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?



    Monday, February 07, 2005

    High quality kava the only way to go...

    ...if the Pacific wants to expand market.

    By Arthur McCutchan, Islands Business, January 2005.

    The drop in the quality of kava alarms Vincent Lebot. To the extent that this root crop geneticist at the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) in Port Vila, Vanuatu, is just about ready to give up drinking it.

    Lebot has been a kava consumer for the last 24 years. He’s an even keener researcher, having, since 1980, devoted most of his spare time trying to unravel the genetic mysteries of this unique Pacific plant.

    In the absence of any comprehensive study of the plant, it’s a challenge in which kava holds the advantage. “Very little research has been conducted because very few scientists work on kava,” Lebot said. “The reason for that is that there are not enough funds. Aid donors are ready to invest funds into crops which have already been researched elsewhere—like sugarcane, cocoa, coffee, coconuts and so on—because these are familiar to them.

    “They don’t like kava. It’s an obscure plant that is illegal in Europe.”The other reason, from a scientist’s point of view, is its complicated makeup.

    “This plant is a real nightmare for geneticists,” Lebot told delegates at the International Kava Conference in Suva last month. The symposium was the first organised by the International Kava Council.

    But while most plants have two sets of chromosomes, kava has 10. “It is also sterile and cannot produce true seeds,” Lebot said. “It is a vulnerable species, but we don’t know how to genetically improve it to make it more resistant to diseases, particularly when it is now under threat from the virus kava dieback.”

    While he advocates greater private sector involvement in funding all aspects of kava research, he also places total blame for the deterioration of the industry in the sector’s collective lap. “It is a traditional beverage and a local crop, but the private sector here should take full responsibility for the decline in the quality of kava produced in the Pacific,” Lebot says.

    “In the absence of a regulatory body or regulatory policies, the private sector is free to do whatever it wants with kava.

    “It is free to improve quality, to add value to local products, to process it locally, to control the cultural practices of the farmers, and so on.

    “Because it is free to do all this, it becomes fully accountable when it sells by-products like kava peelings, or when it purchases kava which is too young, uncleaned, or even when it sells false kava under the name kava.”

    The plant he calls “false kava” is known scientifically as Piper aduncum. It looks not unlike the Piper methysticum of pharmaceutical fame, but that is where the similarities end.

    Lebot also finds the private sector in Europe; the giant pharmaceutical companies that convert powdered kava into stress-relieving pills and concoctions, equally accountable for the industry’s poor reputation.“The private sector in Europe is fully responsible because they don’t want to understand that kava is a highly variable product, that local traders are not as reliable as they should be and that consequently they should make sure that they know what they are buying from the region.”

    Lebot laments the lack of real interest in kava among those who trade in it. They like the money they can get out of it but they don’t know what constitutes good kava. “They lost that culture a long time ago and are now beer drinkers.”

    He contrasts that with whisky traders in Scotland, wine traders in France and tea traders in India. “Not only are they traders, they are connoisseurs of their product. In the Pacific the private sector is not proud of the product it is dealing with.

    “Here our kava traders are selling it as a commodity, raw material, and not the high quality product it deserves to be.”

    Kava farmers who do not know any better also contribute to the state of the industry, “selling the wrong varieties to buyers, or root stocks with toxic unpeeled basal stems,” Lebot said.

    “Local governments are also to blame because they have failed to pass legislation to regulate an industry that has grown too fast.“In cases where they have set up regulations, like Vanuatu, they are not enforcing them.”

    Lebot said it would take many years and much work to rectify all these problems. “If you want consumers to drink more kava so that the market expands, you should sell high quality kava. There is no other way.”

    The region’s failure to realise the potential of this plant will effectively kill off any commercial benefits it can obtain from it.

    “There is a serious threat that other countries will take it and mass produce kava. We must remember that anything which can be cultivated in the Pacific can be grown in other tropical
    countries in not only larger quantities but at a cheaper price and of better quality,” Lebot said.

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