The Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forestry & Fisheries (MAFFF)
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forestry & Fisheries (MAFFF) works closely with other government bodies to preserve and protect agricultural resources and the environment. Their vision is to achieve excellence in project planning and coordination in this area while promoting profitable agriculture and private sector confidence, with the ultimate goal of enhancing the quality of life for all Tongans.
The Tongan Pearl Industry Development Plan (TPIDP)
Pearl farming has been identified as having the potential to be one of Tonga’s most valuable export industries. Drawing on the country’s resources, pearls are highly valuable and their development is not only compatible with traditional lifestyles and the marine environment, but their development can provide employment and flow-on benefits to the Tongan people. The Tongan Pearl Industry Development Plan (TPIDP) has defined a clear path for increasing the pearl industry’s current position to become a major industry worth in excess of TOP$5 million per annum within five years. The plan has received support by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) who began work on the initiative in 2010, the James Cook University, the University of the South Pacific (USP), and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).The TPIDP puts forward Tonga’s move to specialise on the mabé (or “half”) pearl and therefore differentiate itself from other Pacific pearl producing nations. To achieve this, together with the goals of the TPIDP, commitment is needed from both the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forests and Fisheries (MAFFF) and the pearl farmers of Tonga represented by the Pearl Farmers Association (TPIA).
The Fisheries Division of the MAFFF
The mission of the Fisheries Division of MAFFF is to contribute to better living standards for all, in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner. Pearl farming is an environmentally benign and completely sustainable form of aquaculture. The development of a successful and diverse pearl handicraft industry will contribute significantly towards the MAFFF’s mission by providing a major source of income and employment for the people of Tonga.
The development of improved and diversified pearl and pearl shell products and the training of appropriately skilled artisans are critical to the success of the TPIDP. As such, the volunteer will work with the Aquaculture Section, in the Fisheries Division of MAFFF and with a number of associated handicraft and business enterprise programmes to train and support pearl artisans to deliver new and improved pearl products.