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?



    Wednesday, April 28, 2004

    More on taro in PNG

    Assessment of diversity using agro-morphological traits for selecting a core sample of Papua New Guinea taro (Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott) collection
    T. Okpul, D. Singh, T. Gunua and M.E. Wagih
    Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 51: 671–678, 2004.

    This just in from Davinder Singh (singhdav@bigpond.com) on the above paper referred to a few days ago:

    For those interested, this publication compiles 276 accessions collected in PNG under the TANSAO network. It took more than two years to publish from time of submission. We are attempting to separately publish the results for the entire collection (850 accessions) which was done under TaroGen and will include molecular data too.

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    Tuesday, April 27, 2004

    OCEANIAFOOD proceedings online

    Lois Englberger would like to share news of a new publication which includes information on food analysis work in Pohnpei and in the FSM. It is on the internet at the following web site:


    This is the proceedings of the OCEANIAFOODS meeting in Brisbane, Australia, in 2002. As pointed out in the Foreword, OCEANIAFOODS is a regional group of the International Network of Food Data Systems (INFOODS), working to facilitate interaction and collaboration amongst the three regional member food composition programs, ie Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. Conferences are held every two to four years.

    The Proceedings summary has this to say about the work in FSM (page 8): In FSM there has been some important research to identify indigenous foods that are sources of carotenoids, in an effort to combat the growing prevalence of vitamin A deficiency in this country. The challenges of conducting an analytical program in FSM were very different to those experienced in, for example, Australia and New Zealand, reflecting the diversity of conditions and resources in countries in Oceania. However the achievements of the FSM project demonstrated what is possible when researchers in different parts of the region work together.

    Here are the two papers in the document that relate to work in FSM (and Pohnpei):

    Englberger L, Elymore J. Country Report: Federated States of Micronesia. Proceedings of the Sixth OCEANIAFOODS: Brisbane, Australia, 8-9 February, 2002. Cunningham J and Trevisan L (Ed). Food Standards Australia, New Zealand, 2004. pages 38-41.

    Englberger L, Marks GC, Fitzgerald, Schierle J, Aalbersberg W, Chand K. Analyses for provitamin A carotenoids in the Pacific region: banana, taro, breadfruit, and pandanus. Proceedings of the Sixth OCEANIAFOODS: Brisbane, Australia, 8-9 February, 2002. Cunningham J and Trevisan L (Ed). Food Standards Australia, New Zealand, 2004. pages 53-59.

    Dr Lois Englberger
    Island Food Community of Pohnpei
    Research Advisor
    P. O. Box 2299
    Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941 FM
    Federated States of Micronesia

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    Monday, April 26, 2004

    Another interesting taro paper
    Assessment of diversity using agro-morphological traits for selecting a core sample of Papua New Guinea taro (Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott) collection
    T. Okpul, D. Singh, T. Gunua and M.E. Wagih
    Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 51: 671–678, 2004.

    Abstract Agro-morphological variation in the taro germplasm of Papua New Guinea was estimated using 18 polymorphic descriptor states to aid in the selection of a core sample for the formation of a regional core collection currently being assembled under the Taro Network for Southeast Asia and Oceania. A total of 276 accessions were stratified into five homogenous groups by using a hierarchical approach according to botanical variety (dasheen or eddoe), altitude (high or low) and stolon formation (present or absent). In selecting the core sample, the eddoe group were directly included because of their rarity in the germplasm collection. While, a ten per cent sample fraction within each group of the dasheen types were selected based on principal component scores. A total of 31 accessions were selected for the core sample. Multivariate analysis of the core sample revealed wide variation, which was mainly influenced by botanical variety, plant height, lamina colour and variegation, petiole colour, corm shape, corm weight and palatability. Cluster analysis identified two homogeneous clusters based on predominant characters that should be useful to breeders. The results obtained in this study provide useful background information for further development of a national core collection.

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    Monday, April 19, 2004

    Important taro publication

    Characterisation of taro (Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott) genetic resources in Southeast Asia and Oceania
    Lebot V.; Prana M.S.; Kreike N.; van Heck H.; Pardales J.; Okpul T.; Gendua T.; Thongjiem M.; Hue H.; Viet N.; Yap T.C.
    Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution, June 2004, vol. 51, iss. 4, pp. 381-392(12)
    Kluwer Academic Publishers

    Abstract Morphological characterisation of 2,298 accessions collected in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu was conducted with 23 standardised descriptors and data bases were developed. More than 2,000 cultivars were electrophoresed on starch gels and six enzyme systems were revealed successfully (MDH, PGI, ICD, PGD, ME, SKDH). Each country selected a core sample for sharing composed of elite cultivars representing approximately 10% of the total number of accessions. Ploidy levels were determined using flow cytometry. AFLP fingerprinting was conducted on all cultivars included in the core sample. Meristems were excised and these genotypes were tissue cultured, indexed for DMVand distributed to participating countries. InVanuatu, 378 cultivars were grown in a common plot, planted and harvested the same day, and their corms were boiled and submitted to a blind panel test composed of ten participants. Their eating quality was scored on a scale from 1 to 6 (excellent). The physico-chemical characteristics of 31 cultivars, representing different morphotypes and including excellent and poor cultivars, were analysed to assess the extent of variation existing for traits related to corm quality (dry matter content, minerals, lipids, proteins, gelatinisation temperature, amylose, glucose, fructose, saccharose, maltose and starch content). The results of these studies indicate that the genetic base of the cultivars is narrow. Only six zymotypes represent more than 51% of the total number of accessions electrophoresed and only 21 zymotypes represent more than the two thirds (70%) of the total number of accessions. AFLP analysis confirm the isozymes results and two distinct genepools are revealed, one in S.E. Asia and the other in the Pacific. It implies that crosses between accessions originating from only one country are not desirable and it is appropriate to cross cultivars from both genepools. Except for the temperature of gelatinisation, all physicochemical characteristics are variable. Good taste is correlated with high dry matter, starch and amylose contents.

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    Tuesday, April 13, 2004

    Descriptors for aibika

    The National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) in Papua New Guinea has published a minimum descriptor list for aibika (bele), Abelmoschus manihot. Written by Rosa Kambuou, Janet Paofa and Roselyn Winston of the NARI Dry Lowlands Programme, Laloki, Central Province, where the PNG national aibika collection of some 113 accessions is maintained, this is the first of several planned such lists for the important crops of the region. You can obtain copies from the NARI Publications Unit (nari@datec.com.pg), or from me (LuigiG@spc.int). The descriptor list comes together with an Excel spreadsheet for ease of recording.

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    International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) to Become Law

    As many of you will know, the ITPGRFA is to come into force in less than 3 months. Below is the FAO press release announcing this. Prof. Terry Price of Vudal University in PNG would like to draw attention to the recent paper on the ITPGRFA in the Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 55(3) 307-313. You can find an abstract at http://www.publish.csiro.au/nid/40/paper/AR03161.htm.

    48 countries have ratified first ever legally binding treaty on biodiversity for food and agriculture

    31 March 2004, Rome -- Twelve European countries and the European Community have ratified the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, triggering the 90-day countdown to the Treaty's entry into force, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced today.

    The latest ratifications bring to 48 the number of countries worldwide that have ratified the agreement, which will therefore enter into force on 29 June 2004.

    The Treaty will ensure that plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, which are vital for human survival, are conserved and sustainably used and that benefits from their use are equitably and fairly distributed.

    "This is a legally binding treaty that will be crucial for the sustainability of agriculture," said FAO Director-General Dr Jacques Diouf. "The Treaty is an important contribution to the achievement of the World Food Summit's major objective of halving the number of hungry people by 2015".

    "Years of multilateral negotiations under the auspices of FAO's Intergovernmental Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture have finally been successful," said José Esquinas-Alcázar, Secretary of the Commission.

    "The Treaty provides an international legal framework that will be a key element in ensuring food security, now and in the future. The challenge is now to ensure that the treaty becomes operative in all countries."


    Most of the world's poor farmers depend on the use of genetic biodiversity for their income and living.

    Experience and knowledge gained over many generations have made possible the development and conservation of thousands of agricultural crop varieties which otherwise would have been lost forever.

    The Treaty recognizes and protects this legacy and develops the innovative principle of Farmers' Rights.


    Despite the efforts of farmers, there has been a dramatic reduction of biodiversity. Since the beginning of agriculture, around 10,000 species have been used in food and fodder production. Today just 150 crops feed most human beings and just 12 crops provide 80% of food energy (wheat, rice, maize and potato alone provide 60%).

    Some of the poorest countries are among the richest in terms of genetic diversity.


    Access to a wide range of genetic resources will make possible the development of a greater variety of food products, which will improve the lives and diets of consumers in both rural and urban areas.

    The Treaty will institute, for the first time, a multilateral system of facilitated access and benefits-sharing for the crops and forages most important for food security.

    Scientists, international research centres and plant breeders from public and private organizations will benefit from enhanced access to genetic biodiversity.

    The multilateral system will also ensure the fair sharing of benefits derived from the use of genetic resources, in particular for farmers in developing countries that have for centuries contributed to the conservation of genetic resources.

    The system also provides for the obligatory sharing of monetary benefits arising from utilisation, including from commercialisation of new varieties by the private sector.

    For more information, contact: Nuria Felipe Soria, Information Officer, FAO (nuria.felipesoria@fao.org)

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    Information on native and traditional Pacific Island agroforestry trees

    A new project called the Traditional Tree Initiative—Pacific Islands will meet the needs of extension agents, producers, and land users for information on important agroforestry species. The project will produce a series of 6–12 page fact sheets covering 50 of the most important tree species in Oceania. Each fact sheet will provide detailed, practical information on products, uses, interplanting applications, environmental requirements, and propagation methods. Experts from around the Pacific are authoring the fact sheets, which will be freely available in electronic form via the internet. To receive project updates, please send an email to the project coordinator at cre@agroforestry.net. The project is funded by the USDA and SPC/GTZ. Co-sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information:

    Craig Elevitch
    Permanent Agriculture Resources
    P.O. Box 428
    Holualoa, HI 96725 USA
    Tel: 808-324-4427; Fax: 808-324-4129
    Traditional Tree Initiative — Pacific Islands: http://agroforestry.net/proj/tradtree.html
    Agroforestry Guides for Pacific Islands: http://agroforestry.net/afg/book.html

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