Royal presentation acknowledges Tongan pearl industry achievements
Thursday, 07 November 2013 09:34

The Tongan pearl industry’s outstanding achievements in value adding local pearls and producing new sought-after pearl products were recognised during a special awards ceremony at this year’s Vava’u, Royal Tongan Agricultural Show headed by His Royal Highness King George Tupou VI and sponsored by the Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative (PARDI) project.

PARDI is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the Vava’u, Royal Tongan Agricultural Show is an annual government-run event that celebrates the country’s local agricultural and tourist industries and helps educate visitors about the value of industries including fruit and vegetable farming, fisheries, forestry and animal husbandry.

For the first time in the Tongan pearl industry’s history, six local pearl farms and pearl jewellery craftspeople put on displays including excellent examples of a number of half-pearls or ‘mabĂ©’ of superb quality and numerous examples of products that involve skilled and innovative craftsmanship. To acknowledge local pearl farmers and the talented local craftspeople, the awards were categorised as ‘Best pearl farming operation’ (based on farm structure and management) and ‘Best pearl jewellery and handicraft display at the show’.  Awards were also given to first and second runners-up in both categories. 

Mr Poasi Ngaluafe (Head of the Tongan Ministry of Agriculture - Aquaculture Research and Development Section) lead the judging panel, and the awards were donated by ACIAR through PARDI. 

King Tupou said that he was ‘particularly impressed by the quality of the pearl products on show and with the level of international support being directed towards developing this important industry’.  According to PARDI pearl project leader, Professor Paul Southgate, the pearl industry’s displays at the event reflected the many impressive advances being made by locals. “The range and quality of pearls and value-added pearl products at this year’s show was quite significant,” said Prof Southgate.

Australia has assisted the development of the Tongan pearl farming industry over several years through dedicated research and development projects and through the PARDI 2010 initiative “Supporting development of the cultured pearl industries in Fiji and Tonga”. 

Recent emphasis through PARDI to build the industry’s production capacity and improve the quality and diversity of pearls and the associated handicraft industries has resulted in considerable growth in the local handicrafts sector.   

For more information contact Paul Southgate: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

To read a recent pearl blog (Paul Southgate a key contributor) go to:

http://aciarblog.blogspot.com.au/2013/06/in-field-mabe-baby-commemorating-world.html

Photo caption: HRH George Tupou VI presents a prize to Halelujar Pearl Farm with Fisheries Minister and other local officials in the background.