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, March 07, 2005

    157 nearly extinct languages in the Pacific

    A UN Conference on Trade and Development report on protecting traditional knowledge argues that beyond a devastating impact on culture, the death of a language wipes out centuries of know-how in preserving ecosystems - leading to grave consequences for biodiversity. What does this mean for the Pacific? The impact could be great, as the article below suggests that many languages in the region are on their way to extinction. Dr Steven Winduo is director of the Melanesian and Pacific Studies (MAPS) School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Papua New Guinea. Source: Post Courier, Tuesday 8 March 2005. Thanks to Warea Orapa for pointing out the article.

    In the last report on “Our languages: Dying out . . .” which appeared on Tuesday March 1, on Focus, Dr Steven Winduo explained how an earlier report on language loss had prompted reaction from New Zealand. It was from Jim Toner, a one-time chief clerk of the District Office in Mendi between 1957 and 1959 and later in Rabaul from 1960 and 1964 who wrote about the Makolkol in 2002. Mr Toner was a field manager of the New Guinea Research Unit (ANU), now known as the National Research Institute (NRI) in Port Moresby between 1965 and 1973. Mr Toner summarised the report by David Fenbury of the Department of District Services and Native Affairs who led two patrols to end the notoriety of the Makolkol in “their habit of raiding outlying hamlets and butchering men, women and children and disappearing without trace”. However, the Makolkols are one ethnic group from the East New Britain Province who have lost their language. In the second and last part of this report Dr Winduo informs us of other languages which are on the way out, warning that something needs to be done to protect our languages.

    The 14th edition of Ethnologue: Languages of the World, lists 417 languages in the world as nearly extinct. They are classified as extinct because there are only a few elderly speakers of the language who are still living. Of the African languages, 37 of these are on their way out. In the Americas, 161 languages are classified as nearly extinct. In Asia, 55 languages face extinction while Europe has seven languages experiencing the same.

    The second largest region where languages are on their way out is the Pacific with 157 languages facing death. Of 157 nearly extinct languages in the Pacific, 12 of them are Papua New Guinean languages. Thanks to SIL (PNG), we are able to identify them. They are:
    • Abaga, a Trans-New Guinea language with only five speakers is spoken in the Goroka District of the Eastern Highlands Province. The last known data was established by SIL in 1994, a radical language loss experienced since 1975 when SIL recorded 1200 speakers of the language.
    • Bilakura, a Trans-New Guinea language with only 30 speakers living in the Adelbert Range of Madang Province. The linguists Stephen Wurm and Hattori recorded 34 speakers in 1981, but this was reduced to 30 speakers by the year 2000.
    • Gorovu or Gorova or Yerani, a Sepik-Ramu language spoken in Bangapela village along Ramu River in the East Sepik Province had 50 speakers in 1981 as recorded by Wurm and Hattori. This was reduced to 15 speakers in 2000 by the time Wurm visited that language group.
    • Gweda, an Austronesian language of the Malayo-Polynesian language family was spoken by 30 to 40 people in the Maramatana Local Council, in Alotau District of Milne Bay Province and was last visited by SIL in 2000.
    • Guramalum, an Austronesian language of Malayo-Polynesian, Central Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Oceanic, Western Oceanic, Meso Melanesian family was spoken by only three or four speakers, in 1987 as established by SIL then. This language is found in the New Ireland Province.
    • Kawacha, a Trans-New Guinea language, according to Wurm (2000) had only 12 speakers living east of Ampale and in part of the Katsiong, Morobe Province.
    • Kamasa, a Trans-New Guinea language, according to Wurm (2000) had only six to eight speakers living in part of the Katsiong Census Unit, Morobe Province. The linguist McElhanon recorded 20 speakers in 1978.
    • Laua or Labu, a Trans-New Guinea language spoken with only one speaker living north and west of Laua, (Mailu) in the Central Province. The last data was collected by SIL in 1987.
    • Sene, a Trans-New Guinea, Main Section, Central and Western language with 10 speakers living along Huon-Finisterre Range of Morobe Province. McElhanon recorded 10 or fewer speakers in 1978, although the situation hadhardly changed in 2000 according to Wurm.
    • Susuami, a Trans-New Guinea, Main Section, Central and Western language spoken by 10 speakers in 2000, according to Wurm. Susuami is a language spoken around the Upper Watut Valley outside Bulolo of Morobe Province. In 1990 Geoff Smith recorded 15 speakers.
    • Makolkol, an East Papuan, Yele-Solomons-New Britain language spoken by seven speakers, according to SIL report of 1988. Makolkol is spoken in the Gazelle Peninsula of East New Britain Province.
    • Unserdeutsch or Rabaul Creole German, the last language to go out is a Creole that is German based. Greg Volker recorded in 1981 a total of 100 or fewer speakers including 15 in New Britain, a few in other parts of PNG and the rest in southeastern Queensland, Australia. Unserdeutsch is spoken in West New Britain and Australia. According to the Ethnologue “all speakers are fluent in at least two of the following: Standard German, English, or Tok Pisin. Some can also speak Kuanua”.
    Most speakers are middle-aged or older, although many younger members of the community can understand it. The descendent of a pidginised form of Standard German which originated in the Gazelle Peninsula of New Britain during the German colonial times among the Catholic mixed-race (“Vunapope”) community. With increased mobility and intermarriage, it has been disappearing in the last few decades. In my previous articles, I raised the concern that if we are not decisive about taking action to prevent this catastrophic situation of language loss, we will lose another two or three languages. The facts provided in this article indicate that most languages lost three to five speakers within a time frame of 10 years. Some of the languages could have been lost since 1987 or even after 2000. We cannot be sure — all the more reason for us to give some serious thoughts and national priority to saving our languages, cultures, and people.

    As a start I suggest two strategies. First, a major nationwide survey on all Papua New Guinean languages should be instituted by the National Government. The results of the survey will assist the Government and appropriate institutions to work together to prevent language loss, promote vernacular languages use in oral and written forms, develop orthographies, co-ordinate translations, and consistently monitor those languages classified as near extinction.Under the direction of the Melanesian and Pacific Studies (MAPS) at UPNG, our own national linguists and students in language courses can carry out this survey if sufficient funds are made available for saving our national languages, cultures and people.The second suggestion is one that is long overdue.

    The eminent Papua New Guinea linguists the late Otto Nekitel, proposed a National Language Academy a decade ago in 1993, but no one took notice of this (Nekitel 1995). Papua New Guinea needs a National Language Institute (NLI) devoted solely to the study of Papua New Guinean languages, research, documentation, survey, and training of Papua New Guineans as linguists, translators, language planners, language surveyors, writers, and researchers. My suggestion may be too ambitious, but I am firm with one thing: If we don’t take any decisive action now we will continue to witness the death of our national languages. If we are not concerned about losing our languages then we can all sit back, relax and watch our 854 languages (Barbara Grimes 1992; Nekitel 1998) disappear one by one just like the Makolkols, Laua or Labu, Kamasa, Kaniet and Yoba. So far 10 languages are dead and 12 more are on their way out, which is a subtraction of 22 or more from the 854 languages to leave us with 832 languages or less by the year 2010. Are we happy with that?

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