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).
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Friday, March 04, 2005
Posted 7:44 PM by Luigi
"Yam" festival in Jamaica
From the Jamaica Observer, an article describing a Yam Festival being organized in one of the island's parishes. I believe "yam" is the word used for sweet potato in Jamaica, but I stand to be corrected. In any case, it does show the kind of event that could be organized in support of plant genetic resources conservation, for example as part of agricultural shows, as is already happening in some places in the Pacific.
Mark Cummings, Observer staff reporter, 5 March 2005
The Southern Trelawny Environmental Agency (STEA), organisers of the parish's popular yam festival, are hoping to attract more than 25,000 patrons and net in excess of $1-million in profit from this year's event.
The festival is being staged on March 28 this year in Albert Town, at a cost of $3-million."Our feeling this year is that we are going to attract about 25,000 people because over the years we have been seeing increases. In addition, we are going to have some new features this time around," STEA's chairman Hugh Dixon said of the festival which attracted an estimated 18,000 patrons and earned $622,000 in profit last year.
Among the new features to be incorporated into the festival, the STEA head said, is the inclusion of participants from other islands like St Lucia and Suriname to showcase their own culinary delights and crafts. In addition, he noted that several persons from the parish would be honoured for their outstanding contributions to the country. Other activities at the festival will include:
The Trelawny festival was first held in 1997 on the grounds of the Albert Town High School to help raise funds for STEA's environmental projects. Over the next three years, it grew rapidly and attracted both local and overseas patrons. However, its 2001 staging saw STEA chalking up losses of more than $400,000, despite a record 12,000 patrons in attendance. The agency cited the lack of a proper venue to stage the event as the main cause of the losses, and said that a new venue would have to be found.
A site was later identified in the nearby Spring Garden community, but plans to put in the necessary infrastructure fell through after a breakdown in the negotiations between STEA and the Agriculture Ministry. After a two-year hiatus, the show returned and was held at the Albert Town square.
Meanwhile, this year's show will see the entire Albert Town community cordoned off while traffic coming from the Northern section of Trelawny and from Manchester will be diverted.
Bob Ikin points out that in fact "yam" is Dioscorea in Jamaica. It turns out that yam cultivation is a threat to forests in Jamaica. Farmers use saplings harvested from the forest as "yam sticks" to support the plant as it grows. Yam stick demand is estimated to be six million per year.
I came across the following description of yam preservation in Jamaica. Probably there are similar methods in use in the Pacific?
"Yam was one of the main staples of the population and was, and still is, grown widely across Jamaica. It was reserved to carry families through hard times or when foodstuff was scarce.
All kinds of yams were preserved but the best-suited yams included Renta, Muzella, White Yam and Puppa Will. Today the practice of curing yams has died out except in a few rural districts.
The best quality and the largest tubers were taken out of the ground and handled carefully so that no bruises would take place, as this would cause the yam to rot. The yam would be treated by sprinkling a generous coat of ashes at the top where it was cut from the yam head. The ashes came from the same burnt wood in the fireside. The heap of yam would be put in the hot sun for a couple of days to be dried. This drying process resulted in the yam getting very hard. It would then be stored in a cool dry place away from contact with any form of moisture.
Most yams would stay in the desired space and become very dry within three months. Yam preserved in this way could last for over a year. Such a yam would be very powdery and delicious when boiled. Many people therefore liked to eat this kind of yam. Other ground provisions such as dasheens could also be preserved in this way but yams was the popular tuber for preservation."
In addition to the earlier comment noted by Luigi, Jamaica has also been involved in the development of yam minitubers as planting stock. This was prompted because it promotes the development of even tuber size that is more acceptable to the market. I think it was an IITA project (I was in Jamaica in 1986). Jamaica is now one of the main exporters of yam worldwide, much of it to the US.Post a Comment
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