The United States is helping to support Tonga after a volcanic eruption and tsunami earlier this year. The ashfall from the eruption has caused food safety problems.

The U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance has given $300,000 to help restart agriculture and fisheries by aiding local farmers and fishermen.

Belgium has donated $400,000 as part of the initiative led by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Ashfall impact
Recovery efforts will ensure improved food safety and security of communities impacted by Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano eruption and tsunami in January. They will also assess food safety through a better understanding of the longer-term impacts of ashfall. Ash can have toxicological and poisonous effects on plants, livestock and fish, as well as on human health because of consumption of foods from affected areas.

According to initial damage assessments, 80 percent of crops were affected by the tsunami in communities on Tongatapu, Ha’apai and ‘Eua. Thousands of square kilometers of crops and farms were damaged or destroyed by the tsunami and ashfall. Livestock also died because of the undersea volcano eruption and resulting tsunami.

Four people died and about 60,000 are facing food insecurity, according to FAO reports.

The FAO plans to support about 3,000 agricultural households including farming, livestock-raising and fishing operations, which represent a quarter of all subsistence agriculture households in the country.

Action includes restarting crop production, protecting the remaining livestock by emergency veterinary treatment and farm supplies, and restoring small-scale fishing.

“FAO has been tirelessly collecting and reviewing information on agricultural production and previous emergency, and resilience assistance provided to Tonga is being examined to obtain a picture of what agricultural and fisheries activities were taking place before this twin disaster, so we may already consider what the likely needs are,” said Kara Jenkinson, FAO emergency and resilience coordinator for the Pacific.

Helping Egyptian exports
The FAO is also supporting Egyptian authorities and the private sector to strengthen compliance and reduce the rate of rejections in export markets.

Efforts, with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), focus on pesticide management and microbial contamination in the fruit and vegetables sector.

Exporters, suppliers and farmers of strawberries, tomatoes, grapes, citrus, and medicinal and aromatic plants took part 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 pesticide application. It also included best practices on preventing microbiological contamination, as well as standards for use and management of microbial control agents.

“There are key benefits from helping the private sector strengthen food safety practices across the supply chain. It will help alleviate the risks and costs around companies’ exports and assist in building a strong, sustainable and inclusive agribusiness sector,” said Mohamed Mansour, principal banker of agribusiness at 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) were also involved.

“We are ready to work with all stakeholders to align Egypt’s food safety standards with changing international markets and to support efficiency across the export-oriented value chains. We see that it is vital for all workers across the supply chains to feel ownership and responsibility for their products and to communicate best practices and requirements at each step of production and processing, specifically exporters to their farmers at field level,” said Abdel Hamid Demerdash, chairman of AEC.

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