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?
Sunday, August 29, 2004
Posted 2:36 PM by Luigi
PAPGREN course on PGR documentation held
PAPGREN organized a course on PGR documentation on 9-13 August 2004 at the SPC Media Centre, Suva, Fiji. Some 12 people participated, from 7 Pacific Island Countries. Documentation was chosen as the topic in response to information gathered in previous network meetings and also by means of an email questionnaire sent out to assess training needs. The SPC PGR and RGC Advisers were the main resource people. The course included lectures by various resource people, practical exercises, demonstrations, group discussions, presentations by participants, and a field trip to Koronivia and Nadurulolo Research Stations, just outside Suva. All participants took home a folder containing a large number of resources, including handouts of the main presentations, descriptor lists and other materials relevant to PGR documentation. All these materials, and also background documents on PAPGREN, were provided also on CD-ROM. There was a generally good reaction to the course by participants. Some suggestions for follow-up were made, and these will be pursued by PAPGREN in the coming months. The course was organized by SPC, was supported financially by NZAID and received technical backstopping from IPGRI.
Thursday, August 26, 2004
Posted 8:10 PM by Luigi
Views of Fiji
Posted 7:42 PM by Luigi
El Nino warning for PNG
Authorities say weather patterns point to repeat of 1997 dry season
By CLEMENT KAUPA
Papua New Guinea could face another 1997 size El Nino weather phenomenon if developing weather conditions over the Pacific basin holds course over the next couple of months.The National Weather Office attributed this to significant alterations to global climatic conditions due to a shift of warm surface water from around PNG to the Eastern Pacific Rim. The National Disaster and Emergency Office (NDES) also confirmed yesterday that they are aware of this development and will closely monitor the situation.
“There is a likelihood that El Nino could occur in the next couple of months and we (NDES) must warn the people of the likely effects,” Brian Mattner, the Operations Advisor with NDES said. The Weather Office’s principle climatologist Samuel Maiha related the abnormal weather conditions experienced in the country recently involving unprecedented heavy rains in certain parts of PNG including Port Moresby (456.2 mm), cold temperatures throughout the nation and devastating winds in the New Guinea Islands to this weather development.
In the 1997 El Nino, the whole of PNG experienced extreme dry conditions which affected the entire pattern of plant and animal, including human lives in the nation for a full year. Currently, some parts of the country are already experiencing severe dry conditions and they may continue to do so over the next three months of September, October and November, he said.
The Western province, through its Fly Provincial Government, had already been issued a warning to conserve water and be prepared for the extreme dry conditions over the next three months.The Weather Office reported on Tuesday that the Fly River level has dropped to a record low 2 meters in certain places due to the dry weather. And according to rainfall statistics provided by Mr Maiha, the province’s capital - Kuinga had already gone below normal- hitting the “driest 30% mark”.
Major business houses in Kiunga and Tabubil are running out of stock for basic goods and services because of the low water level.
“Nothing can grow there now,” Mr Maiha said yesterday, adding that the National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI) had also been advised to warn people to be prepared for the dry spell. Weather Bureaus in other Southern Region provinces have also reported severe dry weather conditions.
Parts of the Highlands are also into dry weather. A senior public servant arriving yesterday from the Chimbu province said the two major rivers in the province, Wara Simbu and Whagi River, “have dried up”.
The Weather Office’s general rainfall forecast for August through to November this year further confirms the likely onset of El Nino.
According to their forecasts, the Western, Central and Milne Bay provinces will register below normal conditions with the Highlands and much of mainland PNG, New Britain, Manus and New Ireland below average.
The Highlands region is also warned of moderate to high frost risk within the coming four months.
Bougainville alone is forecasted to experience normal rainfall and weather conditions due to its proximity to the Eastern Pacific Rim.
For December to January 2005, the office forecasts possible risk of either delayed or suppressed onset of the Monsoon Rains for the south coasts of PNG, which includes Central, Milne Bay, Western and Gulf provinces but projected normal rainfall for the Highlands.
“It is too early yet to predict any continuation of these anticipated dry conditions beyond March 2005 but it may be wise for farming communities in rural areas to switch to alternative crops with a shorter Maturing Period,” Mr Maiha advices.The office will continue to carefully monitor the situation for any further developments. Meantime, Mr Maiha said the rest of the world is experiencing abnormal climatic conditions as well, including heavy rains and flooding in Europe because of the changes here in the Pacific. Mr Maiha said PNG sits in the middle of an area considered as the “engine-room” of global climate and any climatic alterations here affects the whole global weather pattern.
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Posted 6:53 PM by Luigi
Important regional meetings
SPC is hosting in Suva, Fiji Islands, the first Regional Conference of Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry from 9 – 10 Sept. 2004, which will be followed by the first combined regional meeting of the Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services from 13 – 17 Sept. 2004. You can find out more at http://spc.int/AC/artAgricultureForestryMeeting.htm. The issue of Plant Genetic Resources is on the agenda of both meetings, in particular regional reaction to the recent coming into force of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (http://www.fao.org/ag/cgrfa/itpgr.htm).
Posted 4:34 PM by Luigi
An article on kava
Tavana, G., P. Stewart, S. Snyder, D. Ragone, K. Fredrickson, P.A. Cox, and J. Borel. 2003. Lack of evidence of kava-related hepatotoxicity in native populations in Savaii, Samoa. According to a Survey of Traditional Healers and Biomedical Practitioners. Herbalgram 59: 28-32.
Here's how it starts...
Kava — a beverage consisting of a cold-water infusion of the roots, rhizomes, or basal internodes of Piper methysticum Forst., Piperaceae — has long been symbol of respect and hospitality throughout the islands of Polynesia, western Melanesia, and Micronesia. Kava is served ceremonially to welcome village guests, to inaugurate new chiefs, and to bind communities together. Although specific kava rituals differ from place to place, the basic structure of the kava ceremony is surprisingly similar from island to island. Typically, kava ceremonies are accompanied by ornate rhetoric and supplications to God, coupled with expressions of respect to the chiefs and other dignitaries present. Kava is mildly psychoactive, but its tranquilizing effects are both subtle and nuanced; as a result, kava tends to facilitate social interactions in contrast to plant-based hallucinogenic snuffs or mushrooms, which produce such powerful experiences that indigenous peoples believe their souls are transported to another world...
Sunday, August 22, 2004
Posted 4:54 PM by Luigi
The future of the kava industry
A press release from the Itternational Kava Executive Council:
We are sitting on a multi-million dollar industry which is calculated to have earned the Region US200 million dollars in 1998. Potentially, it is a multi-billion dollar industry if it becomes a world commodity. The International Kava Executive Council (IKEC) is working in collaboration with the Forum Secretariat and the Governments of Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and Fiji to make that a reality.
In Europe we are targeting Germany because they were responsible for opening the pharmaceutical markets for all Europe and were responsible for the ban in 2000 after their own health regulatory authority “BfArM” claimed through some weird clinical studies that Kava product had caused liver failures in 76 cases reported across Europe. An indepth “Phytopharm 2003 Kava Report” rejected this claim because of insufficient case reports. This report went further to prove that only one case out of the 76 had used kava products. Furthermore, it is the most conclusive scientific report claiming Kave as an extra-ordinary safe herbal medicine.
The damage caused by the German Health authority on our small economies is immense but fortunately, the German Government through their Minister for Health decided 6 months ago to reverse the situation by reviewing their stand and will announce their decision next month (September). This was made possible through relentless diplomatic pressure by our Ambassadors and High Commissioners based in London and Brussels. We expect a positive response from the Germans, after all there were upto 1.5 million daily kava users in Germany before the ban came into force in 2001. Secondly, most EU States are merely waiting for the Germans to announce their decision because it is the leading authority in the herbal pharmaceutical industry.
The UK-Medicines & Health Care Products Regulatory Authority's announcement to commence review of their position from January 2005, was expected and is a blessing to us and will impact on our strategies for opening up the EU markets and the rest of the world. The US-Federal Drug Agency did not apply the ban, but had placed a lot of restrictions on fair trade which caused untold damages to US companies removing Kava products and exports ceasing altogether. A lot of our struggles in Europe would have been in vain had we not had the support and assistance of the EU Funding Agencies, CDE and Pro-Invest and in the Region, our own Forum Secretariat. With their support, we now have a fully funded International Kava Executive Council (IKEC) with its HQ in Brussels. Membership includes EU States and the Regional States of Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu with the Forum as partner.
IKEC in collaboration with the Forum Secretariat, USP, FSM, SPC and Government of Fiji are sponsoring the International Kava Conference (IKC 2004). There will be over 100 participants including renowned Scientists from Europe and around the world, economists, traders, stakeholders and Government representatives from the Region. IKC 2004 will be held in Suva, Fiji between 30th November and 3rd December, 2004 and special invitations have been extended to the four Prime Ministers of the main Kava-producing countries, i.e. Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu and Tonga whose support is crucial in our drive to lay to rest all issues in respect of the safety and efficacy of Kava as a dynamic herbal medicine and lifting of trade bans and restrictions.
Based on the current WTO ruling on trade liberalisation and EU/ACP protocols on the sugar trade regime, Kava as an agro-based export commodity, we believe could be the alternative to sugar trade to the EU for Fiji and ultimately will be the multi-billion dollar foreign income earner for the Region. We are currently focusing our efforts in Europe, the USA, Canada, our neighbours Australia and New Zealand but are definitely strategically targeting the more lucrative Asian markets of India, China, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand where 60% of their total population still depend on herbal medicine and health food products. The international markets are mainly in the pharmaceutical drug industry and the neutracautical herbal health food industry.
JOSATEKI T NAWALOWALO
Chairman, Fiji Kava Council / Co-Chair of IKEC
Chairman IKC 2004 – Local Organising Committee
Ph: (679) 338 6578; Mob: (679) 926 9745; Fax: (679) 337 1844
19 August 2004
Friday, August 20, 2004
Posted 5:31 PM by Luigi
Two papers on breadfruit
News from Diane Ragone of two recent papers on breadfruit. Here are the details.
Complex origins of breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis, Moraceae): implications for human migrations in Oceania.
Nyree J. C. Zerega, Diane Ragone and Timothy J. Motley
American Journal of Botany. 2004. 91: 760-766.
ABSTRACT: Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis, Moraceae), a traditional starch crop in Oceania, has enjoyed legendary status ever since its rolein the infamous mutiny aboard the H.M.S. Bounty in 1789, yet its origins remain unclear. Breadfruit's closest relatives are A. camansi and A. mariannensis. DNA fingerprinting data (AFLP, amplified fragment length polymorphisms) from over 200 breadfruit cultivars, 30 A. camansi, and 24 A. mariannensis individuals were used to investigate the relationships among these species. Multivariate analyses and the identification of species-specific AFLP markers indicate at least two origins of readfruit. Most Melanesian and Polynesian cultivars appear to have arisen over generations of vegetative propagation and selection from A. camansi. In contrast, most Micronesian breadfruit cultivars appear to be the result of hybridization between A. camansi-derived breadfruit and A. mariannensis. Because breadfruit depends on humans for dispersal, the data were compared to theories on the human colonization of Oceania. The results agree with the well-supported theory that humans settled Polynesia via Melanesia. Additionally, a long-distance migration from eastern Melanesia into Micronesia is supported.
Nomenclature of breadfruit cultivars in Samoa: Saliency, ambiguity and mononomiality
Diane Ragone, Gaugau Tavana, Joan M. Stevens, Patricia Ann Stewart, Rebekka Stone, Paul Matthew Cox and Paul Alan Cox
Journal of Ethnobiology. 2004. 24(1): 33-49.
ABSTRACT: Breadfruit is an important subsistence crop in the Samoan archipelago where numerous cultivars are grown and used. The diversity of breadfruit in Samoa is indicative of its antiquity and value to this society. The purpose of our study was to document and compare knowledge of breadfruit names by Samoans of a wide range of ages in both rural villages and towns and to test the relationship between saliency and binomiality. A total of 354 people were interviewed and 46 cultivar names were recorded. A binomial is used to name a breadfruit - the generic term 'ulu is given first and a second word is added to describe that particular cultivar - when the second word used alone could refer to something other than breadfruit. A monomial is used only when this term does not refer to anything else or has no other meaning. There was no significant relationship between saliency and binomiality of breadfruit names and a significant relationship between binomiality and linguistic ambiguity. A useful outcome of this study was defining 60 Samoans as "experts" using statistical measures that we will use in continuing ethnobotanical studies in Oceania and may have broader application.
Thursday, August 19, 2004
Posted 5:38 PM by Luigi
Cultivar Recognition in Micronesia: Banana, Breadfruit, Giant Swamp Taro and Pandanus
This is the title of a new paper by Lois Englberger, Maureen H. Fitzgerald, and Geoffrey C. Marks, just accepted by PGR Newsletter. Should be out before the end of the year. Here's the abstract:
There are many cultivars of the locally-grown staple foods, banana, breadfruit, giant swamp taro, and pandanus, in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), some varying greatly in nutrient content. The objective of this investigation was to document present cultivar recognition, in order to provide information for developing a food-based intervention for dietary improvement and alleviation of vitamin A deficiency. An ethnographic approach using key informant interviews in Kosrae and Pohnpei, two FSM states, explored recognition of the above-listed foods. Data are presented from three groups of informants: community informants, college students, and child caretakers (mostly women). Despite the trend in FSM towards consumption of imported foods, the findings indicated that there is still a considerable knowledge of the food cultivars investigated. Cultivar recognition varied by food and participant’s age, gender, and island. Cultivar recognition was greatest for banana, students naming eight cultivars on average. Caretakers easily named the banana and pandanus cultivars that they had eaten. In FSM, understanding cultivar recognition and cultivar differences (including cultivar-specific data on food composition) is important for assessing food-based interventions promoting vitamin A-rich cultivars and dietary assessment. Such understanding also represents cultivar biodiversity, food security, and cultural integrity. Cultivar recognition and cultivar differences are also likely to be important in other Pacific countries and elsewhere where these foods are eaten.
Agrobiodiversity Weblog: For discussions of conservation and sustainable use of the genetic resources of crops, livestock and their wild relatives.