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
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
Interested in GIS?
Thursday, December 19, 2002
Posted 12:55 PM by Luigi
Thanks to Jeremy Cherfas for keeping an eye on my spelling!! Happy New Year, Jeremy!!
Wednesday, December 18, 2002
Posted 8:34 PM by Luigi
An interesting initiative:
The Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation
Inventory of Regional Conservation Activities
Designed to help increase effective conservation, the Inventory is a dynamic, living record of conservation projects and activities in the Pacific Islands, providing
- Information on current conservation activities in the Pacific Islands Region in order to increase effective conservation action
- A means for keeping this information current, updated and easily accessible
- Contact details for key players in conservation in this region for the purpose of increased collaboration
- A general overview of activities in the region to bring newcomers quickly up to speed.
The Inventory of Regional Conservation Activities is supported by:
* South Pacific Regional Environment Programme
* New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAID)
* The Nature Conservancy
* World Wildlife Fund
* The University of the South Pacific
Posted 6:34 PM by Luigi
Mr Apaitia Macanawai, from Fiji, was awarded the Master of Agriculture degree by USP last week. The title of his thesis was "Epidemiology of Taro Bacilliform Virus in Samoa." He also won the Gold Medal and Distillery Prize for best thesis submitted in Agriculture and Biology. Apaitia's work was funded by the ACIAR virus indexing project associated with TaroGen.
Posted 4:51 PM by Luigi
Just sent out this PAPGREN Update No. 3.
First of all, let me apologize for falling a bit behind with these updates of PAPGREN activities. The past couple of months have been a bit busy, and I just wanted to wait until we had a few things out of the way before sending a final update for 2002. However, I've been keeping a regular log on the Internet, which you can check it out for some more details of what's been going on. Click "archives" for entries for previous weeks. I've also been putting in there all kinds of items I think might be of interest to people working on PGR in the Pacific, such as links to news items, websites and publications. If you've got a piece of information you'd like to share with the PGR community in the Pacific, let me know and I'll put it in. Let me know if you find this "weblog" useful, I'll try to update it at least a few times a week.
The main things that have happened are:
1. We organized national PGR stakeholder consultations in Papua New Guinea with NARI and in Fiji with MASLR in November. These were both extremely interesting exercises which came up with some clear priorities for work in these countries, and also established national coordinating mechanisms. We're still working on the reports, but I'll send these out as soon as they're ready (and also put some highlights on the weblof, of course).
2. We also held theTaroGen TGRC meeting at the end of November here in Suva, followed by a one-day meeting to discuss recent PAPGREN activities and plans and also come up with some ideas for breadfruit genetic resources conservation and use in the region. I've just sent out draft reports on these last deliberations to meeting participants and once I get feedback and finalize them, I'll send them out to all of you, and also put summaries on the weblog.
3. We obtained some funding from FAO to carry out in Fiji and PNG surveys of the activities that have been carried out in the past few years in the framework of implementation of the Global Plan of Action for PGRFA. To remind you, the GPA was a set of priority activities agreed by the 150+ countries that attended the ICPPGR conference in Leipzig, Germany in 1996. You can get more information here.
4. We have also been continuing to organize the 3rd Taro Symposium, planned for next May here in Fiji. There's financial backing from SPC and FAO, and we're hoping for a contribution from CIRAD and others too. We have a leaflet with some further information and a call for papers that I can send you if you're interested. A website is almost ready. I hope many of you will come.
5. The Biodiversity and Conservation course at USP came to an end. We helped mark papers and exams. All 8 students passed, with reasonably good grades. We really hope to continue this collaboration with USP in the future, and perhaps expand it.
Finally, let me take this opportunity of wishing you all the best for the holidays, and a happy, prosperous and peaceful 2003.
Posted 3:37 PM by Luigi
Have you ever wondered how much Pacific data is available on the web, and how good it is? Well, you're not the first one. Check this out.
Monday, December 16, 2002
Posted 1:26 PM by Luigi
Samoans get a food booklet to help prepare for cyclones
Apia (PINA Nius Online, 15 December 2002)
How do you turn disasters into an opportunity to put development on the fast track? In Samoa a United Nations inter-agency theme group has launched a booklet on combating the impacts of cyclones on coastal and marine areas. It focuses on ways to ensure people have enough safe and nutritious food despite cyclones.
The booklet has been put together by the inter-agency theme group on Rural Development and Food Security. This group is one of the initiatives by the United Nations agencies in Samoa to support the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
Weather experts have recently warned that Samoa is one of the countries facing an increased risk of a cyclone in the South Pacific hurricane season, which is just beginning. This is because of the El Nino weather phenomenon. During an El Nino period, countries at higher risk to tropical cyclones are those in the lower latitudes and in the central parts of the region. This means Samoa, Tokelau, Cook Islands, Niue and French Polynesia.
The United Nations agencies theme group said there is a need to enhance public awareness on factors such as how cyclones threaten food security and ways to mitigate this. The booklet looks at ways of handling land-based food crops before, during and after cyclones. It provides information on the effects of cyclones on coastal and marine areas and ways to minimise damage.
As well it introduces readers to concepts of long-term sustainable use and management practices of aquatic resources. These are necessary to lessen adverse impact on cyclones and enable faster recovery of affected areas.Increased resilience or faster recovery of damaged coastal and aquatic habitats, which are sources of fish and seafoods, would help access to safe and nutritious food.
The United Nations Development Programme's Apia office provided SAT$8000 (US$2500) towards the publication. UNDP Resident Representative Joyce Yu said: “The release of this booklet signals a continuing effort between the United Nations Country Team and in particular the Rural Development and Food Security Theme Group and also government in addressing disaster issues.”
Seumanutafa Malaki Iakopo, Samoa's Director of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, expressed appreciation and support. He noted that the island ecosystems are vulnerable to any cyclones. The information contained in the booklet will be widely used not only by the ministry but also the Samoan public, Seumanutafa said.
Tuesday, December 10, 2002
Posted 5:01 PM by Luigi
An interesting analysis of the Challenges and lessons in plant variety protection for Africa by Phillipe Cullet of the International Environmental Law Research Centre:
What are the challenges that African countries face in adopting plant variety protection through intellectual property rights regimes? What lessons can African countries draw from the Indian experience? Africa Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) research suggests that the introduction of monopoly rights is not appropriate for most sub-Saharan countries. What plant variety protection regime would be suitable?
The issue of plant variety protection has become prominent since the adoption of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement. The Agreement requires that patents should be available for inventions in all fields of technology and specifically orders the introduction of a form of legal protection on plant varieties, but does not impose their protection through patents. However, African countries have generally been slow in taking up the challenges of devising plant variety protection measures.
The study suggests that African states should take advantage of the potential they have to devise a property rights system adapted to their own needs and conditions and should avoid any system involving the introduction of monopoly or exclusionary rights, such as patents or plant breeders’ rights. Generally, monopoly rights are likely to have a number of impacts on farmers’ agricultural practices and lives in sub-Saharan countries, including the following:
- Since in most sub-Saharan countries, subsistence agriculture remains dominant, it is impossible in this situation to assume that farmers innovate only to make a monetary profit.
- Farmers’ knowledge is often less individualistic than scientific knowledge produced in laboratories.
- One of the most direct impacts of patents is to raise the price of patented seeds compared to other seeds.
- Monopoly rights have the potential to conflict with established agricultural management practices of small holder farmers.
- Monopoly rights have generally not been known to foster conservation of biological diversity or promote its sustainable use.
In India, in the field of plant variety protection, the necessity to develop a response to TRIPS has led to a number of proposals by governmental and non-governmental institutions. The Indian experience is rich in lessons for the development of property rights regimes in African countries, including:
- Operating within a monopoly rights system which only regards state-of-the art knowledge, it is unlikely that local communities will substantially benefit from this new opportunity.
- Biodivesrity registers are an excellent tool to counter groundless patent applications.
- While plant variety legislation is the central element of a plant variety protection regime at the domestic level, it is not the only relevant piece of legislation.
Policy implications include:
- Inclusion of biosafety provision as part of plant variety protection legislation.
- A system aiming at providing food security and broadly fostering sustainable environmental management should establish property rights whose holders are not limited to one specific category of actor in agricultural management.
- An alternative system should recognise that the different actors do not all have the same motivation for innovating.
Source: "Plant Variety Protection in Africa: Towards Compliance with TRIPS Agreement", Biopolicy International 23, by P. Cullet, 2001
Funded by: African Centre for Technology Studies
Date: 4 November 2002
International Environmental Law Research Centre
14, rue Lissignol
Tel: + 41 22741 0442
Fax: + 41 22741 0442
Monday, December 09, 2002
Posted 3:05 PM by Luigi
I've been on leave for a few days, but noticed this on my return on the WWF-Pacific website.
New Caledonia Dry Forest: Rediscovery of an endemic plant.
Saving the last remnant patches of dry forest spread over the western coast of New Caledonia is the aim of the New Caledonia Dry Forest Conservation Programme. Covering no more than 45km², this area represents the last percentage (1%) of the original surface of this very particular ecosystem. Since October 2001, WWF with 8 other partners have been involved in this project.
In 1988, the species Pittosporum tanianum, was discovered by the Institute of Research for Development (IRD). There were only 2 plants left on Lepredour Island (Southern Province) after devastation by rabbits and deer. One of these plants died in 1992 and the second one was never found again. In 1994, the species was declared extinct to science.
Seven years later, the 23rd of May 2002, Bernard Suprin, a botanist from the Office of Natural Resources (Southern Province), a partner of the programme, found 2 trees on Lepredour Island. Measures of emergency have been taken at once; a first fruit has been harvested and seeds extracted for replanting. At the same time, metallic protection has been implemented around the 2 existing plants, and a project of fencing has been started. The next months will let us know the success of these efforts!
Sunday, December 01, 2002
Posted 1:07 PM by Luigi
Last week was very busy, with the following meetings taking place here in and around Suva:
1. The Fiji National PGR Workshop, held on Monday and Tuesday at Koronivia Research Station. Priorities for ex situ and in situ conservation and germplasm use were identified, and a national coordinating mechanism proposed. Some 30 people from the government sector participated.
2. The Taro Genetic Resources Committee meeting at SPC on Thursday. The considerable achievements of the TaroGen project in the past 6 months, and plans for the next half year, were discussed.
3. The Regional Breadfruit Genetic Resources Consultation at SPC on Friday. After presentations on regional ex situ conservation, plant health problems in Micronesia and variation in nutritional quality, proposals for action were discussed and agreed.
I'll post details later on.
Agrobiodiversity Weblog: For discussions of conservation and sustainable use of the genetic resources of crops, livestock and their wild relatives.