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?
Monday, January 31, 2005
Posted 8:01 PM by Luigi
Cassava processing in Nigeria
Not really about the Pacific, but I thought this might be of interest to some in our region. Posted to the web January 31, 2005 by Mr Godwin Uba of Global Trust Consulting Group 56, Ishaga Road (1st floor) Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria.
Setting up an integrated cassava processing project
There are great investment opportunities in setting up cassava processing plant. Internally, the market for processed cassava into chips & pellets, flour, ethanol and industrial starch expands everyday.
Internationally, the export market of processed cassava products particularly chips/pellets & industrial starch (dry) become more acceptable, creating more opportunities for Nigerians to go into cassava processing for export business.
Favourable economic policies
Recently, the federal government under president Olusegun Obasanjo has made it compulsory that wheat flour produced and sold within Nigeria must posses 10% cassava flour.
This new law has created a better opportunities for Nigerians to now think how to create more processing plants out of this policy.
Research has earlier shown that wheat flour containing 10% cassava flour still produces good quality bread and confectioneries.
Based on this new law also it is the general expectation that the industrial demand for cassava products will increase locally.
Nigerians should embrace this new policy because this is what is obtained in most parts the third world countries where the law of comparative advantages are more recognised and adopted.
For instance, in Malaysia, cassava flour has 100% application and yet the country produces good quality bakery products.
The same thing applies in Brazil and Madagascar.
In these countries, cassava are processed into industrial flour without adding any wheat, yet quality products are obtained.
Nigeria is a country blessed with abundant agricultural resources. Cassava is every where environment within Nigeria. Therefore this natural endowment should be fully exploited.
Export market exploitation
Apart from producing cassava flour for local market, prospective investors can consider going into production of cassava chips & pellets and industrial starch (dry) for export market.
Nigeria has all it takes to produce quality exportable chips & pellets and industrial starch (dry). At the moment the international prices of industrial starch and chips & pellets are relatively high.
The good thing president Obasanjo's administration has done to Nigeria is that the country's agricultural products have been well accepted internationally.
Many overseas countries in Europe, America and Asia want to do business with Nigerians in the area of cassava chips/pellets, industrial starch (dry) and other agricultural products.
For detailed information on the countries that purchase industrial starch, cassava chips & pellets in bulk, and some of other agro-industrial processed products, please contact the writer.
Integrating feed mill into the project
There are so many poultry farmers and other animal husbandry in Nigeria. The number is growing everyday with the ban on importation of frozen chicken & turkey.
The ban has created more investment opportunities to Nigerians in the area of raising chickens, turkey and other animals in commercial quantities.
The increase in farmers of this category has also made the business of feed mill a very lucrative one. The price of feed mill in recent time has been very competitive in the market.
Therefore anybody that wants to exploit the opportunity of investing into lucrative cassava processing project must also think of how to reduce or eliminate the envisaged accumulated wastes.
The environmental friendliness of any project is very important and must be considered when setting up any project in the country and any part of the world.
When a feed mill is integrated into the proposed cassava-processing project, the issue of waste elimination is taken care of.
Moreover, the investor stands a better chance of selling the produced animal feeds to teeming buyers of poultry and animal feeds at large.
Income is made from this project as well through the sale of produced feeds. The investor also can easily integrate poultry farming into the entire project, because the major inputs in poultry farming army have been taken care of.
It is quite indisputable that the highest cost element as well as the greated inputs in animal husbandry is the animal feeds.
Plants & machinery for these projects
The machines and equipment for the setting up of this project can be sourced from both local and international producers.
There are few hands in Nigeria who can produce some of the required processing machines and equipments.
To ensure that quality machines are procured there are foreign machine producers that will be recommended to prospective investors.
Marketing of envisaged product
There is good market for the products within the local and foreign markets. The buyers ranges from Europe, America and Africa.
The cost of this project depends on the scale and the type of products that prospective investors will like to go into.
For the four major products chips/pellets, Industrial starch, ethanol and flour the projected cost shown below.
The payback period is within two years for each of the products. The payback period may even come down if the products are to be exported.
The return on investment is over 60% and will increase as production and marketing increases.
The cost-benefit ratio is very high.
The implementation will commence with detailed, comprehensive and bankable feasibility studies to be presented to prospective investors by the writer.
This will be followed by planning of the proposed project site; followed by procurement and installation of production machinery and equipment.
The next step will be organising the marketing and administrative structure.
Funding the project
The Federal Government of Nigeria, under the president Olusegun Obasanjo, is encouraging this project.
The Government has encouraged financial institutions in the country to ensure that prospective investors can benefit from the funds channelled to the Industrial and Agricultural Development Banks and Institutions.
Banks too can now fund this project through the SME funding scheme whereby 10% off the gross profits are channelled to funding of agro & allied industrial projects.
Posted 7:38 PM by Luigi
There are several interesting articles on the history of the Pacific in the new issue of Common-Place magazine.
Posted 2:49 PM by Luigi
COGENT project in Fiji: Women's group makes farming progress
From yesterdays' Fiji Times: http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=15713
With the New Year already rolling, activities are starting but for some it is the usual business that they are doing that takes up most of their time. For people living on the island of Cicia in Lau, life has a whole new meaning as they are about to embark on a journey that they will pass on to their children for years to come.
Lomati Village is one of the five villages on the island and is home to about 55 families that depend on farming and fishing for a living. Members of the village work together to develop their families, school and church in what they believe are the strong foundation of a better future. But one group has really made a difference in the village and they are none other than the mothers of the village.
The Lomati Womens Group was formed in the 1980's and is still running today due to the togetherness and sacrifices that the 56 members have done. Group leader Mrs Losana Temo has been organising the group for a good number of years and for her, being part of the group has taught her a lot on making a decent living.
Losana's group had been involved in activities like weaving, knitting and farming when they first began. "It was a difficult start for us but now we are doing okay since we began our pig farming business," she said.
Lomati Women's Group was assisted under the Ministry of Agriculture in 2003 where they were given materials to build their pig shed and was also given two female pigs (sows). "It was very generous of the ministry to give us the much needed boost to our proposed pig farm and we are happy to be continuing with the business." The women were assisted under the Coconut Based Income Generating Technologies (COGENT) project, which is part of the Ministry's program.
Senior Agriculture Officer (Lau), Mere Salusalu said that COGENT Project in Cicia was established in 2003 and aimed at reducing poverty in coconut growing communities. "This is an opportunity for the islanders to make a better living for themselves and their families and the good thing about the island of Cicia, is that each village has an organisation that has been running their own business," she explained.
"After we began selling our pigs to government officials on the island and even to relatives in Suva, the other groups in the village began to show interest in our project and have been assisting us in feeding the pigs and even cleaning the shed," she smiled.
Members of the group have been taking turns in cleaning and feeding the pigs and to date the group has five pigs that will be ready for sale in a few months time.
"We have sold two of our pigs already and each was sold for $250."
"It has not been easy but we trust our hearts that this business will grow throughout the years to come," Losana said.
The group is also looking forward to working with other groups on the island on the new decorticating machine that was installed on the island last year. The machine, which was also given under the COGENT project assists in the shreddng of the coconut husks into fine fibres that can be woven into door-mats.
During the one-week training by Agriculture officials, the five women's group from each village learnt the techniques of shredding the husks, plaiting it into ropes and making doormats from them. Senior Agriculture Officer (Lau) Mere Salusalu said that it was amazing to see the enthusiasm shown by the women on the island and is positive that many more good things will be able to develop on the island.
"The machine was installed the same week that the training was conducted and I am happy to see the developments that have taken place so far," she said.
Losana and her group believe that their pig project could really go hand in hand with the installation of the machine.
"The women are really happy that they now have a chance to show off their weaving skills and set the designs on the doormats that they will make from the coconut fibres," she said.
Life on the island has a total new meaning especially to the women as they all look forward to providing coconut husks for the machine and making ropes from them.
"After our training, we all agreed that each village was going to use the machine per month and we would keep rotating that way."
The women have been continuing with their program and have been meeting once a month to exchange ideas on the way forward for their group.
"It has been a great time for us women because it is a chance for us to share our views and just lighten the burden on our shoulders and we are grateful for the support given to us by our families," she said.
After several visits by agriculture officials, the women are determined that they will expand in the near future.
"We want to go into vegetable farming as well but we will see as we are also counting on the expert advice of our agricultural officer here in Cicia."
Losana hopes that more women will be able to see the advantages of farming.
"Some may take it as a dirty chore but we should look beyond all that and it will surely be a challenge for all the women out there," she advised.
The women from Lomati Village in Cicia, Lau are still continuing with their pig farming project and hope that it will be an eye-opener for those women that are thinking of doing the same.
Losana Temo (middle) sits with other participants and Agriculture officials on Tarukua Village in Cicia Island with their completed door mats made from coconut fibres that they produced with the Decorticating machine.
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Posted 6:24 PM by Luigi
Vanuatu root crop production up
By The Independent
Posted Sunday, January 30, 2005
Over the past four years since the launching of "yia blong aelan kakae" in 2001 the chamber of commerce has reported significant growth in root crop production.
In 2002 the quantity of root crops recorded from small scale commercial farming and export of agricultural products totalled 148 tons, which equalled VT19 million. In 2004 the tonnage tripled to 411 tons, to the value of VT82 million.
This indicated a very positive results with existing prospects in years ahead for further growth and expansion in selected food crops such as casava, dry land taro, taro Fiji and yams.
The encouraging sign was the new stream of income with direct benefits now reaching farmers through the sale of their produce.
Behind the root crop production increase is a lot of time and effort spent on various program activities jointly undertaken by the chamber of commerce and the department of agriculture over the years. This involved farmers' field day training programs conducted monthly, the publication of relevant technical handbooks, radio and TV programs, production promotions through the agriculture and trade show, liaison with processors and exporters and overseas importers, provinces and farmers.
Three of the biggest contributors to this increase in production of root crops and agricultural products are Jubilee Farm and export company Lacalex Ltd, both in Santo, and Vanuatu Fresh in Port Vila, a processor and exporter.
According to estimates the yield for 2005 could double that of 2004 after the Business Forum set specific targets of 3000 tons for taro, 1000 tons for casava and 1000 tons for yams. The national program activities now being designed aim to achieve these targets by 2007, hopefully generating an estimated return of more than VT1 billion in foreign exchange earnings.
Priority also took into consideration production to meet local demand for root crops and depended largely on educating farmers to think on both levels.
Posted 3:50 PM by Luigi
Keeping pandanus alive in Marshalls
From the Marshall Islands Journal Online.
The Women’s Athletic Club is on a pandanus preservation mission to promote and expand the growth and availability of pandanus on Majuro. Researcher Dr. Lois Englberger, who is being supported by the Centers for Disease Control and UNICEF, is helping the club achieve its goals. To date, the energetic ladies have successfully carried out phase one of the project with the 500 grant money they received to purchase pandanus cuttings for planting.
The group recently planted various type of pandanus at Laura, Arrak, Ajeltake, Rairok, Uliga, Delap Elementary School, Anel, and Rita. The species included Loarmwe (24 plants), Luwaju (8), Tobotin (7), Komalij (11), Mwedrikdrik (5), and Edwan en an nelu (5).
Posted 3:40 PM by Luigi
Strategies for the augmentation of food activities in Pohnpei
More from Lois Englberger: I would like to share with you of the report by Dr Richard Beyer, food technologist, entitled "Strategies for the augmentation of food activities in Pohnpei." This covers his work here in Pohnpei in November 2004 and the different workshops that he facilitated. Below is the Executive Summary. The report indicates that there is great untapped potential in small-scale food processing of Pohnpei food crops.
Cultivation, consumption and processing of locally grown fruits, nuts, starchy staples and vegetables in Pohnpei fall well below potential which has resulted in excessive dependence on imported processed foods. The Island Food Community of Pohnpei has been in the vanguard of increasing public awareness of the nutritional benefits of local produce particularly varieties of bananas and other staples high in micronutrients. These programmes and the synergy from Pohnpei Agriculture through the model farm and the extension services have made significant inroads into the inertia in the horticulture sector.
As part of a multilateral approach to augmenting food-related activity, the Island Food Community has sponsored a programme of food processing specifically directed toward village level entrepreneurs. A series of workshops has been conducted in Pohnpei the subjects of which were the preservation of local foods to generate income and to improve food choice. Participants have produced approximately 20 preserved products and the formulations have been rationalised and reported here.
However, this is a project that should not be left in isolation. The recommendations of the participants inter alia have included a request for further, on-going support. Presupposing that these workshops stimulate continuing activity among participants, a model for a general purpose food processing centre has been suggested because it is a concept that has been adopted in Vanuatu and is being implemented in Kiribati. Using such a facility, food producers can lease time in a well-equipped facility and they can receive advanced instruction in food processing, hygiene and product development. The facility does not preclude village-based processing since access is available to all practitioners. A major advantage is that partial processing can be devolved to rural areas but with modern techniques and facilities brings Pohnpei’s food products within the realm of export market – a long term goal but coveted because new money is added to the economy.
Such a facility is a major undertaking and an assessment of the feasibility of such a facility falls outside the ToRs of this current intervention. However this feasibility study was recommended by workshop participants and may add further sustainability to the first steps in food processing that were taken and reported here.
It is the immediate aim that the consumption of local foods – particularly those high in micronutrients – is encouraged through education and promotional campaigns including major undertakings such as the World Food Day Exposé. The series of workshops and public awareness campaigns which formed the major thrust of this mission are part of that effort by offering alternatives to imported equivalent products. In addition an integrated farm, processing and marketing operation will be the fountainhead of increased employment particularly among rural and disadvantaged groups.
Posted 3:02 PM by Luigi
The Obesity Epidemic in the Pacific Islands
From Lois Englberger: I would like to share with you a paper by Michael Curtis, who was working here in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia a few years ago. He prepared this paper as part of his further studies. The reference for his paper is: Curtis M (2004) The obesity epidemic in the Pacific Islands. Journal of Development and Social Transformation 1(1)37-42.
Some of the highest levels of obesity in the world are found in the island populations of Oceania. Rates of obesity as high as 75% have been reported in Nauru, Samoa, American Samoa, the Cook Islands, Tonga and French Polynesia. The factors for this epidemic of obesity are a dramatic decrease in physical activity and a dependence on a Western diet. The traditional foods of the islands such as fresh fish, meat and local fruits and vegetables have been replaced by rice, sugar, .our, canned meats, canned fruits and vegetables, soft drinks and beer. The total population of the 21 island nations, territories and commonwealths in the Oceania area is just under 2 million. In a world of 6.3 billion, it is difficult for countries as small as Nauru (pop. 10,000) to compete for health care aid. Such invisibility is just one of the significant barriers that these tiny nations face as they struggle to survive in the new millennium. Progress in the health care sector is hindered by general under funding, concentration in urban areas and on end-stage diseases, and by a dearth of adequately trained personnel, especially in health services planning, management and administration. Policies are necessary to encourage a movement away from Western foods to a traditional diet low in fat and calories.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Posted 7:10 PM by Luigi
Kiribati Pandanus poster
Dr Lois Englberger in Pohnpei has announced that the poster on pandanus in Kiribati reproduced below (see also here for a better quality image) is now available. In both English and I-Kiribati, it describes the important nutritional properties of this fruit, in particular the levels of provitamin A carotenoid beta-carotene. This is the message: Grow and eat deep-colored pandanus to help protect against vitamin A deficiency night blindness, diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers!
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) supported the development and printing of the poster. Dr Lois Englberger collected the photographs, samples and other data in a project carried out in Tarawa in 2003 and 2004 with officers of the Kiribati Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Ministry of Environment, Lands, and Agricultural Development, AMAK (Kiribati Women's Association) and the Kiribati National Nutrition Committee. Some of the officers involved in this project include: Tianeti Ioanne, Tokamai Tokintekai, Mamarau Kairiete, Tinai Iuta, Teebure Tiroia and Betarim Rimon. The other sponsors of this project were the Secretariat of the Pacific (SPC) Community Forestry Program, SPRIG, PAPGREN, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, United Nations Children's Fund and Sight and Life.
The carotenoid analysis was carried out by the laboratories of the Institute of Applied Sciences/University of the South Pacific, Fiji and DSM Nutritional Products, Switzerland. This is the first time that these varieties were analyzed for nutrient content.
The poster is being distributed to all ministries and departments, primary and secondary schools, supermarkets, island councils and churches. It is hoped that this poster campaign may lead to more discussion and understanding of Kiribati pandanus fruit and to greater production and consumption.
Posted 2:27 PM by Luigi
A Biodiversity Conservation Plan for Papua New Guinea Based on Biodiversity Trade-offs Analysis
A rapid biodiversity assessment ("BioRap") project identified candidate areas for biodiversity protection in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and provides an ongoing evaluation framework for balancing biodiversity conservation and other land use needs. Achieving a biodiversity protection target with minimum opportunity cost was an important outcome given that biodiversity values overlap with forestry production values, and high forgone forestry opportunities would mean significant losses to land owners and the government. Allocation of 16.8% of PNG's land area to some form of biodiversity protection was required, in order to achieve the level of biodiversity representation/persistence that would have been possible using only 10% of the land area if there were no constraints on land allocation and no land use history. This result minimizes potential conflict with forestry production opportunities while also taking account of land use history, human population density and previous conservation assessments. The analysis provides more than a single set of proposed priority areas. It is a framework for progressively moving towards a country-wide conservation goal, while at the same time providing opportunities to alter the priority area set in light of new knowledge, changes in land use, and/or changes in economic and social conditions.
Map showing a proposed set of priority conservation areas for Papua New Guinea, with priority areas assigned colours to indicate ratings for timber volume (yellow is highest volume category, followed by orange, then purple). Green areas are remaining priority areas.
Posted 2:19 PM by Luigi
Launch of Development Gateway for the Asia-Pacific region
The Australian Government has recently launched its own development gateway (www.developmentgateway.com.au/) to provide users with instant access to Australian experience in development issues relevant to the Asia-Pacific region. The Australian portal currently focuses on agriculture, education, governance, health, information technology, and water, and it has been designed to encourage development professionals to exchange information through a variety of interactive features, including directories and discussion forums. The Australian Development Gateway is part of a network of over fifty country gateways established under the umbrella of the global Development Gateway Foundation. It is the first gateway to be built by an OECD country and it is a key project of the Virtual Colombo Plan, a joint initiative between the Australian Government and the World Bank to encourage distance learning and bridge the digital divide.
More information here.
Posted 12:42 PM by Luigi
Vanuatu group signs agreement to protect environment
By Eslyn Kaltongga - Vanuatu Daily Post
January 25, 2005
A Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) was signed last Friday between the Wantok Environment Centre (WTEC) and Sanma Provincial Council (SPC). WTEC is a non-government environmental organization incorporated in Vanuatu as a charity.
Its mission is to care and protect Vanuatu’s natural environment, recognizing its importance for all forms of life, for present and future generations and in the sustainable development of the country.
And its main focal area would be delivering technical support and other services needed by rural communities, families and individuals directly involved in the conservations/protection of Vanuatu’s wildlife and ecosystems and the sustainable management of natural and physical resources.
The Sanma Province and WTEC, under the agreement, recognize that “there is increasing devolution and responsibilities of provincial councils within Vanuatu in relation to social economic and environmental issues at the community level.”
The main objective of the MOU is to provide a framework for cooperation and collaboration between the parties in the area of sustainable development and biodiversity conservation in Vanuatu.
The duration of the MOU will be 3 years after which the agreement would be reviewed. Minister for Youth and Sports, Mr Arnold Prasad was present on behalf of the Minister for Lands to witness the signing.
Monday, January 24, 2005
Posted 2:03 PM by Luigi
More on coconut oil as biofuel
From Vanuatu Daily Post, 22 Jan. 2005
The Vanuatu Minister of Lands, Geology, Mines, Energy, and Water Resources, Paul Telukluk, has announced that all vehicles under the Ministry will switch to coconut bio-fuel. Minister Telukluk made the announcement during a recent visit to Vanuatu’s coconut fuel producing company Vanuatu Sea Transit (VAST). All vehicles under the Ministry are expected to begin using the fuel next month. The first government department that decided to use bio-fuel was the Vanuatu Meteorology Department. “The reason of my visit to VAST was not only as a Government Minister but also as Minister responsible for Energy to show my support to the bio-fuel project,” Telukluk said. “My support does not stop here. Since bio-fuel is a source of energy I think it is good for the Ministry to put its support into action.” He said by using bio-fuel it will enforce the recommendations of the Business Forum Matrix.
And in New Caledonia:
From Thierry Mennesson, Directeur Général de l'IAC, Paita, Nouvelle Calédonie
In New Caledonia, and specially in Ouvea, one of the Loyalty Islands, CIRAD has done an important job on coconut oil as biouel. Some cars are running with coconut oil, electricity is produced with generators using coconut oil, even the unit of desalinisation of sea water. Coconut oil is not for use only a substitute for best prices, it helps producers to find real social integration and saves on of infrastructure costs because fuel does not need to be transported to islands: it is already there!
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Posted 4:57 PM by Luigi
FAO to hold special conference on Small Island Developing States
Meeting to follow-up on Mauritius recommendations
From the FAO Newsroom http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/
17 January 2005, Rome
As a follow-up to the international meeting on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) that ended in Mauritius last Friday, FAO announced today that it will convene a special conference in Rome during its governing Conference 19-26 November 2005 to review the Mauritius Strategy to further Implement the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS.
The FAO small islands conference will tackle a number of urgent issues highlighted in the strategic document agreed at last week's international meeting in Mauritius, which urged "the 2005 FAO Conference of SIDS ministers of agriculture to consider endorsing priority actions for an enhanced contribution of agriculture, forestry and fisheries to SIDS sustainable development policies, in light of the importance of nutrition and food security needs of SIDS."
The Mauritius Strategy document recommends management that addresses the impact of climate change on food production and the implementation of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the FAO High Seas Fishing Compliance Agreement. It also says that sustainable management of ocean resources should promote "mapping of their exclusive economic zones, monitoring and surveillance of fishing efforts, including appropriate enforcement measures to minimize illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and over-harvesting."
The strategy further calls for the creation of "synergistic linkages between tourism and the agricultural sector by promoting island foods and beverage supply chains, rural hospitality and agro-tourism." Additionally, the strategy document called on the international community to address issues of special concern to SIDS countries such as trade and food security and improving sanitary and phytosanitary infrastructure in these countries.
Small islands, with the support of the international community, are called on to "promote agricultural competitiveness through long-term development of efficient agricultural systems, diversification and value-added activities; and to ensure food security." Human and institutional capacity should be developed on "trade facilitation and niche marketing, agriculture, forestry and fisheries and natural resources product development."
Increased efficiency and diversification
Nadia Scialabba, FAO's senior officer and focal point for SIDS, said that "the November SIDS meeting will revolve around increasing the efficiency and the diversification of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, with a particular focus on impacts related to trade and national food security; nutrition and household food security; and environmental resilience."
During the Mauritius conference, FAO highlighted specific SIDS needs within the global trading environment, particularly the serious trade threats to their major agricultural commodities, sugar and bananas.
FAO's Deep Ford, senior economist, Commodities and Trade Division, said: "There are two major issues currently facing SIDS countries. A reform proposal that could reduce the sugar price to African, Caribbean and Pacific exporting countries by as much as 37 percent and the move to a tariff only regime for bananas, which could potentially erode the market for Caribbean banana producers." In this context, he indicated that FAO has increased its efforts to help small island countries build up their trade negotiation capacities.
The FAO delegation to the SIDS international conference in Mauritius was headed by its Director-General, Dr. Jacques Diouf.
Contact: John Riddle Media Relations Officer, FAO firstname.lastname@example.org (+39) 06 570 53259
Posted 12:49 PM by Luigi
Prosperous PNG Through Agricultural Development
Text of a recent newspaper article from PNG.
The National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) will start the new year with a sharpened vision. In a recent meeting on 17th December 2004 the NARI Council approved NARI’s revised vision and mission statement for Papua New Guinea’s development. The reworded vision is “Prosperous PNG Agricultural Communities”.
This is a broad and long-term vision of what the Institute expects to happen. Explaining the vision, NARI Director General Dr Raghunath Ghodake said: “The word ‘prosperous’ implies economic, social, cultural well-being of all residents of PNG. Such prosperity should be reflected through a much improved and higher level of human development index (HDI) in PNG.”
Reference to “agricultural communities”, he said in its wider sense, implies that the prosperity of all in PNG will be realised through wealth creation and sustainable broad based growth through agricultural development.
“As more than 85 percent of today’s 5.4 million people in PNG depend directly or indirectly on agriculture, the prosperity of agricultural communities will be paramount in realising the prosperity of all in PNG. If these communities are prosperous, all in PNG and nation as whole will be prosperous.”
The above rationale is based on the Institute’s assertion that agriculture is the most important sector in the Papua New Guinea economy. This is not only because of the vast majority’s dependence on agriculture but also because of the sector’s tremendous untapped potential.
Dr Ghodake said: “This potential is not only to assure food security, improve cash incomes and provide comfortable livelihoods but also to bring total prosperity and full development to the country.
He said it follows then that the agriculture sector must be targeted for development if the nation is to prosper and become one of the developed nations of the world.
While the agriculture sector is important, agricultural research and improved technologies and knowledge are seen to be the most critical catalytic agents in promoting agricultural development, broad-based economic growth and sustainable rural development.
In view of this the NARI Council agreed that NARI’s reworded mission statement would be to “Promote innovative agricultural development in Papua New Guinea through scientific research, knowledge creation and information exchange."
Dr Ghodake said the word “promote” is used to indicate positive and pro-active action in the application and adoption of exiting and new “knowledge” for agricultural development.
“Such development is realised through new and innovative ideas, processes, approaches and technologies. Such technologies and knowledge arise from the information collected, generated and assessed through scientific research, adaptation of existing knowledge and communication amongst all actors in the agriculture sector.”
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Posted 12:47 PM by Luigi
PINA gets official approval to export Noni to EU
Press Release: Centre for Development of Enterprise (CDE)
For the first time since the passing of EU Novel Food Directive in 1996 the members of a small trade association in the developing world, the Pacific Island Noni Association (www.pina.ws), has received Official approval to export Noni (Morinda Citrifolia) juice to the UK and other EU members states subject to the terms and conditions set out in the approval notice.
This historic decision has been made possible due to the support of the ACP-EU Centre for Development of Enterprise (CDE) (www.cde.int) to PINA members and their consultant, CAMedica in the UK. CAMedica were retained by CDE to help prepare the Novel Food application, undertake laboratory tests and finalise negotiations with UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) on behalf of PINA members.
Approval has been granted on the basis that PINA Noni Juice has been shown to be substantially equivalent to that of U.S multinational Morinda Inc who were the first company to receive approval to sell Noni juice within the European Union. These conditions are probably the most comprehensive so far announced by any EU food safety authority. They will probably set the standards for any other company or organisations wishing to sell Noni juice in EU member states. CDE is presently considering a technical assistance programme to ensure that all its 26 PINA members, listed in the approval notice, meet the exacting health, safety and quality standards required by the FSA approval.
For more detailed technical information please contact CDE's consultants Anthony Bush (email@example.com) or Denzil Phillips (firstname.lastname@example.org).
CDE contacts: Henriette Acquah Dodet (Sectoral Expert: email@example.com) and Peter Alling (Pacific Region Expert: firstname.lastname@example.org).
CDE is an institution of the ACP Group of States (Africa, Carribean and Pacific) and the European Union in the framework of the Cotonou Agreement.
Av. Herrmann-Debroux 52
Phone (32 2) 679 18 11
Fax (32 2)675 26 03 or (32 2) 679 18 31
Web site: www.cde.int
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Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Posted 6:10 PM by Luigi
Pacific islands look to coconut oil as energy saviour
PORT LOUIS (AFP) Jan 18, 2005
Struggling with rising oil prices, Pacific island nations are increasingly looking to coconut oil, long a basic foodstuff and massage lubricant, as an economically and ecologically sound petroleum alternative.
Pacific island officials gathered here last week for a UN conference on small islands extolled the virtues of the lowly coconut in reducing dependence on imported gasoline and potentially boosting ailing local economies.
Coconut oil is seen as an inexpensive and efficient renewable energy source particularly in Vanuatu, the Pacific archipelago inhabited by 217,000 people that spends about 20 percent of its annual budget on imported petroleum.
"It's a huge cost for a small economy like us," Vanuatu's Environment Minister Russell Nari told AFP on the sidelines of the island conference in Mauritius.
"If we have enough funds to produce coconut oil and if we don't have to fight against the oil lobby, islands may reduce seriously their dependency," he said.
Coconut oil was first used as fuel in the Pacific during World War II when a fuel shortage gripped the Philippines, forcing residents to look for alternatives, according to Espen Ronneberg of the Marshall Islands who serves as a regional advisor to small developing islands.
"Some clever people discovered that you can mix diesel and coconut oil to run the engine," he said.
The concept was abandoned with the end of the war but restarted several years ago as the price of oil began to skyrocket, Ronneberg said.
Last June, the idea got a boost when energy ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) urged that more priority be given to renewable energy sources, including coconut and palm oil.
Today, residents of Vanuatu, the Marshall Islands and their fellow Pacific nations, Samoa and the Cook Islands, all use coconut oil as fuel for diesel engines but still on a relatively small scale. About 100 private buses in Vanuatu's capital of Port Vila are powered at least in part by coconut oil as are similar vehicles in the Marshall Islands, officials said.
In addition to reducing dependency on foreign petroleum, coconut oil offers several additional advantages, they said.
It does not pollute, and better yet, it has a "beautiful smell," said Vanuatu's Nari.
It is also cheap, costing about 80 cents per liter, compared with one dollar seventeen cents for the same amout of diesel, officials said.
And if it catches on as a fuel source, it could rescue Pacific island economies that have been hard hit by plummeting prices for coconut oil, one of their chief exports.
"It's a disaster because entire families depend on coconuts," Nari said.
"This could bring about a new life for the coconut," he said, adding that about 20 people in Port Vila now work in factories where coconut oil is used as a base to produce fuel.
It takes about five coconuts to make about a liter of fuel and the process is similar to that used to produce massage oil, although it requires more purification, Nari said.
And the fuel can be used to power all diesel engines without any technical modifications. "If you are running out of fuel, you can just stop at the next petrol station and fill up your car with diesel," Nari said.
Despite high hopes for coconut oil to become a leading fuel source in the Pacific islands, its use would be problematic in the developed world, according to Ronneberg.
Coconut oil's lone drawback appears to be that it can be used as fuel only at a minimum ambient temperature of 17 degrees Celsius (62 degrees Fahrenheit), he said.
But if industrialized countries are interested, perhaps they could find a way to heat the oil, he suggested.
Posted 1:38 PM by Luigi
The Traditional Tree Initiative--Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry
From Craig Elevitch, Project Coordinator (email@example.com).
Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry aims to meet the needs of educators, extension agents, researchers, producers, and land users by creating a concise, practical, user-friendly information resource for traditional Pacific Island agroforestry species. The project is producing a series of 12-24 page species profiles covering 50 of the most important species in the region. Each species profile provides detailed, practical information on the uses, products, interplanting applications, environmental requirements, and propagation methods for each species. A group of 30 leading authorities in traditional and native Pacific Island species is authoring the species profiles. The profiles will be freely available in electronic form at http://www.traditionaltree.org./ As of 18 January 2005, 20 profiles are posted and available for comment.
Monday, January 17, 2005
Posted 3:19 PM by Luigi
Directory of Development Organizations 2004
Bert Wesselink has prepared a Directory of Development Organizations to facilitate international cooperation and knowledge sharing in development work, among NGOs, research institutions, governments and private sector organizations. You can donwload the sections on individual Pacific countries here, but note that the full document for the whole region is large (1.9 MB).
Posted 2:47 PM by Luigi
Islands' Fears on Climate, Trade Acknowledged
By C. Bryson Hull
PORT LOUIS (Reuters) - Small island nations won world recognition of their climate change fears on Friday but failed to persuade the international community to reinstate trade preferences to protect their fragile economies.
Calls for a global early warning system joined the islands' wish-list at a United Nations-led meeting of 37 islands, diplomats and Secretary-General Kofi Annan, after a devastating Asian tsunami killed more than 160,000 people.
Fears of submergence by rising seas and lobbying for trade preferences for fragile island economies was high on the islands' agenda.
Islands did not succeed in persuading the world to return trade preferences to them. The phase-out of trade quotas has left in dire straits undiversified island economies, already hampered by isolation and limited resources.
The strategy adopted on Friday asks islands to take a bigger role in their own development, while donors promised to provide technical assistance and recognize island vulnerability to disaster and trade globalization.
On climate change, the conference urged the international community to further cut emissions of greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming, as the Kyoto Protocol demands.
Islands, if united, can use the strategy to push their aims at other world bodies, like the World Trade Organization, said Anwarul Chowdhury, the meeting's secretary-general.
"This agenda, to really bear fruit, needs to be pursued in other forums," said Chowdhury, also the top U.N. official for least-developed nations.
Islands worry that rising seas, which a U.N. panel of 2,000 scientists has linked to global warming caused by burned fossil fuels, could submerge them. A minority of scientists dispute the findings as based on erroneous climate models.
Tuvalu, its existence threatened by rising seas, said the strategy lacked any solid pledges to mitigate climate change.
"At least there is still room to move forward," said Enele Sopoaga, the tiny Pacific archipelago's U.N. ambassador.
Some were pleased the islands' position that climate change is happening now was acknowledged.
"Finally, all parties have agreed that climate change is having an effect on (small islands) right now and that we need to put in place policies in place to reverse this," said Gordon Bispham, director of the Barbados-based Caribbean Policy Development Center.
Annan said the islands' position carried more weight now because of an "shift of sympathy" by the international community, after seeing images of tsunami destruction.
"Even those who had been a bit skeptical about the impact of global warming cannot say that they have no idea of the damage water can do," Annan told reporters.
The strategy urges all international bodies, including financial institutions, to pay attention to island needs, but is not specific. There is no timeframe for implementation, either, delegates said. (Additional reporting by Nita Bhalla)
Sunday, January 16, 2005
Posted 4:09 PM by Luigi
Resources on agriculture in PNG
The "Agriculture in Papua New Guinea" website has links to all agricultural agencies in PNG, donor agencies who contribute to building the agriculture sector, press releases, global and national news, statistical data on agricultural marketing and commodity prices etc.
Especially useful is the page on publications, which includes a link to the PNG Journal of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. According to the website: "the Ag. Journal, as it is also known, deals with recent advances in tropical agriculture (including livestock, forestry and fisheries). It includes papers on rigorously executed research which has either been carried out in PNG and South Pacific or is of special interest to primary producers in this South Pacific region. Its distribution is to universities, colleges, research stations and provincial officers, libraries within Papua New Guinea and to many libraries, universities and research institutions overseas."
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Posted 6:06 PM by Luigi
Samoa Quarantine Service website
Samoa Quarantine Service has a new website. SQS is part of the Ministry of Agriculture, and its job is to protect Samoa against incursions of unwanted organisms such as animal and plant pests and diseases, weed species, or anything else that could alter the Samoan environment.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Posted 1:50 PM by Luigi
Journal of South Pacific Agriculture (JOSPA)
The Journal of South Pacific Agriculture (JOSPA) is the only scientific agricultural journal published in the South Pacific Region. It is published by the Institute for Research, Extension and Training in Agriculture (IRETA) of the University of the South Pacific in Samoa and is distributed in printed and soon in electronic formats.
The publication is a recognized peer-reviewed venue for agricultural scientists and researchers to publish the results of their research. Publishing in JOSPA adds value to the curriculum of researchers in the Pacific and contributes to disseminating research results among students and progressive island farmers and fisherfolk, thus benefiting both sectors, which form the backbone of small island economies.
The JOSPA editorial board invites interested researchers to submit their papers to the following address:
Institute for Research, Extension and Training in Agriculture (IRETA)
For more information contact:
Dr Walli Ullah: firstname.lastname@example.org
Semi Sovunidakua: email@example.com
Daniel Prasad: prasad_D@samoa.usp.ac.fj
Aterina Samasoni: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted 12:38 PM by Luigi
Documenting traditional food systems in Pohnpei
This just in from Lois Englberger and Adelino Lorens in Pohnpei.
The Island Food Community of Pohnpei has now been invited to be the 12th case study in a global health project in collaboration with the Center for Indigenous Peoples' Nutrition and Environment (CINE), McGill University, Canada. This is a project to document traditional food systems and to test a methodology for doing this. There are 12 such case studies throughout the world, including in Thailand, India, China, and Bangladesh. It is planned that the project will be carried out in a 2-3 month period and it has been tentatively scheduled for May-July 2005.
Following this study should be a two-year intervention of promoting traditional locally grown foods, after which a further evaluation will be held. Members of IFCP and the collaborating groups in Pohnpei, including Health, Agriculture/Economic Affairs, and the College of Micronesia-Cooperative Research and Extension, are enthusiastic about the study and have given their support.
The Island Food Community of Pohnpei is a non-governmental organization, chartered in January 2004 with the goal of researching, documenting, and promoting locally grown food for its many reasons: health, food security, income-generation, and cultural preservation.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Posted 6:35 PM by Luigi
Keeping island states above water
Below are reproduced the views of Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on the particular development challenges faced by Small Island States. I've highlighted the paragraph on PGR in bold.
Top government and United Nations officials from around the world are meeting this week in Mauritius to assess the progress made in helping some 40 Small Island Developing States to overcome the many economic and environmental difficulties that threaten their very existence.
Rarely has a long-planned conference been more timely than this one, which comes less than three weeks after the tsunami that killed more than 150,000 people and destroyed millions of lives and livelihoods around the Indian Ocean basin. The Tsunami brought home the vulnerability of small islands to natural disasters by taking its heaviest toll in lives and property in island countries.
The road to the Mauritius conference began long before this latest disaster. Some progress has been made to improve living standards in SIDS countries, but much remains to be done to strengthen their economies and their capacities to better withstand the shocks of both globalization and natural disasters.
The effort to recognize and assist SIDS as a special group of states began in 1994 with the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of SIDS in Barbados. The conference adopted the Barbados Program of Action, which calls for specific actions and measures to be taken in support of the sustainable development of small island countries.
The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development reaffirmed small islands as a special case, adopting a series of SIDS-specific issues and concerns in the Johannesburg Plan of Action. In a follow-up to the summit, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution that called for a comprehensive review of the Barbados Program of Action at an international meeting in Mauritius in 2004, 10 years after its adoption.
While the threat from environmental changes, hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons is widely known, these islands face many other lesser known, but no less serious, challenges to the health and livelihood of their people and economies.
The 1996 World Food Summit declaration and the Millennium Development Goals call on the world community to cut the number of hungry people in the world in half by 2015, recognizing that hunger and malnutrition are the leading causes of poverty and underdevelopment.
Hunger and malnutrition pose a particularly serious threat for developing island countries, which were until the early 1990s, mostly self-reliant in food with their people enjoying healthy lives and lifestyles. Islanders lived in harmony with nature, preserving and harvesting their forestry and fishing resources and raising their livestock and crops.
In recent years, all that has changed. Poverty, nutrition-related diseases and dependency on food imports are increasing at an alarming rate. The proportion of undernourished islanders is high. In 2002, 13 percent of Caribbean and Atlantic islanders were undernourished, while developing islands in the Pacific faced undernourishment rates of 14 percent.
With the successful development of tourism and ensuing economic growth, including many lifestyle changes, islanders face a growing epidemic of chronic diseases linked to poor nutrition, such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Micronutrient deficiencies are widespread and directly related to poor diets that are high in energy dense foods and low in fruits and vegetables, partly the result of expanding fast-food restaurant chains. Such traditionally cultivated species as taro, sweet potato and yam are now neglected. Uniform food production and consumption patterns, coupled with decreasing investment in agriculture and forestry, adversely affect the health and self-reliance of islanders and damage the natural resource base. The adoption of a few modern cultivars and the introduction of species alien to the islands are eroding biodiversity. Environmental vulnerability to natural disasters is increasing.
To feed their growing populations, small island countries now depend on trade to feed their people, importing on average more than 30 percent of their cereal consumption needs. For several of these island countries, more than 50 percent of the calories consumed daily by their people comes from imported food products. In islands where tourism is the dominant activity, 50 to 95 percent of foods and beverages are imported.
Globalization of the economy and the concentration of super and hypermarkets over the last five years are affecting what islanders grow and even the demand for their products in developed countries. To break out of this cycle of hunger, poverty and underdevelopment, sustainable agricultural development is vital. In almost all SIDS, 80 percent of agricultural export earnings are generated by the top five commodities including, sugar, bananas and fish products. At the same time, the availability of food in island countries is threatened by excessive dependence on food imports and the rising cost of these imports, which is increasing in proportion to total export earnings, low domestic production and productivity levels, and the inefficiencies of local markets.
Since 1994 the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization has assisted Small Island Developing States to increase food security by improving the efficiency of their food production systems. At FAO we believe that sustainable agriculture, including forestry and fisheries, has an important role to play in an effective strategy for growth in small island states. Soundly managed agriculture, forestry and fisheries increase self-reliance for island people and protect the environment in which they live.
Improved agricultural diversity and better farming practices will not only improve food security for islanders, but will reduce the ravages these countries face when struck by natural disasters. Diversified agricultural production systems, effective fisheries management and planting hurricane-tolerant crops, together with good forestry practices, would all combine to improve the lives of islanders.
This year, the FAO International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture entered into force. The legally binding treaty will help preserve agricultural genetic resources and the rights of farmers and indigenous communities. It will also ensure that plant genetic resources are conserved and used sustainably and that the benefits derived from them are shared equitably. These are advances that will serve SIDS countries well in their efforts to preserve food diversity for improved nutrition.
While land resources on small islands are small, these islands govern large tracts of ocean. The FAO project Responsible Fisheries for Small Island Developing Countries focuses on the implementation of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, to help SIDS strengthen the capacity of fisheries administrations in order to promote and facilitate responsible fisheries in support of social and economic development.
FAO's National and Regional Food Security projects promote increased food security for islanders by increasing the efficiency of their food production systems and by facilitating the production of value added agricultural products. Because the islands depend on exports of primary commodities for a large share of their export earnings, they face serious challenges in this era of trade liberalization.
Small Island Developing States are committed to the WTO reform process for agriculture, and many need special provisions to address their developmental goals and vulnerabilities. Trade liberalization must not be an end in itself, but rather a means to advance the development of small island countries. The FAO is providing trade facilitation support and policy assistance to developing islands, as well as promoting technology for increased productivity and competitiveness and improved institutional and technical capacities as a basis for trade expansion.
The International Conference of SIDS in Mauritius, which continues in Port Louis till Friday, will gather the international community around the challenges that SIDS face in a rapidly changing world. It will be an opportunity to put things in perspective, to reflect on achievements and bottlenecks since the Barbados Agreement and to forge a long-term vision based on partnerships.
Posted 12:55 PM by Luigi
Access and benefit sharing (ABS) in the development agenda of small islands
The article reproduced below is by Wendy Elliott, Junior Professional Fellow at the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS) in Japan. It includes links to a previous article on the Mauritius SIDS meeting and to a document on ABS and small islands. Many thanks to Wendy for the information.
As anticipated in last week’s article, the International Meeting for the 10-year Review of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) is currently being held in Mauritius, under the “Small Islands – Big Stakes” theme. But what are the stakes that will form basis for deliberations and negotiations? Will the management of genetic resources of small islands receive any significant attention? Or are other pressing issues, such as climate change or natural disasters likely to dominate the agenda?
In this background paper, Wendy Elliott, Junior Professional Fellow with UNU-IAS Biodiplomacy Initiative, looks at how the issue of Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing has been addressed in the preparations to the Mauritius meeting. As a follow-up, the Biodiplomacy Initiative will soon undertake a study on SIDS and ABS Governance – Present and Future.
Download the background paper Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing. Any Stake in the BPOA +10 Meeting? (Word doc).
Monday, January 10, 2005
Posted 1:11 PM by Luigi
From Dr Yohannes Samosir of the School of Land and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane.
Dr Gabrielle Persley, Mr Mike Foale, Assoc. Prof. Steve Adkins and I are developing the idea of establishing Coconut World, a coconut-based theme park for education, research and tourism. The project idea has been discussed for more than a year, including the meeting in Bali in April 2004. We are now trying to discuss the idea to see the possibility of Coconut World Australia in northern Queensland, particularly around Cairns. We therefore would like to organise a coconut conference in Cairns sometime this year. The conference would cover various issues on coconut.
I am looking for some suggestions and gesture of interest from as many people as possible.
Posted 1:04 PM by Luigi
Fiji and the World Summit on the Information Society
In the article reproduced below CTA's ICT Update, Abel Caine reports on how Fiji’s involvement in the WSIS process has brought Information and Communications Technologies s to the top of the national political agenda.
As a member of the Fijian delegation, I was just one of the 11,000 participants from 175 countries, including 44 heads of state, at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva in December 2003. We had gathered to develop a better understanding of the information revolution and its impact on the international community, but I was also able to discuss the best routes to Fiji and possible trade deals.
During one of the sessions I found myself sitting next to the President of Finland, Ms Tarja Halonen, and she asked where I was from. ‘Ahh, Fiji … paradise’, she replied when I told her. Ms Halonen then turned to the man sitting next to her and asked, ‘Jorma, does Nokia have an office in Fiji?’ Jorma Ollila is the CEO of the Finnish company Nokia, the world’s largest mobile phone supplier. As I sat there next to the president of a country and the head of Nokia, I thought about the ultimate goal of the Summit – to bring the benefits of ICTs to all nations – and began to imagine what it could mean for Fiji.
Fiji’s involvement in the WSIS all started from an email I sent to a few colleagues in the Pacific in late 2002 about the ‘wee-sis’ summit, and asking what we should do about it. Within days we had a busy email list (WSIS Pacific) up and running, and by January 2003 about 20 representatives of 10 Pacific Island countries were heading for the WSIS Asia regional conference in Tokyo. We had worked long and hard on the wording of the ‘SIDS’ paragraph that was to be included in the Tokyo Declaration. It was therefore tragic to see our beautifully crafted paragraph reduced to just a brief reference to ‘small island developing states’ in the final declaration.
By doing the diplomatic rounds and attending meetings, I have become much wiser in the ways of ‘horse-trading’ and national interest politics. Fiji may have missed out with the SIDS paragraph in Tokyo, but it scored big with the ‘youth’ paragraph of the WSIS Geneva Declaration of Principles. Two full sentences were taken directly, with full consensus, from the Fiji submission: ‘… We recognize that young people are the future workforce and leading creators and earliest adopters of ICTs. They must therefore be empowered as learners, developers, contributors, entrepreneurs and decision-makers’.
I always feel very proud when I see my own words being used in documents or on posters at international youth events. As I was a borderline youth (just 32!) at the time of the Geneva summit, I can now use the ‘youth’ paragraph as an example to show young Fijians that they too can make a difference. With the second phase of WSIS now under way, there are still some thorny issues to be settled, such Internet governance and financing for ICTs for development. Fiji will again participate in the discussions to ensure that our unique needs are acknowledged and, perhaps, reflected in the final declaration. We are aware that such a small country is unlikely to have much influence, but it is heartening to know that it is possible to contribute to the process.
One lesson I learned from attending WSIS was that the side meetings are sometimes more important than the formal sessions. In the corridors of the conference centre and at the numerous meetings, I was able to meet an incredible range of people, and to negotiate financial and technical assistance for Fiji.
No less important, Fiji’s involvement in the WSIS process has brought ICTs to the top of the national political agenda. As a result of the constant reporting to senior ministry officials, as well as briefings to cabinet ministers, ICTs are now critical elements in government planning. All ministries are required to produce IT plans to complement corporate strategy plans. What’s more, all ICT expenditures are now routed through one agency and linked to a centralized system that is aligned with regional and global obligations (such as WSIS). The Ministry of Finance has allocated US$6 million for ICT for development in 2005 and, through contacts made at WSIS, Fiji has almost concluded negotiations with China for a concessional loan of US$20 million for e-government projects.
I am about to leave my government post, so I won’t be representing the Fiji government in Tunis. One day, however, I hope that I will once again be sitting next to the President of Finland, so that I can invite her to Fiji to see how we used the WSIS process to become one of the world’s leading ICT countries.
Abel Caine is currently business development manager for ITC Services, Ministry of Finance and National Planning, Fiji.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Posted 2:17 PM by Luigi
The "Maori potato" in New Zealand
The following article recently appeared in Stuff, a New Zealand news and information website. According to this website, which includes nice photographs, by "Maori potato" is meant "a collection of varieties of Solanum tuberosum now cultivated by Maori for at least 200 years." There's more on "taewa Maori" here.
Maori potato crop getting established
7 Jan. 2005
Potatoes they may be, but there's nothing humble about the crop Te Hoori Rikirangi holds in his hands – they are treasure and one he is happily giving away.
Mr Rikirangi's one hectare Ihi Organics garden in Tauranga is one of the few places in the Western Bay of Plenty where taewa, or "Maori potatoes", are grown commercially, but every week he takes seed potatoes to Tauranga Farmers' Market to give to anyone who wants to grow them.
"I tried selling them, but I'm no salesman. I decided to give them away to people to try. My satisfaction is getting people to grow the potatoes themselves and giving me a running report on how they're doing. It's taken a while for me to let the seeds out and I don't know that my mum would have agreed with what I'm doing," Mr Rikirangi said.
"But we've already lost some of these varieties once.
"A delegation went to Japan about 10 years ago to bring these taonga back to us. All kai is a treasure but these Maori potatoes are truly a treasure."
Massey University in Palmerston North set up a seed bank for taewa five years ago and now has more than 30 varieties. Many have survived the arrival of the bigger, hybrid potatoes only thanks to being grown in marae gardens and by those who prize their "heirloom" qualities.
"My mum and uncles have all been growers," Mr Rikirangi said, "and I've learned from them."
Maori potatoes are thought to have come to New Zealand with the earliest sailors, whalers and sealers who planted them as a reliable food source. Of the six varieties that Mr Rikirangi grows perhaps only one may be mistaken for a modern potato. The others are smaller, some with pink skins, some with purple and the knobbly urenika has a dark purple skin and flesh.
The potential of these potatoes, which all have thin, edible skins, has been recognised by supermarket operators and one organics company planned to have three varieties in North Island supermarkets this month.
Mr Rikirangi has been approached by a Tauranga supermarket with a view to supplying Maori potatoes.
"I said that I can't do quantity, but they seemed happy with whatever I could manage."
He has been moving toward a full organic operation for eight years and last month had a visit from a BioGro auditor as part of the move from conversion status to fully-fledged organic production.
His decision to work his land according to organic principles was based on a desire to produce quality, rather than quantity. He keeps his various taewa as far apart as possible to guard against cross-pollination and says that although the work is hard and the hours long, his choice has been the right one.
"They thrive on being grown organically and I've been getting a super-bumper crop."
Although Maori potatoes are grown commercially in large numbers in Eastern Bay of Plenty, Mr Rikirangi believes he is one of the few growing such a wide variety.
As well, he grows two of the rarer kumara – pokena (pumpkin) and tauranga red, a strain that originated in the city for which it is named – plus chinese greens, broccoli and taro.
Meanwhile, Massey University last year began identifying the characteristics of taewa with a view to maximising their economic potential, working alongside Tahuri Whenua, the Maori Vegetable Growers' Collective.
The aim is to develop high-value food products using the unique physical and cultural aspects of the Maori potato, such as their colour, a spokesman said.
New storage and preservation technologies also need to be developed to deliver chef-ready taewa to overseas restaurants at a premium price.
Crop and Food Research are working with Massey and Maori growers in seven sites around the country testing different varieties.
Vegfed notes that Maori potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and fibre, as well as containing potassium, thiamine, folate and magnesium. They are high in starch and latest research indicates that coloured food is nutritionally preferable because of higher antioxidant levels.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
Posted 6:29 PM by Luigi
Small Islands, Big Stakes: International SIDS Meeting To Go Ahead
PRESS RELEASE: UN OFFICE OF THE HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES, LANDLOCKED DEVELOPING COUNTRIES AND SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES
The Mauritius United Nations Conference on Small Islands Will Be Held in Spite of the Tsunami: Secretary-General of the International Meeting Highlights Vulnerability of Small Island Developing States United Nations
4 January 2005
Mauritius was relatively spared by the 26 December’s tsunami and will be able to host as planned in January a major United Nations international meeting on the future of small islands worldwide. The Mauritius conference will address as a matter of priority the need for better disaster preparedness in small islands against natural disasters such as tsunamis and cyclones.
United Nations Under-Secretary-General and the Secretary-General of the United Nations International Meeting on Small Island Developing States, Anwarul K. Chowdhury, while extending his deepest sympathies to the people and governments of the countries affected by the disaster, and especially to the small island developing states, said, "Destruction of life and property to the low lying coastal areas, once again highlights the vulnerability of the small island developing states."
"This wave of destruction comes on the heels of a number of recent climatic disasters where the impact of sudden climate change has never before been more evident than the recent devastating widespread hurricanes and tropical storms affecting small island developing states, most vulnerable to global climate change," he added.
Faced with issues ranging from natural disasters and climate change to trade losses and threats from HIV/AIDS, the meeting is a forum for 37 island nations to present their problems to the international community and seek help.
"Small Island Developing States are extremely vulnerable to all kinds of natural disasters and in view of the enormous damage caused by the tsunami disaster, naturally the Mauritius conference will have that kind of a special focus," Mr. Chowdhury said.
"I am sure the issue of some kind of global early warning system will be proposed by many states and I am one of the people who believe such an early warning system should be set up
Over 2,000 participants from the islands, their traditional donor partners and other countries, including some 25 heads of State and Government, will participate from 10 to 14 January in Mauritius in the United Nations International Meeting to Review the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, which was agreed upon a decade ago at a Global Conference in Barbados.
The Mauritius Meeting is expected to adopt a proactive strategy to further implement the Barbados Programme of Action, which included priority areas like natural disasters, climate change, wastes, marine resources, freshwater, energy, biodiversity, transport and tourism. The strategy will also address emerging problems such as market access, HIV/AIDS and new security concerns, and new opportunities like the economic potential of information technology and island culture.
In addition to the official conference, several parallel events will be held in Mauritius: a Civil Society Forum (6-9 January), a youth gathering called "Youth Visioning for Island Living" (7-12 January), and a large event aimed at promoting exchanges among small islands, the "Community Vilaj" (6-14 January), which will include a dialogue and performance space as well as an "Island Market" to showcase the diversity of island products.
Information on the conference is available at http://www.un.org/smallislands2005/:
Some of the challenges faced by SIDS that will be discussed at the conference include that:
Posted 3:38 PM by Luigi
Traditional Polynesian cosmetics help save rainforests
The following article is from SciDevNet. It summarizes an interview with Paul Alan Cox (author of Plants, People and Culture: The Science of Ethnobotany, which he co-authored with fellow ethnobotanist Michael Balick; Nafanua: Saving the Samoan Rain Forest; and Islands, Plants and Polynesians: An Introduction to Polynesian Ethnobotany, which he co-authored with Sandra Anne Banack) published recently in a Malaysian newspaper.
Shampoos, moisturising creams and other products based on rain forest plants used by indigenous people in Polynesia are helping to conserve tropical forests in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
In this article, Michele Lian describes how botanist Paul Alan Cox spent 30 years researching these and other products, with the aim of bringing them to global markets and ensuring that profits are shared with their originators.
Since moving to Western Samoa in 1973, Cox has been studying the islanders' knowledge and use of the plants around them. He hopes that as well as yielding cosmetic products his research will also identify potential cures for diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
One product derived from a Samoan tree is showing promise as an HIV/AIDS drug. Thanks to a royalty agreement between scientist and the government of Samoa, if the drug is successful, the people of Samoa will get half of the profits from its sale (see Samoa to profit from indigenous knowledge deal).
Link to full article in The Star (Malaysia)
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Posted 6:34 PM by Luigi
Island Biodiversity Conservation Under the CBD
Kate Brown of SPREP has just sent the following documents following the meeting of the Ad Hoc Technical Experts Group on Island Biodiversity which took place in mid-December in Spain:
The Programme of Work identifies the following global targets:
Monday, January 03, 2005
Posted 7:35 PM by Luigi
Jackfruit genebank in Fiji
From yesterday's Fiji Times.
Jackfruit has the potential for overseas markets with exports increasing by 41 per cent last year from 2002. According to the Ministry of Agriculture's weekly Market Watch newsletter, 29 tonnes of jackfruit were exported overseas, which was up by 41 per cent from the 17 tonnes exported in 2002.
"Jackfruit which is exported frozen and vacuum packed by exporters has a good potential for overseas markets," said Principal Agriculture Officer Western Kini Namoumou. National Exports Limited in Lautoka which has been exporting jackfruit to the United States is planning to expand their exports to Australia by January next year.
"There is a big demand fro jackfruits in overseas countries and we plan to start exporting to Australia by January," said National Export Limited's director, Sunny Singh.
About 22 farmers from Lautoka and Ba area supply jackfruits to the company, which are then vacuum packed to increase shelf life and maintain quality of the fruit. The Ministry of Agriculture's Research division has been collecting different varieties of jackfruit from various areas ion the country.
"A gene bank has been established with different jackfruit varieties. "This will be further multiplied if there is a need for more jackfruit plants," said Sigatoka Research Station senior technical assistant, Nareshwar Prasad.
According to Market Watch, more tests on fruit quality, shelf life and edibility of these varieties will be done at Sigatoka Research Station.
Jackfruit is adapted to humid tropical and near-tropical climates. The jackfruit is believed indigenous to the rain forests of the Western Ghats of India. It spread early on to other parts of India, southeast Asia, the East Indies and ultimately the Philippines. It is often planted in central and eastern Africa and is fairly popular in Brazil and Surinam.
Posted 3:18 PM by Luigi
Resolutions of the International Kava Conference 2004
The International Kava Conference (IKC) was organized by the International Kava Executive Council (IKEC) in Suva, Fiji on 30 November – 2 December 2004. The Conference was sponsored by Centre for the Development of Enterprise (CDE), ProInvest, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), Fiji School of Medicine, University of the South Pacific, Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the Government of Fiji. The main objective of the Conference was to discuss new scientific data on safety and efficacy of kava in order to remove the current bans and restrictions on kava and its derivatives in key export markets. Participants included kava stakeholder representatives, scientists, health authorities and academics from 16 countries including the Pacific African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) and European Union (EU) States.
The Conference was officially opened by the Prime Minister of Fiji, Hon. Laisenia Qarase, with introductory remarks also delivered by the PIFS Secretary General, Mr Greg Urwin. They both acknowledged the contributions of IKEC as well as all sponsoring institutions and sought the continued support of donors towards addressing the kava cause. The Prime Minister urged all concerned to strive towards the removal of the bans and restrictions as this would help restore much needed income for rural households in particular. Amongst the measures he suggested to effect this, was the harmonisation of kava legislation in the region to ensure that export market requirements are fulfilled by producers and exporters in the Pacific. The Secretary General highlighted that the kava industry is an important element of regional economic development and will thus play a key role in supporting the goals of the Pacific Plan.
As a matter of priority, we the IKC participants noted:
a) That after the deliberations and presentation of new scientific evidence during the Conference, we see no grounds for the continuing bans and restrictions. We therefore call for their immediate removal by all the relevant regulatory authorities including those in the EU.
b) The Pacific Island kava-producing countries need to be urgently supported in their efforts to strengthen the kava industry and re-establish its export markets.
c) The Pacific Island Countries are committed to producing quality products by establishing and maintaining internationally recognised standards and specifications.
To achieve the above, the IKC participants endorsed the following evidences as submitted by scientists to the Conference:
1. With kava extracts produced in Europe, a number of case reports of liver toxicity were filed to the health authorities. A total of 4 cases were identified as being probably related to kava extract intake. Even accepting that all 82 reported cases are causally related, the incidence rate is one case in 50 million kava extract users. It was considered therefore that the reaction from the regulatory authorities in the EU member states appears to be disproportionate to the alleged problem.
2. It is recognized that the federal authorities of the United States of America informed consumers about potential problems and advised the industry to institute cautionary labelling as an alternative to banning kava. The IKC participants resolved that other countries should consider this option.
3. The World Health Organisation (WHO) was requested to work on kava safety evaluations as soon as possible. WHO is asked to collect detailed information from all available sources on case reports and specifications of products used in the corresponding ADR cases. The WHO was further requested to review any other information relating to kava safety/toxicity and, to communicate the review findings to its member countries. The Governments of the Pacific region were encouraged to support the WHO in this regard.
4. Sufficient evidence in well-controlled clinical trials is available for kava extracts in the treatment of anxiety. However, in order to lift the kava ban, the German health authorities have requested additional clinical data which may require substantial financial resources. Furthermore, authorities including WHO and MHRA shall be asked to consider the outcomes of the two scientific reviews (meta-analyses) done by independent authors.
5. To date, investigations suggest a hypothesis that the causal factors to the case reports may be related to the variety of kava utilized, and possibly the extraction method. This hypothesis needs to be tested. However, new toxicity tests using liver cells and whole animals showed no toxicity at relevant doses.
6. IKC called for the support from Post Forum dialogue partners including the French government to re-establish the important research work of the CIRAD in the Pacific on the cultivation and processing of kava.
7. IKC called on the European Pharmacopoeia to restart the preparation of a monograph on Piper methysticum.
8. It is recommended that precise technical specifications are developed and implemented as a “gold standard” for kava raw material with stringent quality control measures in the Pacific to ensure that only suitable kava varieties are grown and marketed. The gold standard should include a state-of-the-art chemical fingerprint to represent the spectrum of ingredients. Full traceability and compliance to GACP and GMP should be documented with each shipment. These measures need to be audited through an accredited organisation. IKEC is asked to establish the necessary framework.
The IKC participants also noted and agreed to support the following:
1. That IKEC continues implementing the Kava Strategy as agreed to at the Brussels Stakeholders Meeting in August 2003 continues. The present research and public relations campaign to mitigate the negative publicity on kava are to be intensified. IKEC should also generate new data to facilitate the lifting of the bans/restrictions and source the necessary funding support to pursue its activities.
2. It was agreed that IKEC be formally incorporated as a representative organization of kava producer associations, exporters and importers and other players, representing all stakeholders in the kava industry.
3. The scientific community acknowledged and respected the different forms of kava preparations (kava powder and water-based beverages) that have been in use for centuries. The scientists further agreed that these modes of preparations could be safe as long as traditional methods of choosing kava cultivars and plant parts are followed. Specifically, only certain varieties have been found to be suitable for daily use hence, it was agreed to promote the efficacy and safety of the traditional product for use by international consumers.
4. IKEC is to evaluate and plan for the registration of a selected kava product under the EU Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD EC 2004/24).
The IKC participants further sought support in the following areas:
Capacity Building and Networking
1. Training programmes are to be developed to enhance quality and capacities at all levels of the kava production and value-adding chain. This should include farmers, processors and exporters. The exchange of information and sharing of experiences amongst stakeholders and key institutions are to be encouraged and supported as this would also facilitate regional quality and capacity building. Technical assistance and training and the establishment of appropriate quality control management systems at the production and processing level (GACP, GMP) have to be established.
2. Stakeholders while taking advantage of impending global opportunities for kava and its related value-added products should also take the necessary steps of patenting, branding of Pacific Kava, including intellectual property rights.
Funding and Partnerships
1. IKC appreciated the strong support of CDE and PROINVEST in financially backing the kava reinstatement project. IKEC is directed to work with CDE, PROINVEST, the ACP secretariat and CTA to establish a work plan for the future work and the funding thereof.
2. Public-Private Sector Partnerships between kava stakeholders within the Pacific and in Europe as well as with the international donor community should be strengthened to effectively address present concerns on the bans/restrictions and also tap the future global market potential for kava and its products.
In closing, the Executive Director of IKEC thanked the participants, including the speakers and all of the supporting institutions for their contributions and urged their continued assistance and cooperation towards the successful implementation of the outcomes to which they had agreed.
3 December 2004
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