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?



    Sunday, October 17, 2004

    Biodiversity and food security in Fiji

    A great article by Dr Randy Thaman of USP from the Fiji Times of 7 October 2004 is reproduced below.

    THE purpose of this article is to argue that food security and good health for all of Fiji's people should be our number one development priority, in order to achieve food security we must protect and use sustainability our very rich biodiversity inheritance.

    In Fiji, our food security depends on three sources:

    1. The wild harvest
    2. Agricultural production
    3. Trade

    Fiji originally depended almost exclusively on the first two: wild food and water from our forest, non-forest land, rivers and our seas; and plant and animal products from our agricultural systems.

    The provision of these fresh nutritious foods depended on our land (vanua) and our fishing grounds (iqoliqoli).

    Our people eat many wild foods including wild yams (tikau, rauva and tivoli), ferns (ota), guava, tropical almonds (tavola, badam), freshwater and marine finfish (ika, duna and bonu), shellfish (vivili), crusateans (qari, ura, urau, vaba and mana), octopus and squid (kuita, kuita nu) and seaweeds (nama, lumi).

    We eat root crop including true taro (dalo), giant taro (via mila), giant swamp taro (via kau), yams (uvi and kawai), sweet potato (kumala), cassava (tavioka) and taniia or cocoyam (dalo ni tana).

    We eat important tree crop, such as coconut, bananas and plantains (jaina, liga ni marama, vudi and bata), breadfruit, jackfruit, Tahitian chestnut (ivi), citrus fruit, cutnut (vutu), pawpaw, Malay apple (kavika, amra), vi-apple, (wi), mango, avocado and tamarind.

    We eat a wide range of other nutritious locally grown foods, such as taro leaf spinach, hibiscus spinach (bele), sugarcane, Fiji asparagus (duruka), corn, Chinese and English cabbage, many beans and pulses, Indian spinach (tubua/ chauraiya), lettuce, okra, eggplant, pumpkin, watermelon, cucumber and a number of other gourds, pineapple and passionfruit.

    We also have spice and tea plants such as chilies, coriander, ginger, tumeric, curry leaf, mint and lemon-leaf tea (coboi, Fiji cha and drau ni moli).

    We also have fresh wild and locally raised chickens, ducks, pigs, goats and cows to supply fresh lean meats, eggs and dairy products.

    For many of these local plants and animals, there are many different varieties or breeds.

    In Ucunivanua and Muaivuso villages in Eastern Viti Levu, for example, the people eat over 200 different types of finfish and over 70 different types of shellfish, cabs, lobsters, octopuses, seahares, jellyfishes, sea anemones, shell fishes and other marine invertebrates and plants.

    Over half of these are sold at the local market to provide cash incomes and satisfy the food security of Fijis growing urban population.

    This genetic diversity is also part of our biodiversity heritage. For example, in Fiji there are at least 100 named varieties of taro, 50 yam varieties, 19 sweet potato varieties, eight cassava varieties, 20 coconut varieties, 12 breadfruit varieties, 20 sugarcane varieties, seven rice varieties, 16 bora bean varieties, five chicken breeds, seven cattle breeds and five traditional breed of pig.

    This genetic diversity is an insurance to our food system in terms of protecting our food plants and animals against diseases and natural disasters, such as hurricanes and drought because the different varieties and breeds have different abilities to withstand pests and diseases and natural disasters.

    Finally, the last part of Fijis biodiversity inheritance is the great knowledge that our diverse cultures have about their traditional food systems.

    It includes the knowledge on how to collect, hunt, fish, farm and care for wild and domestic plants and animals.

    It includes beliefs, knowledge of seasons and seasonal migrations, recipes, ways of preserving and preparing good, how to breastfeed and nurture babies.

    It includes the language and names associated with the ecosystems, these plants, animals, our food and drinks and how they affect our health.

    This nutritional biodiversity and diversity (our ecosystems, plant and animal varieties and our knowledge about them) is the foundation of our food system and our health.

    For most people these are still the most nutritious foods in terms of providing high quality nutrients essential for good health.

    Today, however, the people of Fiji are increasingly dependent on trade and imported foods.

    Unfortunately, given the purchasing power and low level of nutritional awareness of most of our people, most of the imported food they eat consists of nutritionally inferior foods that are high in animal fat, sugar, salt and are low in high quality protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre and water needed for good health.

    As a result, Fijis people now have some of the highest and increasing levels of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, obesity, dental disease and a number of cancers.

    Why? Because most of these non-communicable diseases are related to the increasing consumption of highly processed foods and the abandonment of fresh local foods.

    Protection of our time-tested Fiji food system and the biodiversity that support it is easier than trying to recreate a biodiverse food system that has been destroyed by shortsighted commercial interests that advertise the very food that have given our urban people the highest rates in the world of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, gout, dental disease and some forms of cancer.

    Sadly, many of these ecosystems and the plants and animals are now endangered. Many of our mangrove forests and coral reefs, where we get so many of our seafood, are dying or being destroyed.

    Many of the fish and seafood that were common in the past, such as eels, sea turtles, mullets, bumphead parrot fishes, scad mackerel, shellfishes and crustaceans such as the venus clam, spider conches and giant clams are now rare or disappearing.

    Squid, coconut crabs, sea crabs, slipper lobsters, and some forms of seaweeds are now hard to find or have disappeared.

    Many of our coastal and inland forests, traditional varieties of taro, yams, sugarcane, rice, breadfruit, coconuts and bananas and wild yams, fruit and medicinal trees our traditional breed of chickens, pigs and goats are disappearing and our agricultural lands are being eroded.

    Of at least equal concern is that the current generation knows few of the names of our fishes, shellfishes, crabs, wild plants and varieties of cultivated plants.

    They do not know how to hunt, fish, farm or preserve, prepare or eat many of our traditional nutritious foods.

    Young farmers, who do not know the names or importance of our fruit trees and medicinal plants no longer protect them or plant them and kill when they clear new agricultural lands.

    This could be considered a loss or an extinction of the nutritional biodiversity of the minds of our people.

    In short, we are losing our nutritional biodiversity.

    Our biodiversity (Fijis ecosystems, the wild and domesticated food plants and animals contained in them, and our peoples knowledge of them) is the real foundation for food security.

    This is not to say that trade and imported foods are not important as the third leg of the tripod of food security.

    It is only to say that local production, which depends almost entirely on Fijis biodiversity and the knowledge that our people have of it must be protected as the real foundation for food security in Fiji.

    If we fail to protect our biodiversity, as has happened in some areas of Africa and Asia, our people will suffer the same famines and extreme nutritional poverty that graces our television screens daily. It is our choice.

    The sustainable use and protection of our vanua and iqoliqoli is the foundation for food security for all of our people.

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