A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer

Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands



This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.

The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.

SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).




PAPGREN coordination and support

  • CTA
  • SPC
  • CEPaCT

     genebank locations
    Click on the thumbnail to see a map of the locations of Pacific genebanks. Click here to download a regional directory of genebanks in the Pacific, including information on their location, contact details and holdings.

    PAPGREN partners

    Mr William Wigmore
    Director of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture
    Department of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 96
    Cook Islands
    Tel: (682) 28711-29720
    Fax: (682) 21881
    Email: cimoa@oyster.net.ck

    Mr Adelino S. Lorens
    Agriculture Pohnpei
    Office of Economic Affairs
    P.O. Box 1028
    Pohnpei 96941
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Tel: (691) 3202400
    Fax: (691) 3202127
    Email: pniagriculture@mail.fm

    Dr Lois Englberger
    Island Food Community of Pohnpei
    Research Advisor
    P.O. Box 2299
    Pohnpei 96941
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Email: nutrition@mail.fm

    Mr Apisai Ucuboi
    Director of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forest
    Koronivia Research Station
    P.O. Box 77
    Fiji Islands
    Tel: (679) 3477044
    Fax: (679) 3477546-400262
    Email: apisainu@yahoo.com

    Dr Maurice Wong
    Service du Developpement Rural
    B.P. 100
    Tahiti 98713
    French Polynesia
    Tel: (689) 42 81 44
    Fax: (689) 42 08 31
    Email: maurice.wong@rural.gov.pf

    Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
    Head, Research Section
    Division of Agriculture
    Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development
    P.O. Box 267
    Tel: (686) 28096-28108-28080
    Fax: (686) 28121
    Email : agriculture@tskl.net.ki; Beenna_ti@yahoo.com

    Mr Frederick Muller
    Ministry of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 1727
    Majuro 96960
    Marshall Islands
    Tel: (692) 6253206
    Fax: (692) 6257471
    Email: rndsec@ntamar.net

    Mr Herman Francisco
    Bureau of Agriculture
    Ministry of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 460
    Koror 96940
    Tel: (680) 4881517
    Fax: (680) 4881725
    Email: bnrd@pnccwg.palaunet.com

    Ms Rosa Kambuou
    Principal Scientist PGR
    NARI Dry Lowlands Programme
    Laloki Agricultural Research Station
    P.O. Box 1828
    National Capital District
    Papua New Guinea
    Tel: (675) 3235511
    Fax: (675) 3234733
    Email: kambuou@global.net.pg

    Ms Laisene Samuelu
    Principal Crop Development Officer
    Crops Division
    Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries & Meteorology
    P.O. Box 1874
    Tel: (685) 23416-20605
    Fax: (685) 20607-23996
    Email: lsamuelu@lesamoa.net

    Mr Jimi Saelea
    Director of Research
    Department of Agriculture and Livestock
    P.O. Box G13
    Solomon Islands
    Tel: (677) 27987

    Mr Tony Jansen
    Planting Materials Network
    Kastom Gaden Association
    Burns Creek, Honiara
    P.O. Box 742
    Solomon Islands
    Tel: (677) 39551
    Email: kastomgaden@solomon.com.sb

    Mr Finao Pole
    Head of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture & Forests
    P.O. Box 14
    Tel: (676) 23038
    Fax: (676) 24271
    Email: thaangana@hotmail.com

    Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
    Head of Research
    Department of Agriculture & Rural Development
    Private Mail Bag 040
    Port Vila
    Tel: (678) 22525
    Fax: (678) 25265
    Email: flehi@hotmail.com

    Other links

    Other CROP agencies
    Forum Secretariat
    University of the South Pacific

    Pacific biodiversity
    Biodiversity hotspots
    Breadfruit Institute
    Hawaiian native plants
    Intellectual property rights
    Nature Conservancy
    WWF South Pacific Program

    Other Pacific organizations
    Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific
    Micronesian Seminar
    Te Puna web directory

    Pacific news
    Cafe Pacific
    CocoNET Wireless
    Island Directory
    Pacific Islands News
    Pacific Islands Report
    Pacific Islands Travel
    Pacific Time
    South Pacific travel
    Time Pacific

    Interested in GIS?



    Thursday, January 07, 2010


    From : Island Bussiness

    Better farms, better income

    Ivor Hanson

    The dozen or so men and women sitting at the rough-hewn tables in a large leaf hut in Honiara pondered their worksheets, sketched pictures of crops, trucks, ships and markets, and carefully answered their questionnaires on value chains and cost reviews.
    Earlier that morning, Heiko Bammann, an Enterprise Development Officer based in Rome with the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation, had impressed upon this group of Solomon Islanders the link between better farms and better income, sharing information, and pinpointing every step taken from seed selection to final sale.
    “What do farmers need?” Bammann had asked before detailing farmer-driven success stories in Papua New Guinea, Thailand and India. “They need to know what the market needs! They need to get their produce to the market!”
    Welcome to the new Kastom Gaden Association. Or, rather, the new role this Solomon Islands NGO is fashioning for itself.
    No longer just a resource to help its members get the best use of seeds, soil, crops and yields, KGA now emphasises marketing and sales margins as well.
    And no wonder: with Solomons’ food trade recently estimated by the AusAid-supported Community Sector Programme at $800 million, and the country’s population due to double in the coming decades to 1.1 million, the demand for food will be increasing—along with the chance to profit from it.
    At the two-day Value Chain Workshop last September—at which four provinces were represented—Kastom Gaden began implementing this new approach of getting farmer-members to regard their plots of land as a business. And themselves as not just producers but entrepreneurs.
    As FAO’s Bammann made clear: “The farmer has to be at the center of it all.”
    Founded in 1994 as a project of APACE, an Australian non-governmental organisation, 2009 marks 10 years since Kastom Gaden became one of this country’s first local NGOs.
    Tasking itself with “promoting self-reliance”, Kastom Gaden has made “improving the lives of rural people” its direct if daunting mission.
    And although the means by which Kastom Gaden seeks to achieve its goals—“strengthening food security and sustainable livelihood development”—echo mission statements adopted by other such players, what sets Kastom Gaden apart is its focus at the village level, what Tony Jansen, a founder of, and now an advisor to KGA, calls “our farmer-to-farmer approach.”
    Johnson Ladota, a Taro farmer from northern Malaita who has worked with KGA since 2003, bears this out. When the Value Chain Workshop ended, he looked forward to spreading the word on entrepreneurship to the highlands.
    Painful but necessary: “I see the chain,” Ladota said, “I see the market in a new way now. It is a new challenge for us, another challenge, but we can do it. We will organise ourselves.”
    In its own way, Kastom Gaden has faced its own challenges and has organised itself as well.After recently experiencing what co-founder Jansen calls a “painful but necessary” re-structuring that did away with a fragmented “to-and-fro” management approach, KGA is now in a position where it can “make the projects fit the structure and not the other way round”.
    Still, just as its members must now take on an entrepreneurial role to improve their incomes, so too must KGA to ensure its own future.
    In its 15 years of existence, Kastom Gaden has grown from having a few hundred farmer-members and a handful of staff, to now having over 2000 members and a staff of 22.
    In addition, it has 10 partner organisations in five Solomons provinces, works with the S.I. Planting Material Network, is a member of the Melanesian Farmer First Network, publishes newsletters, offers a library service, broadcasts nationally a weekly radio show—and has a budget of SB$4 million.
    Although Kastom Gaden has had a long relationship with Australia’s Agency for International Development—AusAid funded the Australian NGO that established Kastom Gaden, and is currently KGA’s major donor. Both sides recognise the risk of being overly dependent on one source of funding, what Paul Greener, a Honiara-based AusAid Rural Development Advisor, calls a “moral hazard.”
    Simply put, if an organisation wants to make the leap from being a donor project to becoming a social enterprise, it needs to broaden its funding base and open itself to various means of income.
    In regards to Kastom Gaden, such possibilities exist. KGA could pursue having a range of donors, with KGA’s Clement Hadosaia mentioning New Zealand and the European Union as potential candidates, along with Oxfam and the ICCO, both of which recently funded projects with them.
    Community Sector Programme Agricultural Livelihoods Advisor Grant Vinning cites successful marketing efforts by peanut, vegetable, and fruit growers, in particular a man known as Patterson the Pineapple Seller, who successfully covers his transportation costs by selling to shops, thereby making his sales at Honiara’s Central Market pure profit.
    “Solomons farmers are entrepreneurs-in-waiting,” Vinning says, adding, “Food Security is not just about growing food, but having the money to buy food.”
    KGA has bolstered its once vibrant, then faltering, fresh fruit and vegetables delivery business, “Farm Fresh”, by having Jennifer Kellie, a Honiara businesswoman who also runs a successful dried fruits company, take charge.
    Indeed, KGA co-founder Jansen, sees the possibility of Kastom Gaden “incubating” other such businesses and then spinning them off to KGA members, with Kastom’s Hadosaia suggesting poultry, seedlings and seeds as likely candidates.
    Hadosaia doesn’t seem too worried about his organisation’s future down the line.
    “We’re serious about sustainability,” he says. “There are plenty of possibilities and we are exploring them as ways for us to make money.”
    Hopefully Hadosaia’s take will turn out to be a case of well-placed confidence, and not of complacency.
    It would be a shame if KGA’s less than perturbed outlook turns out to be an instance of so-called “Last Match In The Box” thinking, when a problem is only dealt with once it’s upon you, i.e. once you’ve run out of matches, run out of options.
    Ideally, KGA will market itself successfully to a range of donors, foundations, even private companies; build up its Farm Fresh enterprise and spur others; complement even further its work with the Ministry of Agriculture.
    Ideally, in other words, KGA has been going over its equivalent of a Value Chain.

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    Famine Foods

    Source : Crops for the Future

    From Robert Freedman, Tucson, Arizona:

    I am doing ethnobotanical research on a little-known category of underutilized plants – Specifically, the data I am coordinating documents food plants used throughout the world, during periods of drought-induced famine and food scarcity. These data are accessible, on the Web, at: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/FamineFoods/ff_home.html

    My intention, in coordinating these data, is to provide a resource, of proven drought-resistant food plants, some of which, because of known high nutrient content, have a potential for improvement, that would make possible the development of new crops, for populations relying on non-indigenous and environmentally at-risk spp.. This idea is articulated further, on the Web, at ‘Notes on the Famine Food Web Site’: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/FamineFoods/faminefoods.html

    Based on what is known of those famine food plants, which have been analyzed in the laboratory, these data also provide a large corpus of spp.., still in need of nutritional analysis, to ascertain which may have nexpectedly high nutritional values and thereby become candidates for growth trials and selection. I would like to contact other specialists, who have an interest in arid land subsistence; and development of underutilized food plants. If you could suggest any individuals and organizations whom I can contact, I will be most appreciative.

    For more information please contact Bob Freedman at namdeerf@gmail.com

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    American Samoa : Governor establishes Food Policy Council by executive order

    From : Samoanews

    By Fili Sagapolutele fili@samoanews.com
    December 2009

    Through an executive order, Gov. Togiola Tulafono established the American Samoa Food Policy Council, which will advise the governor on all aspects of the food system in the territory.

    Creation of the council comes on the heels of the “ASIASIGA: a Conference on Food Security in American Samoa” held in February this year in which several issues were discussed including the direction of the future of food security and self-reliance in American Samoa.

    It was at the conference that participants supported the establishment of the council because there is a need to strengthen food security in American Samoa. Given the territory’s vulnerability to risk factors related to the Territory’s geographic isolation, the limited opportunities to expand export earnings, declining land available for agriculture, the price of oil and dependency on imported food, it was considered essential.

    According to the governor, a territorial food policy that is designed to produce a safe, sufficient, and nutritious food supply must also balance economic, environmental, political and social considerations important to the people of the Territory.

    Additionally, there is a need for a lead entity to give sustained attention to food and nutrition issues in a comprehensive manner.


    The executive order states that the council advises the governor on all aspects of the food system in American Samoa with the overall objective to advise on the critical issue of access to good nutrition for all the people of American Samoa under all conditions.

    Such advice shall include the territory’s baseline agricultural and fisheries production output; vulnerability of the Territory to food and nutritional insecurity because of the many risk factors; importance of food safety; the need to stockpile food supplies and seeds of essential crops; and the need to identify gaps in the territory’s emergency preparedness with respect to food security.

    Additionally, rates of non-communicable diseases in American Samoa and their link to food and nutrition; strategies to promote local foods and engage young people; and the importance, in connection with food security, of protecting and maintaining our natural resources such as water quality, soil conservation, forestry health, air quality, and coral reefs will be included.


    The council membership shall include, at the Governor’s discretion, the directors or their official designees from the American Samoa Community College (represented by the Director of the Land Grant program), the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources, the Department of Health, the Department of Commerce, the President of the American Samoa Farmers’ Co-operative, and the Governor’s Senior Policy Advisor.

    Within the Council are seven working groups: Basic Food Supplies; Nutrition and Health; Special Needs; Food Safety; Emergency Preparedness; Legislation group; and Monitoring and Reporting. The executive order outlines the functions of each working group.

    Each group’s jurisdiction may be construed broadly enough to allow for the inclusion of other issues related to the group’s purview and to ensure that each issue is properly addressed, according to the executive order, adding that members may be drawn from the community in accordance with any special interests.


    The director of the Land Grant program chairs the council, who elects their vice chair. Staff of the departments cited as council members are to provide support staff for the council, who shall ensure that it provides an effective forum for diverse stakeholders to work together to create positive changes in the local food system. They will do so by seeking common purposes, fostering collaborative decision making, sharing information whether in printed or electronic formats, adopting integrated approaches to local issues, and maintaining appropriate cultural sensitivity.

    The council shall issue advisory reports to the Governor, upon request by the Chief Executive and no less than twice a year, on the first Monday of every June and December.

    On behalf of the governor’s office, the council shall issue an annual summary report to the Legislature and Judicial branches. The council will, as needed, liaise with the Legislative and Judicial.

    The order also states that the council shall identify specific roles that non-governmental organizations, private sector entities, and community entities can play in partnership with the Government with respect to the design, implementation, and evaluation of policies and strategies.

    It can also explore cooperation with regional, national and international organizations in support of council goals.

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    Socioeconomic Obstacles to Establishing a Participatory Plant Breeding Program for Organic Growers in the United States

    From : Sustainability 2010, 2, 73-91
    Ruth Mendum and Leland L. Glenna *

    Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA; E-Mail: rmm22@psu.edu
    * Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: llg13@psu.edu; Tel.: +1-814-863-8636; Fax: +1-814-865-3746.

    Received: 3 November 2009 / Accepted: 24 December 2009 / Published: 29 December 2009


    Proponents of participatory plant breeding (PPB) contend that it is more conducive to promoting agricultural biodiversity than conventional plant breeding. The argument is that conventional plant breeding tends to produce crops for homogenous environments, while PPB tends to be directed at meeting the diverse environmental conditions of the farmers participating in a breeding program. Social scientific research is needed to highlight the complex socioeconomic factors that inhibit efforts to initiate PPB programs. To contribute, we offer a case study of a participatory organic seed production project that involved a university breeding program, commercial organic seed dealers, and organic farmers in the Northeastern United States. We demonstrate that, although PPB may indeed promote agricultural biodiversity, several socioeconomic obstacles must be overcome to establish such a program.
    Keywords: agricultural biodiversity; socioeconomic context; plant breeding

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    Tuesday, January 05, 2010

    International Year of Biodiversity

    From : http://www.countdown2010.net/year-biodiversity

    The UN declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB). Throughout the year countless initiatives will be organized to disseminate information, promote the protection of biodiversity and encourage organizations, institutions, companies and individuals to take direct action to reduce the constant loss of biological diversity worldwide.

    Countdown 2010 works at governmental level by monitoring countries’ responses to the 2010 Biodiversity Target and at local level by mobilising local actors that take concrete actions. In only a few years of activity, Countdown 2010 has been able to mobilize an increasing number of actors ranging from local authorities and businesses to civil society organizations. With a powerful network of more than 900 Partners, Countdown 2010 is one of the leading initiatives mobilizing action for the 2010 Target.

    Through its wide and well-established network, Countdown 2010 will be a key global actor for IYB in Europe and around the world. Countdown 2010 Partners will provide one of the main information channels and will be a major vehicle for reaching target groups worldwide.

    Objectives of IYB

    Raise awareness of the importance of conserving biodiversity for human well-being and promote understanding of the economic value of biodiversity

    Enhance public knowledge of the threats to biodiversity and means to conserve it

    Engage an increasing number of people

    Celebrate the achievements by governments and Countdown 2010 Partners

    Report on possible failures to achieve the Target

    Use momentum to trigger even more action for biodiversity

    Begin to communicate the post-2010 target(s).

    Countdown 2010 celebrates IYB
    Countdown 2010 is organising a number of events to bring Partners together to coordinate their actions, events and messages for the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB) in 2010. Among the numerous initiatives planned for next year:

    2010 Success Stories. Countdown 2010 Partners’ achievements in biodiversity conservation will be featured in a series of “2010 Success Stories” which will be featured in multimedia formats on the Countdown 2010 website.

    Key international events. Countdown 2010 will participate in key international events and organize several events on the 2010 Target and the post-2010 framework. It will also actively support the Secretariat of the CBD (SCBD) for its events and the celebrations of international days in 2010. Countdown 2010 will be present at, among others:

    Launch of IYB by COP 9 President, Berlin, Germany in January
    Opening of the IYB, launch of the UNESCO exhibition, Paris, France in January
    Trondheim conference, Norway in February
    FIFA World Cup, South Africa in June
    United Nations General Assembly, New York, USA in September
    10th Conference of the Parties, Nagoya, Japan in October
    Closing of the IYB, Kanazawa, Japan in December
    2010 Biodiversity Year Schedule of Events. Countdown 2010 hosts a calendar of events happening in 2010 and beyond. The calendar will be linked to the SCBD calendar and will focus on public awareness events organized by partners and other stakeholders.

    2010 Communications. Special publications and promotional merchandise will be produced for IYB. A targeted Ambassadors programme will be developed in cooperation with Partners. A mass action promoted by Countdown 2010 through its Partners will seek to engage people beyond the environmental community.

    Engagement with business. Special projects will be developed with the Countdown 2010 business Partners. In addition, companies will be asked to undertake a specific 2010 commitment for biodiversity.

    Mobilizing local authorities. Several events on local authorities’ contribution to the 2010 Target and post-2010 framework will be organized in partnership with Countdown 2010 Partners.

    Global action for IYB. Countdown 2010 Multiregional Hubs in South America, Africa and Asia are planning their celebrations for IYB. They will replicate some of the initiatives carried out at European level and undertake several more of their own.
    Days to the end of 2010

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    Sunday, November 22, 2009

    The impact of the European Novel Food Regulation on trade and food innovation based on traditional plant foods from developing countries

    From : ScienceDirect

    Michael Hermann, a,

    aBioversity International, c/o Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 413 St Jacques, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2Y1N9

    Received 29 January 2009; revised 10 August 2009; accepted 15 August 2009. Available online 9 September 2009.

    The stringent food safety assessment for novel foods required by the European Union’s Novel Food Regulation (NFR) places a high burden of proof on those bringing traditional food products to the EU market not consumed in the EU prior 1997. The regulation has emerged as a non-tariff trade barrier for heritage foods from developing countries that are viewed as “exotic” from the EU perspective. We show how the regulation has discouraged investment in supply chains and market development, and how this negatively affects income generation and rural poverty alleviation in developing countries. Focusing on plant-derived foods, this paper proposes to recognize traditional exotic foods in current EU law as a food category sui generis with food safety evidence requirements being proportionate to the risks they may pose. We argue that development activities promoting export food chains must increasingly accommodate legitimate food safety concerns about neglected food species in project design and seek to generate data to enhance regulatory acceptance in target markets.

    Keywords: Market access barriers; Traditional foods; Food safety; EU Novel Food Regulation; Neglected crops; Export supply chains

    Article Outline
    New income opportunities for poor countries from traditional food products
    The relevance of trade in traditional exotic foods to development and poverty alleviation
    The EU Novel Food Regulation
    Procedures and implementation since 1997
    Implementation of the Novel Food Regulation from 1997 to 2008
    Authorized applications
    Noni juice and leaves
    Baobab fruit pulp
    Denied applications of traditional foods under the NFR
    Other traditional foods challenged by the NFR
    Adverse impact of the Novel Food Regulation on trade in biodiversity products
    Need for the recognition of exotic traditional foods as a food category sui generis
    Evidence requirements for traditional exotic foods
    The need for enhanced scientific documentation of traditional foods

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    It is very important to develop an organic agriculture. The production should be based on an agriculture based on agricultural practices near nature. Only in this way we managed to save the earth.masini
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    USDA Highlights Specialty Crop Research and Extension

    Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

    Posted on: 19th November 2009

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA has awarded more than $46 million through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) to solve critical specialty crop agriculture issues, address priorities and solve problems through multifunctional research and extension.

    “Specialty crops are an important part of American agriculture, valued at nearly $50 billion every year,” Vilsack said. “This significant investment into research, education and extension will enable specialty crop producers to improve their products and increase their profitability.”

    The Specialty Crop Research Initiative was established by the 2008 Farm Bill to support the specialty crop industry by developing and disseminating science-based tools to address the needs of specific crops in five focus areas: 1) improve crop characteristics through plant breeding, genetics and genomics; 2) address threats from pests and diseases; 3) improve production efficiency, productivity and profitability; 4) develop new innovations and technologies and 5) develop methods to improve food safety. Each of the focus areas received at least 10 percent of the available funds. The majority of the funded projects address two or more focus areas.

    The projects funded in 2009 address research and extension needs for crops that span the entire spectrum of specialty crops production, from studying invasive mealy bug pests in west coast vineyards to developing biodegradable mulches for specialty crops produced under protective covers. Major projects were also funded to protect important specialty crops from invasive pests and to develop improved varieties.

    Although 20 institutions will manage the research/extension grant funds from this program, each award includes an average of 8 principal investigators from three other states who will work together in a multi-disciplinary approach to solve problems. All of the awards required 100 percent matching funds from non-federal sources which will double the impact of the award dollars.

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    From : http://www.agrobiodiversity-diversitas.org

    Biodiversity loss in agricultural landscapes affects not just the production of food, fuel, and fiber, but also a range of ecological services supporting clean water supplies, habitats for wild species, and human health. The world’s population of 6.3 billion people is projected to grow to 9 billion by 2050. To meet the increased demand for food, more land will be converted to agriculture, and agricultural intensification will increase, thereby increasing the pressure on biodiversity in natural ecosystems. Given the expected growth in human population and predicted environmental change, research is needed predicted effects on environmental change, research is needed that shows how the utilization and conservation of biodiversity can provide ecosystem services to satisfy both current
    and future needs. The goal of the agroBIODIVERSITY science plan and implementation strategy is to establish the scientific basis needed to address the trade-offs between food production, biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services,
    and human well being in agricultural landscapes. Three key research foci of the agroBIODIVERSITY Science Plan integrate the biological and social sciences:
    (1) To assess biodiversity in agricultural landscapes and the anthropogenic drivers of biodiversity change; (2) To identify the goods and services provided by agrobiodiversity at various levels of biological organization, e.g., genes, species, communities, ecosystems, and landscapes; (3) To evaluate the socioeconomic options for the sustainable use of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. Innovative biodiversity-rich farming systems can potentially be high-yielding and sustainable, and thus support persistence of wild species by limiting the adverse effects
    of agriculture on habitats. Adoption of farming practices that utilize and conserve biodiversity may ultimately improve environmental quality and limit agricultural
    expansion. Conservation of biodiversity and human knowledge from traditional agroecosystems is an urgent priority, to support human societies that rely on its cultural services, and for its potential for solving agricultural problems, now and in the future. Implementation of the agroBIODIVERSITY Science Plan will involve collaboration between geneticists, ecologists, anthropologists, and economists, to cross ecosystem boundaries to understand the environmental and social drivers of biodiversity change, ecosystem services provided by biodiversity in agricultural landscapes, and how to use this information for policy-relevant strategies to meet
    human needs. Innovative methods for data handling and analysis across disciplines are required, as are protocols for integrating formal and informal knowledge. Workshops, publications, and projects by international networks of scientists will result in various scientific products that will increase useful knowledge for a variety of stakeholder groups.

    Examples of activities will include:

     Assemble and synthesize current knowledge,

     Develop new approaches, methods, and models for
    assessing biodiversity in agricultural landscapes, and for
    determining issues that affect the sustainable use and
    conservation of biodiversity in agriculture
     Establish international networks that promote research
    and capacity building among researchers involved in biodiversity
    science in agricultural landscapes

     Conduct research linking the biophysical and socioeconomic
    sciences to develop new knowledge that will support
    decisions for biodiversity utilization and conservation
    in agricultural landscapes

     Produce synthetic outcomes of research activities and
    promote the development of policy-relevant materials related
    to sustainable use of biodiversity

     Lead outreach efforts to show the successful outcomes
    of approaches that link biophysical and socioeconomic
    sciences for sustainable use of biodiversity in

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    Thursday, November 05, 2009

    Recent Publications from UH-CTAHR's Office of Communication Services

    From : CTAHR

    *** Free Publications ***
    The publications listed below by their subject category are now available for downloading from the CTAHR free publications webpage. http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/freepubs
    The economics of cacao production in Kona (with spreadsheet)
    Kent Fleming, Virginia Easton Smith, Skip Bittenbender, AB-17 12 p.
    Entrepreneur’s Toolbox
    A profile of minority business owners
    Diane Masuo, Y.L. Malroutu, ET-10 6 p.
    Livestock Management
    Swine health management for Hawaii
    Halina Zaleski, R.D. Willer, E.S. Terway, LM-21 5 p.
    Soil and Crop Management
    Benefits and costs of using perennial peanut as living mulch for fruit trees in Hawaii
    Ted Radovich, Linda Cox, Jari Sugano, Travis Idol, SCM-27 10 p.
    Maximizing yields of corn for silage and bioethanol in Hawaii by increasing plant density
    Jim Brewbaker, SCM-28 7 p.
    Sustainable Agriculture
    Small-scale lettuce production with hydroponics or aquaponics
    Harry Ako, Adam Baker, SA-2 7 p.
    Overview of organic food crop systems in Hawaii
    Ted Radovich, Linda Cox, Jim Hollyer, SA-3 14 p.
    *** Finding CTAHR Publications ***
    Three databases are searchable by words in title, authors’ names, publication date, or publication series:
    CTAHR Publications (1901 to present)
    CTAHR Theses and Dissertations (current to 2001)
    CTAHR Journal Series (faculty journal articles, book chapters; current to 2001)
    ScholarSpace is a joint project with the UH Hamilton Library. It contains all the titles available at www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/freepubs that have been issued since about 1996, excluding some for-sale publications), plus some previously out-of-print publications that have been scanned for the project. These latter were published before our publications began to be made available in PDF digital format (see, for example, the Bulletin series, or the Research Extension Series).
    To begin a ScholarSpace search, go to the CTAHR community home page. The search opportunity is far more robust than that available in the CTAHR databases listed above. Searches probe the entire text of all the documents in the collections. New CTAHR publications will be added to ScholarSpace as they are issued.

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    Managing genetic variation in tropical trees: linking knowledge with action in agroforestry ecosystems for improved conservation and enhanced livelihoods
    Ian K. Dawson • Ard Lengkeek • John C. Weber •Ramni Jamnadass

    From : CropWildRelativesGroup@yahoogroups.com

    Tree species in agroforestry ecosystems contribute to the livelihoods of rural
    communities and play an important role in the conservation of biodiversity. Unless agroforestry landscapes are productive, however, farmers will not maintain or enhance the range and quality of tree species in them, and both income opportunities and biodiversity will be lost.
    Productivity depends on both tree species diversity and genetic (intra-speciWc) variation, but research on the latter has until recently not received the recognition it deserves. Worse, when knowledge on tree genetic variation in agroforestry systems has become available, it has not generally been linked in any systematic way with management, indicating a disjunction between research and Weld-level practice. In this essay, we attempt to bridge this gap by considering three questions: why is genetic diversity important in tree species? What is our current state of knowledge about intra-speciWc variation in trees in agroforestry systems? And, Wnally, what practical interventions are possible to support the conservation of this diversity in agricultural landscapes, while enhancing farmers’ livelihoods? A wide genetic base in agroforestry trees is essential to prevent inbreeding depression and allow adaptation to changing environmental conditions and to altering markets for tree products. Recent evidence shows, however, that many species are subject to poor germplasm collection practice, occur at low densities in farmland, and are found in highly aggregated distributions, all of which observations raise concerns about productivity and sustainability. A range of germplasmaccess
    based interventions is necessary to improve current management, including the
    enhancement of community seed- and seedling-exchange networks, and the development of locally based tree domestication activities. Equally necessary, but more diYcult to address, isthe development of markets that support genetic diversity in tropical tree species; we discuss approaches by which this may be undertaken.

    Keywords Agroforestry ecosystems • Biodiversity management • Genetic variation •
    Tropical trees

    Best regards

    Dr. Nelli Hovhannisyan, PhD
    Research Scientist, Lecturer
    Department of Ecology and Nature Protection
    Faculty of Biology
    Yerevan State University
    1 Alex Manoogian str., Yerevan, Armenia, 0025
    Tel: (+37410) 57 21 19
    Mob: (+37493) 30 82 18
    E-mail: bionellibiotech@yahoo.com

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    Clean technology as a public good

    From : SciDev Net

    Clean technology to meet poor communities' needs must lie at the heart of any sustainable strategy to combat climate change.

    A widely-held myth among climate change activists is that discussing the need for improved technology to mitigate or adapt to climate change detracts from political debates on who is to blame for unsustainable lifestyles — and who should pay for their consequences.

    Like many myths, this one contains an element of truth. Purely technological responses to climate change have, on occasion, been proposed to avoid difficult political choices.

    The United States' approach to the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate four years ago (see Asia-Pacific climate pact launched) is a notable example.

    But the myth is also a dangerous one. It ignores the fact that any effort to combat climate change will only succeed if it can draw on technologies that do not, in the long run, add to the global burden of carbon emissions (see Climate change's technology transfer challenge).

    The first political challenge — due to emerge at next month's UN Climate Change Convention (COP-15) in Copenhagen — is to ensure sufficient funding to urgently develop clean technologies.

    The second is to guarantee that equal effort is devoted to ensuring that such technologies do not hinder the world's poorest communities from improving their standards of living through economic development.

    Money matters

    The good news is that the first of these challenges seems to have been taken seriously. Climate negotiators have long realised that developing clean technology and transferring it to developing nations are fundamentals of any global strategy to combat climate change.

    But some assessments of the technological challenge ahead are sobering. A European Commission report emerging from pre-Copenhagen discussions, for example, estimates that the developing world will need up to US$150 billion over the next decade to cope with climate change.

    One of the more ambitious, yet convincing solutions on the table next month is the G-77 plus China's idea of a UN-operated multilateral climate technology fund (MCTF).

    Using a multilateral system to identify technological needs and priorities avoids the type of political trading that too frequently accompanies bilateral funding programmes, where donor's interests can be as influential as those of the recipient.

    A free resource

    But neither more money alone, nor an international mechanism to collect and distribute such funding, will be sufficient.

    It is equally important to guarantee that a large part of the funded projects are directed at meeting the needs of the poor who are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

    This will require political concessions from the developed world that are unlikely to be easily conceded at Copenhagen. In particular, the idea that clean technology should be a 'public good' — a resource free for everyone.

    Such a commitment would significantly improve access to clean technology by those who need it most but are least able to pay. Similar to the thinking behind 'open access' to scientific research, the idea is that the easier it is to access clean technologies, the more widely the benefits will be felt.

    But patents increasingly cover clean technologies — whether developed in the public or the private sector. And, despite calls for loosening patent protection, in practice the reverse is likely to happen as corporations and countries view the sale and export of green technology as a path to economic growth.

    Markets not the answer

    This is true for the developed and developing world alike. Countries such as China and India are already producing new technologies within a market perspective, developing them as a major future source of revenue rather than a free gift.

    But, as long-argued by economists such as Nicholas Stern and increasingly accepted by governments around the world, climate change represents one of the biggest market failures of all time.

    If, as with the financial crisis, it was the failure of global markets to stem excessive greed (in this case for energy) that triggered the current climate crisis, markets are unlikely to get us out of it. We need a massive public bail-out of precisely the type that the proposed MCTF represents and that governments have already provided for their financial institutions.

    But those excluded from markets in the first place, including most of the world's poorest communities, need a different approach. It is here that the 'public good' approach to clean technology is most urgent.

    If next month's climate talks in Copenhagen can enshrine such a commitment, it would be one of its most significant and long-lasting achievements.

    David Dickson
    Director, SciDev.Net

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    Extinction crisis continues apace

    From : Birdlife International

    BirdLife International is the Red List Authority for birds and released the 2009 update for birds earlier in the year, listing 192 species of bird as Critically Endangered, the highest threat category, a total of two more than in the 2008 update. But the update did highlight some successes, including the downlisting of Lear's Macaw Anodorhynchus leari, from Critically Endangered to Endangered, as a direct result of targeted conservation action.

    "In global terms, things continue to get worse – but there are some real conservation success stories this year to give us hope and point the way forward", said Dr Leon Bennun, BirdLife's Director of Science and Policy.

    Of the world's 9,998 birds, 137 are Extinct or Extinct in the Wild, with 192 Critically Endangered, 362 Endangered and 669 Vulnerable.

    The results of the full Red List update reveal 21% of mammals, 30% of amphibians, 12% of birds, and 28% of reptiles, 37% of freshwater fishes, 70% of plants, 35% of invertebrates assessed so far are under threat.

    "The scientific evidence of a serious extinction crisis is mounting", says Jane Smart, Director of IUCN's Biodiversity Conservation Group. "January sees the launch of the International Year of Biodiversity. The latest analysis of the IUCN Red List shows the 2010 target to reduce biodiversity loss will not be met. It's time for governments to start getting serious about saving species and make sure it’s high on their agendas for next year, as we're rapidly running out of time."

    Of the world's 5,490 mammals, 79 are Extinct or Extinct in the Wild, with 188 Critically Endangered, 449 Endangered and 505 Vulnerable. Eastern Voalavo Voalavo antsahabensis appears on the IUCN Red List for the first time in the Endangered category. This rodent, endemic to Madagascar, is confined to montane tropical forest and is under threat from slash-and-burn farming.

    There are now 1,677 reptiles on the IUCN Red List, with 293 added this year. In total, 469 are threatened with extinction and 22 are already Extinct or Extinct in the Wild. The 165 endemic Philippine species new to the IUCN Red List include Panay Monitor Lizard Varanus mabitang, which is Endangered. This highly-specialized monitor lizard is threatened by habitat loss due to agriculture and logging and is hunted by humans for food. Sail-fin Water Lizard Hydrosaurus pustulatus enters in the Vulnerable category and is also threatened by habitat loss. Hatchlings are heavily collected both for the pet trade and for local consumption.

    "The world's reptiles are undoubtedly suffering, but the picture may be much worse than it currently looks", says Simon Stuart, Chair of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission. "We need an assessment of all reptiles to understand the severity of the situation but we don’t have the $2-3 million to carry it out."

    The IUCN Red List shows that 1,895 of the planet's 6,285 amphibians are in danger of extinction, making them the most threatened group of species known to date. Of these, 39 are already Extinct or Extinct in the Wild, 484 are Critically Endangered, 754 are Endangered and 657 are Vulnerable.

    Kihansi Spray Toad Nectophrynoides asperginis has moved from Critically Endangered to Extinct in the Wild. The species was only known from the Kihansi Falls in Tanzania, where it was formerly abundant with a population of at least 17,000. Its decline is due to the construction of a dam upstream of the Kihansi Falls that removed 90 percent of the original water flow to the gorge. The fungal disease chytridiomycosis was probably responsible for the toad’s final population crash.

    The fungus also affected Rabb's Fringe-limbed Treefrog Ecnomiohyla rabborum, which enters the Red List as Critically Endangered. It is known only from central Panama. In 2006, the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis was reported in its habitat and only a single male has been heard calling since. This species has been collected for captive breeding efforts but all attempts have so far failed.

    Of the 12,151 plants on the IUCN Red List, 8,500 are threatened with extinction, with 114 already Extinct or Extinct in the Wild. The Queen of the Andes Puya raimondii has been reassessed and remains in the Endangered category. Found in the Andes of Peru and Bolivia, it only produces seeds once in 80 years before dying. Climate change may already be impairing its ability to flower and cattle roam freely among many colonies, trampling or eating young plants.

    But it's not all doom and gloom, conservation does work and there are some great examples in this year's Red List. In Brazil, Lear's Macaw Anodorhynchus leari has been downlisted from Critically Endangered. Named after the English poet, this spectacular blue parrot has increased four-fold in numbers as a result of a joint effort of many national and international non-governmental organisations, the Brazilian government and local landowners.

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    Tuesday, November 03, 2009

    Woody plants adapted to past climate change more slowly than herbs

    Source: ScienceDaily, 27 September 2009

    Can we predict which species will be most vulnerable to climate change by studying how they responded in the past? A new study of flowering plants provides a clue. An analysis of more than 5000 plant species reveals that woody plants — such as trees and shrubs — adapted to past climate change much more slowly than herbaceous plants did. If the past is any indicator of the future, woody plants may have a harder time than other plants keeping pace with global warming, researchers say.
    In a new study, biologists at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (USA) and Yale University (USA) teamed up to find out how flowering plants adapted to new climates over the course of their evolution. By integrating previously published genealogies for several plant groups with temperature and rainfall data for each species, they were able to measure how fast each lineage filled new climate niches over time.
    When they compared woody and herbaceous groups, they found that woody plants adapted to new climates two to ten times slower than herbs. "Woody plants eventually evolved to occupy about the same range of climates that herbaceous plants did, but woody plants took a lot longer to get there," said lead author Stephen Smith, a postdoctoral researcher at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, NC.
    The researchers trace the disparity to differences in generation time between the two groups. Longer-lived plants like trees and shrubs typically take longer to reach reproductive age than fast-growing herbaceous plants, they explained. "Some woody plants take many years to produce their first flower, whereas for herbs it could take just a couple months," said co-author Jeremy Beaulieu, a graduate student at Yale University.
    Because woody plants have longer reproductive cycles, they also tend to accumulate genetic changes at slower rates, prior research shows. "If genetic mutations build up every generation, then in 1000 years you would expect plants with longer generation times to accumulate fewer mutations per unit time," said Smith. This could explain why woody plants were slower to adapt to new environments. If genetic mutations provide the raw material for evolution, then woody plants simply didn't accumulate mutations fast enough to keep up. "If woody and herbaceous plants were running a race, the herbs would be the hares and the woody plants would be the tortoises," said Beaulieu.
    By understanding how plants responded to climate change in the past, scientists may be better able to predict which groups will be hardest hit by global warming in the future. Unlike the tortoise and the hare, however, in this case slow and steady may not win the race. "Woody groups are obviously at a disadvantage as the climate changes," Beaulieu explained.
    Does this mean that ecosystems dominated by trees — such as rainforests — will be more likely to disappear? Possibly, "If we look to the past for our clues, chances are trees will continue to respond much slower than herbs — as much as 10 times slower," Smith said. "But if the rate of climate change is 100 times faster, then they could all be in trouble. The kind of change we're experiencing now is so unprecedented," he added. While this study focused on long-term change over the last 100 million years, most climate models predict significant warming in the next century, the researchers explained. "That time frame may be too quick for any plant," Beaulieu said.
    For full story, please see: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090923121441.htm

    Dr Danny Hunter

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    Study on plant breeding education to be conducted at the University of California, Davis

    From : Danny Hunter (Crop Wild Relative Group)

    Plant breeding is currently under stress – the global demand for breeders is greater than the current educational system has been producing. Companies are having difficulty finding well trained plant breeders, slowing the progress of
    agricultural research. The need to strengthen public plant breeding programs and educate more professional plant breeders is critical if we are to continue producing improved crop varieties to provide food for an increasing population.
    Researchers at UC Davis are initiating a study aimed at gaining consensus on the most essential curriculum components for educating plant breeders. Through an iterative process, a diverse group of experts with highly specialized knowledge of plant breeding will be surveyed to elicit ideas and suggestions for educational program content. Over 250 participants from all over the world will be asked to complete the three rounds of this survey, with each round building on the responses gleaned through the prior round. This consensus-based approach will lead to a comprehensive analysis of content and practical experiences that will guide the design of modern plant breeding curricula. Following conclusion of the analysis, all results will be publically available to the international community.
    "Plant breeders continually provide the world with necessary advances in crop varieties; however, their numbers are diminishing due to retirements and fewer educational programs offering plant breeding degrees," says Dr. Allen Van Deynze, Director of Research at the Seed Biotechnology Center and co-founder of the Plant Breeding Academysm. "The scope of this study provides every participant an equal voice to help improve the training experiences of future breeders and will result in a clear understanding of how to focus educational programs to get the best results."
    Dr. Cary Trexler, a professor in the College of Education at UC Davis will lead this study in cooperation with the Seed Biotechnology Center. Funding for this study is being provided through the generous support of private companies, university departments, and individual contributors.

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    Wednesday, October 21, 2009

    Pacific Climate Change framework assessed by SPREP

    21 OCTOBER 2009 MAJURO (SPREP) -----The implementation of the Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change (PIFACC) has been assessed in a report commissioned by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

    The overview of the report was discussed on the first day of the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable (PCCR).

    This particular framework is the overarching guidance for climate change policy in the Pacific islands region, and was endorsed by the Pacific leaders in 2005. It is at the forefront of work conducted by the Pacific Futures programme at SPREP.

    ”Threats from climate change are impacting upon everyone, there are projections that will effect the availability of safe drinking water, a loss of natural biodiversity as temperature conditions will see invasive species thrive, sea level rise threatening the sovereignty of Pacific islands peoples and a threat to food security as salt water inundation becomes a regular occurrence for some nations in the Pacific, said the report.

    In order to ensure we address climate change together, in a coordinated manner, the PIFACC is a guide as to how we’ll actively adapt and mitigate climate change together.

    “Findings show that there are a lot of climate change activities happening, but it has been identified that there is a need for more coherent and coordination,” said Espen Ronneberg the Climate Change Adviser for SPREP, he presented the overview of the assessment at the PCCR.

    “This is largely to be a key task for the roundtable. It is something we need to work on to improve the operational structure of the roundtable process.”

    Six recommendations were presented in the report.

    An immediate consideration is the suggestion to conduct a mid-term review of the Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change. Any future direction for the PIFACC and the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable are to be discussed during the week.

    “One suggestion from SPREP is to establish thematic working groups to assist in the review process.. There may be other options as to how we move forward on this assessment report but it’s really up to the countries to decide,” said Ronneberg.

    The remainder of the recommendations includes those which focus on a database of climate change information. It is proposed to establish a single extensive data base of climate change and related projects with historical validity of information.

    The assessment report also centers on the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable. It is recommended that the roundtable be convened at times and locations that make the most of coordination and integration opportunities, this also takes into consideration minimizing the greenhouse gas emissions through air travel.

    The next recommendation looks at what takes place after the PCCR.

    “In order to ensure that decisions made during the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable are carried out in a timely and effective manner, the report recommends that a person be appointed to provide leadership and oversee these actions.

    A final recommendation looks at providing support for SPREP which is the secretariat to the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable and recommends that the University of the South Pacific establish a unit to provide technical and other support to SPREP.

    “The next steps that we take, is really up to the countries to decide. I think if we can get some clear direction on what we should be doing to improve on the working arrangements then I would be happy with that,” said Ronneberg.

    “But if we have to spend more time thinking about this and moving to have discussions with member countries then that’s the way that we’ll have to move forward on this. It’s up to the member countries.”..ends

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    Monday, October 19, 2009

    Charting a Multitude of Uses for Agrobiodiversity

    Posted on October 15, 2009 by cgiar

    A new Web-based tool is now available for collecting information about initiatives aimed at helping rural communities adapt to climate change through the use of agricultural biodiversity, or agrobiodiversity.

    Made available by the climate change project of Bioversity International’s Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research, the tool is intended to facilitate dialogue between rural communities around the world and to build a knowledge base, which can be used to increase awareness of practices available to these communities for coping with climate change. Contributions will be synthesized for use in advocating stronger involvement of marginal groups in the climate change policy debate.

    The term agrobiodiversity encompasses all of the plants, trees, animals, insects, microbes, pathogens and fungi occurring in agricultural systems. The world’s increasing dependence on modern crop varieties and animal breeds of just a few major species is among the forces driving erosion of such diversity, which limits the options open to researchers and farmers for improving agricultural production and adapting it to changing conditions.

    The Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research was created during 2004 in recognition of the urgent need to arrest diversity loss. Providing a neutral space for exploring the often politicized issues associated with agrobiodiversity, the platform encourages members to engage in collaborative research, helps identify gaps in global knowledge about agrobiodiversity and raises awareness of the threats to this resource as well as the value of efforts to overcome them.

    The platform is supported by Bioversity International, the CGIAR System-wide Genetic Resources Programme (SGRP) and the Christensen Fund (http://www.christensenfund.org/).

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    Erosion of Crop Diversity Worrying

    Harare — MALAWI and most other African countries need to come up with strategies and policies to promote agro-biodiversity conservation to minimise the impact of climate change and other natural disasters on the livelihoods of resource-poor farmers, a top Malawian plant breeder says.

    In a wide-ranging interview in Lilongwe recently, Dr Moses Maliro, a plant breeder at the University of Malawi Bunda College of Agriculture, told this writer that the rapid loss of diverse cultivated crops and their wild relatives will affect the poor and threaten the future of agricultural development in Malawi and most other African countries.

    "The impact of climate change and population is quite damaging to the livelihoods of the poor farmers.

    "We need to strategise and come up with policies that promote agro-biodiversity conservation to enhance food security and help our poor farmers to cope with this looming climate change disaster," he said.

    "Monoculture and the aggressive promotion of improved varieties have forced farmers to neglect their own landraces. Smallholder farmers' efforts to promote crop diversity must be supported by governments, international partners and local business community."

    Dr Maliro said the preservation and use of crop diversity is important to the more marginal diverse agricultural environments where modern plant breeding has had much less success.

    He said farmers in these areas tend to be poorly served by public research and extension system.

    "Farmers are neglecting their own traditional crop varieties and their wild relatives in favour of monoculture (maize) and other market-driven crops such as cotton and others.

    "But when there is a drought and other natural disasters, farmers survive on traditional tubers, wild species and other locally adapted crops," Dr Maliro said.

    "Food aid normally comes late and is not enough, so the poor depend on these local traditional crops for survival. Why not promote them when they are so critical for our own food security?

    "We should not impose improved varieties on farmers. Food security is not only about high yields, but is about sustainable production as well in case of unreliable weather conditions and climate change."

    Malawi has lost a number of local crop varieties due to neglect, erosion of local indigenous knowledge systems, promotion of improved varieties, lack of incentives for locally adapted crops and other factors.

    "People in Malawi used to grow a lot of sorghum and other small grains, but today you don't see the crops. You rarely see pearl millet and finger millet, you rarely see farmers growing the crops," Dr Maliro said.

    He said agricultural research institutions, governments and NGOs need to promote the growing of sorghum, millets, bambara nuts, locally adapted varieties of cowpeas (nseula or khobwe), beans (mphodza -mung bean) and other wild crop relatives.

    "The mphodza bean is there in the villages, but no research is being done nor any work to support farmers to grow it on a bigger scale.

    "Only the elderly people have the knowledge of these crops that Malawi is fast losing.

    "The young generation and our curricula in colleges and universities must be overhauled to promote indigenous food crops which are critical with this looming climate change crisis.

    "If we don't anything to change our attitudes and support the farmers to grow these crops, the next generation will starve to death due to the damaging impact of climate change," said Dr Maliro.

    "We need to conserve local crop varieties. These are very nutritious and we can use them, for example, cowpeas, to bake bread and fortify bread-making process.

    "Roots and tubers are there in villages, but we are doing nothing to conserve them. Africa cannot afford to lose this diversity and the indigenous knowledge ingrained in these food crops."

    Malawi and other African countries, he said, should adopt practical steps to promote small grains, roots and tubers to enhance food security, conserve crop diversity and enhance the capacity of smallholder farmers to cope with climate change-related risks.

    Agricultural research institutions, he said, need support to scale up training in indigenous crops, crop seed back-up and plant breeding to help Malawi to be food secure in case of drought and other natural disasters.

    Given that the majority of poor people in Africa live in villages or rely on agriculture, and that agriculture paves the way for economic growth in the poorer nations, agricultural and rural development remain a major driver for the achievement of Millennium Development Goals which seek to end hunger and extreme poverty.

    Environmentally friendly agriculture such as the promotion of the growing of locally adapted indigenous food crops and rural development are key to this effort to attain MDGs by 2015.

    The promotion of crop diversity tackles the malnourishment component in food security and helps the poor to escape poverty as they are able to learn, work and care for themselves and their family members.

    If crop diversity issues are not addressed fully, hunger and over-reliance on food aid sets in motion an array of problems that perpetuates malnutrition, reduces the ability of adults to work and to give birth to healthy children, and erodes children's ability to learn and lead productive, healthy, and happy lives.

    Lack of promotion of crop diversity can undermine human development and the potential of most African countries to attain the MDGs.

    Africa, which is home to more than 50 000 known plant species, 1 000 mammal species and 1 500 bird species, is increasingly experiencing major losses of its large and diverse heritage of flora and fauna.

    According to the 2007 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation report, there are roughly a quarter million plant varieties available for agriculture but less than 3 percent of these are in use today.

    The UN agency is concerned that with disuse comes neglect and possibly neglect of the continent's plant food resources.

    FAO further points to another worrying trend -- that modern agriculture is concentrated on a small number of varieties designed for intensive farming.

    This, according to the report, has dramatically reduced the diversity of crop plant varieties available for agriculture, leading to accelerated genetic erosion on the continent.

    Supporting smallholder farmers to conserve crop diversity wherever possible and greater political commitment is vital to enhance food security in Africa.

    This can, at least, help bring the continent a step closer to attaining MDGs by 2015.

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    Monday, October 05, 2009

    Food Safety training was a big hit with Majuro farmers .

    The purpose of the training was to train farmers and their families on how to prepare, preserve and handle food properly (food safety practices). The week-long training program was held from September 14 to 18 and included both theoretical
    and application sides of food processing and food safety. The first two days of the
    training (Monday & Tuesday) were held at CMI’s Land Grant Arrak Campus focusing on Food Safety. From Wednesday to Friday the training was held at the Women’s Training Center in Food Training a Big Hit with Majuro Farmers Delap focusing on Food Processing. While most of the participants were Farmers, there were also representatives from Youth to Youth in Health (YTYIH), CMILand Grant and a few NGOs.
    Because of the training’s success and popularity, the Ministry of R&D will be exploring with the SPC Office in Pohnpei about the possibility of having
    another one before the end of the year. The training was conducted by Mrs. Mereseini Seniloli, the SPC DSAP Micronesia Coordinator, and Mrs. Apiame Cegumalua, Export Processing and Marketing Officer of SPC’s FACT Project. The Ministry of R&D extends
    a big kommool tata to CMI and to the Ministry of Internal Affairs for allowing the
    use of their facilities.

    Republic of the Marshall Islands Ministry of Resources and Development
    P.O. Box 1727 • Majuro, Marshall Islands MH 96960
    Phone: (692) 625-3206/4020 • Fax: (692) 625-7471
    Email: rndsec@gmail.com Uñare Peim

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    Tuesday, September 01, 2009

    Preserving the Bounty of Breadfruit

    UBC Reports | Vol. 54 | No. 12 | Dec. 4, 2008

    By Raina Ducklow and Bud Mortenson

    Any way you slice it, breadfruit is a big deal.

    A traditional Polynesian crop grown throughout the Pacific for more than 3,000 years, breadfruit’s diversity is now declining -- some varieties have already disappeared -- due to damage from tropical cyclones, climate change, and loss of cultural knowledge.

    Susan Murch, Canada Research Chair in Natural Products Chemistry at UBC Okanagan, hopes to not only preserve breadfruit from further decline, she’s working on ways to make it much more abundant -- improving food security in tropical regions and creating new food products for North American tables.

    “Every four seconds someone in the tropics dies of hunger. It is one of the biggest food security issues in the world at the moment,” says Murch. “Breadfruit is a tree that most people in North America have not heard of, but has huge value for food security. A single tree can produce 150 to 200 kilograms of food per year. But distribution of breadfruit to feed people who are starving has been limited by difficulties propagating and transporting the trees.”

    Breadfruit, which reproduces through suckers or root cuttings, doesn’t do well in transport. Murch points to some infamous history that links the breadfruit tree to the 1789 mutiny on the HMS Bounty.

    “The whole point of the Bounty’s journey was to go out to Oceania, to collect trees and bring them back to produce food in the Caribbean,” she says. “Part of the reason for the mutiny was that the ship’s fresh water was being used for the breadfruit trees, rather than allowing the sailors to drink it.”

    More than 200 years later, breadfruit continues to be a prized source of high-energy food, but it remains hard to reproduce and international quarantine requirements on root materials make distribution difficult. Only now is science beginning to make this invaluable tree easier to reproduce and send where it’s most needed.

    At a field station at the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) in Maui, Hawaii, Murch is working with a collection of 230 70-foot-tall breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) trees. The collection was established in the 1970s and 1980s by Diane Ragone, a world expert on breadfruit, and each tree is a unique variety collected from a different Pacific island, with different leaf shapes, nutritional composition and environmental requirements. It’s an important and rare collection, vulnerable to damage from a natural disaster such as one of the Pacific’s great cyclones.

    Murch’s team is eagerly developing new ways to maintain, conserve, mass propagate, and distribute the most beneficial traditional varieties using modern techniques of plant tissue culture and biotechnology.

    “My work is all about the nutrition in breadfruit, and the distribution of breadfruit,” Murch says, explaining that in Hawaii and at her UBC Okanagan lab, her team has learned how to grow the trees in bioreactors. Though many North American food crops are produced this way, Murch is the first to make it work with breadfruit, and this new way of reproducing breadfruit trees is already having a big impact on the plant’s distribution.

    Last year, Murch’s lab donated 7,500 trees for food security to tropical nations but she was quickly swamped with requests for more trees than she could possibly produce in the research facility. To produce enough trees, Murch has partnered with the NTBG, the government of Western Samoa, and a commercial horticultural company -- Cultivaris in San Diego, California -- to mass-produce and distribute trees.

    “If our research can have a positive impact on food security and provide food in regions where there isn’t enough food, that is a valuable contribution,” she says.

    In addition to distributing breadfruit trees in the tropics, Murch is investigating how to use the plant to improve nutrition in North America. Breadfruit fruits can be dried and ground to produce gluten-free flour high in several vitamins and protein, making it potentially useful as a food additive, supplement or hypoallergenic alternative to wheat flour in North America.

    Murch says that, overall, she wants to understand the role that plants play in human health. “Everything we eat comes from a plant or something that ate a plant,” says Murch. “The nutrients and phytochemicals we consume can greatly affect our wellbeing. Understanding the mechanisms of a plant has a huge impact on how human health will progress through the next 50 years and on how we can feed and care for the growing population in the world.”

    Find out more about Susan Murch’s breadfruit research at: www.ubc.ca/okanagan/chees/faculty/susmurch.html or www.ntbg.org/breadfruit.

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    Tuesday, August 04, 2009

    Coconut Crab Conservation in Vanuatu

    From : http://www.whl.travel/blog/?p=1291

    In April 2001, John and Silvana Nicholls, today owners and operators of Vanuatu Hotels, arrived in Vanuatu to launch and manage the new White Grass Ocean Resort on the island of Tanna. It was their intention to ensure that it would operate according to strict environmental guidelines, so they immediately declared it a bird sanctuary, protecting fowl from the indigenous practice of hunting and eating them. Although a parallel ‘turtle emergency rescue’ program of buying turtles captured by locals as a step in saving them from the cooking pot unfortunately had to be discontinued as it created a new industry – the
    capture of released turtles in order to sell them back – the resort nevertheless became the island’s de facto animal refuge, even providing veterinary assistance when need.

    As part of their efforts, the Nicholls’ also banned coconut crab from their menu (see more information), a practical step in helping to building the first and only coconut crab habitat in Vanuatu.

    “Instead of eating them, our guests could handle and photograph living crabs. The kids had a ball seeing, touching and hand-feeding these awesome creatures, which are coloured in beautiful greens and blues, rather than seeing them cooked red,” said John. “In order to immediately sensitise people to the unique, fun eco-experience in store for resort guests, I sometimes welcomed them with a giant coconut crab… a live one, that is!”

    Although their efforts initially made little impact, and maintaining the habitat was no easy task – these largest land-living crustacean can cut themselves out of any corner with their powerful claws and easily climb any surface, like the coconut trees from which they take their name – John and Silvana persisted.

    “When travelling to the capital, Port Vila, we were appalled to see coconut crabs sold in restaurants,” confirmed John. “The irony of it is that they are actually quite bland in flavour, hence inevitably covered with strong sauces to make them interesting to eat. There was quite a trade in coconut crabs and we knew this was not sustainable, as numbers were dwindling fast. When we contacted a few experts on the subject, our fears were confirmed: there was a real problem.”

    Predictions were that if coconut crab consumption could not be curbed, a number of islands in Vanuatu would feast them into extinction. The problem was not specific to the resort’s island of Tanna; it was true of many other islands as well.

    A White Grass Ocean Resort turtle emergency rescue program of buying turtles captured by locals had to be discontinued when released turtles were captured and sold back to the resort

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    Tuesday, July 14, 2009

    Nigeria:IITA begins preliminary on-farm trials of new yam growing technique

    The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in partnership with Nigerian farmers has begun preliminary trials of propagating yam through vine cuttings on farmers’ fields in Niger State, north central Nigeria.
    The success of the trials and adoption of the new yam growing technique will substantially cut down the volume of yams used by farmers as seed yams. “The technology will definitely save farmers the cost and pains of acquiring seed yams,” says, Joshua Aliyu, a staff with Niger State Agricultural Development Project, who is also working on the trials. “It is actually a rebirth of yam cultivation in our community,” he adds.

    The new yam growing technique has potential to eliminate the transmission of yam diseases (nematodes), which constitute considerable damage to yam tubers, according Dr. Hidehiko Kikuno, IITA’s Yam Physiologist and project leader.

    On February 15, IITA and partners announced a breakthrough in the propagation of yams through vine cuttings via a research funded by the Japanese government (MOFA, MAFF), the Sasakawa Africa Association, Tokyo University of Agriculture and the International Cooperation Center for Agricultural Education, Nagoya University, Japan. Other partners in the research include the Tokyo University of Agriculture; National Root Crops Research Institute - Umudike, Nigeria; Crop Research Institute, Kumashi, Ghana and the Institute of Agricultural Research for Development, Cameroon.

    The new yam growing technique makes use of vine cuttings planted in carbonized rice husk (CRH). After rooting and sprouting, the seedlings are transferred to the field or directly planted into nursery bed with CRH under shade.

    Kikuno says the abundance and availability of rice husks—the growth medium – in rural communities makes the research relevant.
    “This is because farmers can propagate the yam through vine cuttings by themselves,” he says.
    In sub-Saharan Africa where the cost of planting materials (seed yams) account for about 50 per cent of the total cost, the new technology is seen as an option that will not only cut down the cost of production of yams but also make available more yam tubers for human consumption.

    For more information, please contact:
    Jeffrey T. Oliver, o.jeffrey@cgiar.org
    Corporate Communications Officer (International) Godwin Atser, g.atser@cgiar.org Corporate Communications Officer (West Africa) Communication Office IITA - Headquarters Ibadan, Nigeria

    IITA - Headquarters
    Ibadan, Nigeria
    URL: www.iita.org

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009

    International consultation to chart way forward for Pacific coconut industry
    Thursday, 18 June 2009

    From : SPC

    A roundtable on increasing trade in Pacific coconut products is being held over 17–18 June in Fiji. The Asia Pacific Coconut Community-SPC Roundtable will discuss the latest trends in coconut processing and market prospects.

    During the official opening of the meeting, the Director of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Land Resources Division, Mr ‘Aleki Sisifa, acknowledged the political support of the governments of Fiji and Samoa and welcomed the Hon. Joketani Cokanasiga, Fijian Minister of Primary Industries, and Hon. Taua Kitiona, Samoa Minister for Agriculture. The meeting is being held at the Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi.

    Mr Sisifa said that the Pacific region was experiencing unprecedented and accelerating change, with the population of Pacific island countries and territories having more than doubled over the last 50 years.

    “We have made our voices heard in international forums about the real threat of losing land, even whole islands, to sea level rise, and the potential for increasingly extreme events associated with climate change,” Mr Sisifa said.
    He said land degradation and associated floods and soil erosion had resulted in serious siltation of rivers and coastal areas. Soils were becoming more saline, drier, poorer in nutrients and richer in pests as fallow periods shortened.

    “People farm on steeper and more marginal land as industries and settlements are opened up on arable land. More than 70% of our bio-diversity has been eroded over the past 50 years.”

    ‘However, the coconut provides a sustainable and calming influence. It has been with us since we settled these islands and continues to be a distinctive characteristic of the Pacific landscape.’

    “The coconut has always been, still is, and will continue to be regarded as the “Tree of Life” because of its multiplicity of uses. Its leaves, fruits, stems and roots provide shelter, food, handicrafts and other cultural and traditional uses, as well as income for communities living in rural areas and outer islands.”

    Mr Sisifa said that the coconut forms the basis of robust and sustainable multilayer farming systems that have been developed in Pacific countries and territories over generations. Intercropping of coconuts with food and cash crops and running cattle and small animals under coconuts have proven to be sustainable types of land use suited to the geographic, climatic and socio-economic conditions of Pacific Islands.

    Research and development on the coconut has been occurring since the colonial days. More recently, the focus has been on their cultivation and maintenance.

    Helping countries and territories to increase their export trade is a new area of focus for SPC with work being carried out through its European Union funded FACT (Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade) project.

    Mr Sisifa expressed SPC’s gratitude to the European Union for this assistance.

    The FACT project aims to sustainably increase the quality and range of exports of Pacific agriculture and forestry products, and to contribute to the integration of the 14 Pacific ACP countries into the regional and global economy.

    The meeting, which is being attended by 100 participants from around the region, will end with participants charting a way forward for the region’s coconut industry.

    For more information, please contact lrdhelpdesk@spc.intThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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    14th Australasian Plant Breeding & 11th SABRAO Conference:

    Cairns Convention Centre, Cairns, Tropical North Queensland, AUSTRALIA
    10-14 August 2009

    Combined meeting of the 14th Australasian Plant Breeding Conference (APBC) &
    11th Congress of the Society for the Advancement of Breeding Research in Asia and
    Oceania (SABRAO)

    The tropics are home to more than 50% of the world’s population and 80% of its
    biodiversity. Tropical nations are growing at an unprecedented rate, between 5 and
    10% annually, and food security and sustainable livelihoods are becoming
    increasingly the most critical challenges facing the tropics. This conference brings
    together international experts working to overcome these challenges, while focusing
    on a main theme of “Contemporary Crop Improvement — A Tropical View.”
    The conference will further focus on the following key themes:
     Environmental challenges and opportunities
     Food security for the Tropics
     Tools for the Future (including Education and Training)
     Tropical Livelihoods (including Healthy Foods and R&D Investment)
    For more information and to register for the conference, please contact the conference managers:
    W: www.plantbreeding09.com.au
    E: info@plantbreeding09.com.au
    T: +61 7 3858 5515

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    Sunday, June 21, 2009

    Pacific region joins global system for conserving and using plant genetic resources for food and agriculture

    From : SPC

    Wednesday, 16 June 2009, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands — Recognizing that international cooperation and open exchange of genetic resources are both essential for food security, the Pacific region has placed the collections held by the Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT) in the Multilateral System of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA).
    The Hon. Taua Kitiona, Samoa’s Minister of Agriculture, representing other ministers and the region, attended the 3rd Session of the Governing Body of the ITPGRFA in Tunis, and in the opening ceremony on 1 June formally placed these collections into the treaty system.
    With the ITPGRFA, crops that produce our food – breads, curries, tortillas – are put into a common pool. The treaty facilitates access to those crops for all users and ensures fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from their use.
    The ITPGRFA is a global treaty for food security and sustainable agriculture, and is vital for ensuring the continued availability of the plant genetic resources that countries need to feed their people. Crop diversity is an essential tool for generating crop varieties that can help farmers manage climate change. Like all other nations of the world, Pacific Island countries and territories do not have enough crop diversity within their borders to sustain productive systems.
    Outbreaks of new pests and diseases can wreak havoc with crops that do not include resistant varieties. This was dramatically illustrated in Samoa in the early 1990s when taro leaf blight totally destroyed taro production because of the susceptibility of the cultivar being used. Climate change is likely to bring other similar challenges.
    In 1996, to address these challenges, Pacific Ministers of Agriculture attending a meeting hosted by SPC resolved to put in place policies and programmes to conserve, protect and use their plant genetic resources effectively for development. In response, SPC established a regional genebank in 1998, now known as the Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT).
    SPC’s work on genetic resources has not stopped with the establishment of the genebank. An active network – PAPGREN – was established in 2004 to strengthen capacity in the region for conservation and utilisation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. Much has been achieved by both the Centre and PAPGREN in raising awareness of the importance of crop diversity in the region, especially in light of current challenges.
    In their second regional conference in Samoa in 2008, Pacific Ministers and Heads of Agriculture and Forestry acknowledged that although the Pacific has significant diversity, there is no assurance that national biodiversity will be sufficient to sustain food production in the future, especially given the projected effects of climate change. The region must be able to access the global pool of genetic diversity, which can be achieved through ratification of the treaty. At the same time, the ministers also saw the importance of putting in place mechanisms to establish the key collections of the Pacific within the global system, enabling the region to contribute to global food security and be part of a global network that will support the sustainable conservation and use of these collections in the future.
    “The signing of these agreements by SPC has been fully endorsed by the Pacific region, recognising we live in one world despite the miles between us. To survive the many challenges of this century, we need to work together, sharing our resources and importantly further recognising that the genetic diversity found in genebanks today may become the most important resource we have in shaping an effective response to climate change,” said the Hon. Taua Kitiona in his address to the governing body of the Treaty.
    For more information, please contact lrdhelpdesk@spc.int

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    Global Crop Diversity Trust enters into longterm
    grant agreement with Secretariat of the Pacific Community to safeguard collections of yam and edible aroids.
    The agreement comes into effect as the Secretariat signs International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources and places collection into the Treaty’s multilateral system.

    ROME, ITALY (June 4, 2009) - The Global Crop Diversity Trust recently entered
    into a grant agreement with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) to
    provide USD 50,000 annually, in perpetuity, towards the long-term conservation of
    the important collections of yam and edible aroids (taro) held in-trust by the Centre
    for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT) on behalf of the Pacific region. This is the first long-term grant provided by the Trust to a collection outside the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The Trust and SPC are very
    enthusiastic about this partnership and what it means for the sustainable conservation and utilisation of the region’s important crop diversity, and therefore food and nutritional security and economic growth in the Pacific region. The importance of crop diversity to sustainable development in the Pacific region is becoming more and more apparent, especially as farmers try to maintain and improve food production in the face of a changing climate.
    SPC is highly committed to the long-term conservation of its region’s crop diversity.
    A significant amount of funding has been made available for the construction of a
    new storage centre, which will provide excellent facilities for long-term conservation of plant genetic resources. The centre will open in September 2009.
    The grant agreement with the Trust came into effect when SPC member countries
    signed the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
    in April 2009, an event manifested by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries for
    Samoa who symbolically placed the Pacific collections (held in-trust by SPC) into the
    multilateral system of the Treaty in Tunis on June 1. “The signing of these agreements by SPC has been fully endorsed by the Pacific region, recognizing we live in one world, despite the miles that often exist between us all, and to survive the many challenges of this century we need to work together, sharing our resources and importantly further recognizing that the genetic diversity found in genebanks today may become the most important resource we have in shaping an effective response to climate change“, says Minister Afioga‐Taua Tavaga Kitiona Seuala in his address to the governing body of the Treaty. The germplasm will thus now be made available by SPC to the international community in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Treaty

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    Sunday, May 24, 2009

    Seeds from Africa for research in Norway

    From : The Citizen

    By Ray Naluyaga

    Over 5,000 samples of seed varieties are expected to be shipped from Nigeria to Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway next month.

    The shipment, to be undertaken by Africa's leading Agricultural research partner, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), will be the second to be made to the facility in Norway in a move aimed at preserving the genetic resources of African crops.

    "This year's shipment will involve about 5,000 seed samples of soybean, maize, bambara nut, cowpea, and African yam bean, in more than 10 seed boxes,"said Dr Dominique Dumet, head of IITA's Genetic Resources Center.

    In a statement released in Dar es Salaam by IITA regional office, Dr Dumet said the whole aim of the shipment to Svalbard is about conservation of genetic resources and agro biodiversity for humanity.

    According to the statement, agro-biodiversity is a term that captures all forms of life directly relevant to agriculture, from crop varieties to crop wild relatives, livestock, and many other organisms such as soil fauna, weeds, pests, and predators seen to be disappearing faster than any time since the demise of the dinosaurs.

    According to the United Nations Environment Programme's 4th Global Environment Outlook report, the ongoing loss of biodiversity will restrict future development options for rich and poor countries with negative impacts on food security.

    To stem the loss of agro biodiversity, the IITA Genetic Resources Center, located in Ibadan, Nigeria, has over the years, conserved more than 28,000 accessions of IITA mandate crops.

    The centre houses the world's largest collection of cowpea-a key staple in Africa, offering an inexpensive source of protein- with over 15,000 unique varieties from 88 countries around the world.

    The Svalbard Seed Vault is another safety net designed to hold duplicated genetic resources.

    "It actually serves as a backup for genetic diversity. For instance, there are some genes in the seeds that we are conserving now that might solve problems of future generations, such as lack of resistance to diseases or tolerance for drought," Dr Dumet explained.

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    Hunt for 'climate-ready' crops accelerates as organizations search seed collections worldwide

    From : FirstScience-UK

    - 21 May 2009
    By Burness Communications
    Amid Predictions that Climate Change Will Create Hostile Growing Conditions, partners Look to Crop Collections for future varieties
    ROME, ITALY (22 May 2009)—The Global Crop Diversity Trust announced today numerous new grant awards to support scientists to explore the millions of seed samples maintained in 1,500 crop genebanks around the world. They will search for biodiversity critically needed to protect food production from the ravages of climate change.

    The awards support a wide range of innovative projects, including a search in Southeast Asia and the Pacific for bananas that are resistant to banana streak virus, which will likely become more problematic with climate change; transferring traits from a wild to a cultivated variety of potato that convey resistance to a soil-borne pathogen responsible for bacterial wilt; a search for novel traits with tolerance to heat and drought stresses in Chilean maize crop collections; a project in India to find pearl millet that can handle scorching temperatures; and a project to increase the ability of maize to cope with erratic rains, while increasing its nutritional quality for small-scale, marginal farms in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    Working together with the Trust in the effort will be the Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity (GIPB).

    "We want to support scientists to probe crop genebanks for natural traits that will allow farm production to stay one step ahead of climate change," said Cary Fowler, Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. "The data are now clear that rising temperatures, radically altered precipitation patterns and new infestations of plant pests are on the near horizon, and we need to look to our crop genebanks for the traits that will help us avoid a crisis."

    By the turn of the century, scientists now predict that temperatures during growing seasons in the tropics and subtropics are destined to be even hotter than what are now considered extreme temperatures. New data also show steadily dryer conditions in many regions. But there is widespread concern, particularly in the developing world, that plant breeding efforts are not moving fast enough to develop new varieties that can withstand these stresses and enable farmers to avoid steep drops in food production

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