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, September 04, 2003

    Taro Research in Samoa

    The following article by Samisoni Pareti appeared 4 September 2003 in Islands Business Magazine.

    The future of a research program aimed at assisting Samoa recover from the debilitating effects of the taro leaf blight (TLB) is in doubt now that funding will dry up at the end of the year.

    Australia's international aid agency, AusAID, has been funding the taro research work based at the University of the South Pacific's Alafua Campus in Apia for the past five years. It is jointly implementing the program with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

    "AusAID has funded this project for two phases, phase 1 (1998-2000) and phase 2 (2001-2003)," explains Tolo Iosefa, the local scientist coordinating the program. "But funding is due to end in December. SPC is committed to sustaining certain activities of this project and so it is hoped that the breeding program in Samoa will continue."

    In fact, taro farmers in Samoa will expect nothing else given that Iosefa's work has not only seen the introduction of several new species of taro in the country, but it is also assisting greatly in getting what was once a major exporting commodity back on its feet.

    Before the onslaught of the infectious disease in 1993, taro exports in Samoa peaked at S$9.5 million. The following year, this fell dramatically to a mere S$0.2 million, and other neighboring islands like Fiji quickly filled the vacuum as a leading exporter of the product. While AusAID has been funding the TaroGen program in Alafua, Iosefa said this type of research had begun much earlier, in 1996.

    Since then, the breeding program, which included the germination of taro plants using tissue culture, had produced ten taro species that could replace Taro Niue, the local taro species that almost got wiped out by TLB. As a result of the disease, several exotic taro cultivars from Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Philippines were reported to have tolerance to TLB.

    "After two years of on-farm evaluation, we found out that Palau-10 is the most resistant to TLB and with the highest yield," Iosefa said. "Talo Fili (PSB-G2) from the Philippines has the best eating quality with other Palau cultivars and two of Federated States of Micronesia's cultivars (Pwetepwet and Toantal) are tolerant to TLB and with acceptable eating qualities."

    Iosefa was choosing his words carefully. The word in Samoa is that many still preferred the taste of Taro Niue, lamenting that the new breeds are still far off the mark when it comes to real taro flavor.

    "Our breeding program for TLB resistant varieties is a long term research exercise. It is still on-going and may take another three to five years before we find what the Samoan people are looking for." An option Iosefa and his team at Alafua would like to look at is to continue breeding, mixing Talo Niue with Palau-10, which is why it is imperative to ensure funding continues for TaroGen. In 2000 and again in 2001, TaroGen through Samoa's Ministry of Agriculture released six "improved lines" of taro.

    "Farmers liked it," said Iosefa. "USP's taro improvement project also released several clones for farmers to test under their local environment and management."

    One of the benefits of the breeding program is the improvement in the tissue bank for Alafua's Tissue Culture Unit. Anthony Palupi, manager of the unit, said his unit duplicated the SPC's collection, and is concentrating on improving the multiplication rate of taro suckers.

    From a sucker, Palupi said his unit could extract tissue for at least 70 to 200 new suckers.

    Space has become a problem for the tissue unit, and SPC provided funding for the provision of a new sterile kitchen and bigger storage. The devastation caused by taro blight in Samoa had raised the need for island countries to observe strict quarantine regulations and move away from intensive monoculture.

    "There shouldn't be a reliance on one variety for the domestic and export markets," said Iosefa.

    There's also the need for genetic diversity in the region so breeding programs should be continued. We also should not just use Pacific germplasm. Exotic germplasm including those from Asia should be introduced. Genetic diversity in the Pacific is relatively limited. Because of this need for diversity, another major lesson learnt is we have to have germplasm exchanges between the countries and from outside the region. "But this germplasm exchanges should respect the quarantine regulations of the countries."

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