Agriculture ministry hopes the initiative will stop people buying fatty imported meat.
The authorities in Tonga are delivering thousands of free chicks and ducklings to communities across the country to encourage people to cut down on fatty imported meat.
The Pacific nation is trying to combat its well-documented obesity problem, blamed largely on the population’s unhealthy dietary choices. At least 10,000 baby ducks and chickens have been sent to villages across the archipelago and a discount on animal feed is also being offered, the agriculture ministry says.
Church leaders are chipping in to provide free wire fencing so that new bird owners can keep their brood safe, Radio New Zealand reports. “The whole thing is trying to reduce the imports of fatty chicken,” says Viliami Taufa, a technical advisor at the agriculture ministry. “It is a huge problem here because of the fat that’s in chickens that are imported.”
A third of the Tongan population now has type 2 diabetes, according to the government, and the country’s life expectancy for both men and women has fallen in recent years.
Health officials have been trying to make it easier for Tongans to afford healthy food, announcing a discount on fresh fish earlier this year. In 2016, the government increased taxes on tobacco and fatty meats – including cholesterol-laden turkey tails.