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?



    Thursday, March 17, 2005

    Cassava remains popular on Guam despite recent news reports

    By Jojo Santo Tomas santotomas@guampdn.com
    Pacific Daily News

    Chito Iglopas has eaten cassava all his life. As a youngster growing up in the Visayas in the Philippines, Iglopas remembers eating the starchy root as often as he ate rice -- sometimes more.

    So when the Filipino chef heard the news last week that two dozen children died eating cassava, his heart went out to the students in Bohol. But his experience and training as a professional chef told him that it was an isolated incident and he would continue to eat and prepare the dish as he normally does.

    "I was really sad for the kids; I have kids, too. But when I heard that news about the cassava that killed the kids, I felt that it's not cassava. I felt that it's something else," he says. "To my knowledge, no one ever died eating cassava. It grows everywhere and it's very inexpensive."

    Cassava, which grows in abundance on Guam, is known locally as mendioka or tapioca. It is the main ingredient in Chamorro dishes such as apigigi and tamales mames, and is popular among Filipinos as the base for cassava cake and maruya, fried slices of cassava topped with caramelized sugar.

    On March 9, 27 children died and more than 100 others were hospitalized after eating maruya in Mabini, a town on Bohol island about 380 miles south of Manila. City officials there reacted by urging residents to uproot all of the long tubers as dozens of cassava products sat unsold on store shelves.

    But earlier this week, Philippine health officials determined that it was a pesticide found in the cassava mixture that killed the children, and not the cyanide that is found naturally in the roots.

    The more popular yellow cassava has about 60 parts per million of cyanide, while white cassava has about 350 parts per million. However, the cyanide is destroyed during a normal cooking process such as frying, boiling or roasting, making it a wholesome, nutritious food.

    Even before hearing about the pesticide, chef Jhamnong Kraitong of the Westin Resort Guam was convinced the food was tainted. Kraitong hails from Thailand, one of the world's largest exporters of cassava, more commonly known there as tapioca.

    "It is a very good food," he says. "It not poisonous. Even the young leaf, you can use it for cooking."

    Chamorro chef Peter Duenas of Sam Choy's Restaurant says he was surprised and dismayed to hear about the students' deaths after eating cassava, but he agreed that it would probably wind up as an isolated incident. He uses the ingredient often in his cooking, whether it's freshly ground from roots found on his property or from ready-to-use frozen packets found at most grocery stores.

    "Man, in the Philippines, you see it everywhere you go. Any store, any street vendor, they got the fresh cassava going on. I love that stuff -- it's a soothing dessert because it's sugary, chewy and it's got coconut in it," he says. "Here, you don't see it as much, but it's still popular. In fact, every culture I know of uses it in some way."

    Local sales unaffected

    At least two local retailers say that last week's incident hasn't affected sales.
    Roberto Bumagat, who handles purchasing for the Great Mart grocery store chain on Guam, brings in frozen, grated cassava by the container from the Philippines.

    Besides the raw product, his stores also carry ready-to-eat cassava cake made by local catering companies.

    "We've sold out a couple of times already, so I don't think it affected our sales as far as the demand for cassava cake," he says. "I really don't think it will affect much here because that incident happened in the Philippines."

    Sheila San Agustin, whose family runs the Chode store and catering company in Anigua, also sells raw cassava and ready-to-eat products such as apigigi and tamales mames.

    "I did read about that incident. But I'm not really worried because my cassava is backed up by the company that sends it here," she says. "I don't think there will be any public reaction here."
    In fact, she says, she can't seem to keep the cassava products on the shelves because customers are buying it as fast as she can display it.

    "It's Chamorro week," she says. "Everybody wants it now."

    Full of vitamins

    Rachael T. Leon Guerrero, a professor of nutrition at the University of Guam, says she and some friends were discussing the possibilities after hearing about the incident in Bohol.

    "Cassava is just a root crop -- not something you could really screw up on. Once you cook it, everything's pretty much taken care of," she says. "It's a very common root staple for a lot of Pacific islands and parts of Asia and it's used all over the world."

    Leon Guerrero says that cassava has good amounts of vitamin C, calcium and fiber -- not as much as its tuberous counterparts taro, sweet potato and yam -- but it's still much better than the enriched white rice so popular in the local diet.

    "So it's really good for the body. It's fine -- go ahead and continue to eat it if that's what you eat," she says.

    www.starch.dk and sources quoted in this story

    Originally published March 18, 2005

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