Efforts, with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), focus on the management of pesticides and microbial contamination in the fruit and vegetable sector.
Exporters, suppliers and farmers of strawberries, tomatoes, grapes, citrus fruits and medicinal and aromatic plants participated in training on pest and disease control and pesticide residue management. Egypt is one of the biggest exporters of oranges in the world.
The training introduced guidelines to show how to control pests and diseases and manage the application of pesticides. It also included best practices for preventing microbiological contamination, as well as standards for the use and management of microbial control agents.
“There are key benefits to helping the private sector strengthen food safety practices throughout the supply chain. This will help mitigate the risks and costs associated with business exports and contribute to building a strong, sustainable and inclusive agribusiness sector,” said Mohamed Mansour, Senior Agribusiness Banker at the EBRD.
Egyptian agencies such as the National Food Safety Authority (NFSA), the Central Administration for Plant Quarantine (CAPQ) and the private sector through the Agricultural Export Council (AEC) have also been involved.
“We stand ready to work with all stakeholders to align Egypt’s food safety standards with developments in international markets and to support efficiency across export-driven value chains. We find that it is vital for all supply chain workers to feel ownership and responsibility for their products and to communicate best practices and requirements at every stage of production and processing, especially exporters to their farmers on the ground,” said Abdel Hamid Demerdash. , President of the AEC.
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, Click here.)