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, April 28, 2005

    Saving coconuts in Southeast Asia and Pacific islands

    From the FAO website: Biological pest control enlists natural enemy to combat coconut beetle.

    12 April 2005, Bangkok - A tiny parasitic wasp may help save the coconut industries of a number of countries in the Asia and Pacific region from a destructive pest that feeds on the developing leaves of the coconut palm, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today.

    Severe attacks by the coconut hispine beetle (Brontispa longissima Gestro) can destroy palm leaves and significantly reduce coconut yields. If a palm is young or suffers from poor growing conditions, it may die.

    The beetle has invaded coconut plantations in the Maldives, Nauru, Thailand, Viet Nam, the Lao's People's Democratic Republic and China, causing massive losses to local coconut industries. In response, FAO has launched biological control projects in all the affected countries aimed at achieving long-term control of the pest with the help of one of its natural enemies.

    "Biological control has proven to be the most effective and we are currently mass-rearing a small wasp parasitoid, Asecodes hispinarum, which attacks the larvae of the beetle, to control the spread of the pest and bring it to non-economically damaging levels," said Wilco Liebregts, an FAO consultant and expert in biological pest control.

    Within several months of its release in southern Viet Nam in August 2003, the parasite caused significant reductions in beetle densities and damage to coconut palms, and trees showed clear signs of recovery, returning to pre-infestation production levels.

    Spread of the pest

    The coconut beetle is widespread in areas of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and a number of Pacific island countries. However, this invasive pest is new to continental Southeast Asia where, in the absence of natural enemies, it is rapidly spreading and causing massive damage.

    The beetle was first detected in Viet Nam, the Maldives and China within the last five years, and is believed to have been imported with ornamental palm trees.

    "If left unchecked, the beetle's spread into Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Sri Lanka will have a similar devastating impact on the smallholder and plantation coconut industry in those countries, putting at risk the livelihoods of a great number of people dependent on this crop," said Keith Chapman, FAO Industrial Crops Officer in Thailand.

    Economic loss and threat to livelihood

    Coconut palms provide many basic products ranging from fresh drink, food, oil, fiber, oleochemicals and household utensils to timber and building materials. They play an important role in the environment, health, food security and livelihoods of many people in the region.

    In the Maldives alone, economic losses caused by the pest are significant. There, coconut is not only an important local food crop, but is perhaps even more important for the tourism industry. Management from one resort island estimated losses between June 2000 and February 2003 at US$ 237 000 already due to a decline in tourism because of unhealthy palm trees and shift in labour from productive activities to insecticide application. Losses in revenue from coconut sales and drinks are estimated at a further US$33 000 for the same period for the holiday islands.

    A study commissioned by FAO showed that if left uncontrolled, the beetle infestation would cause in excess of US$1 billion in damage in Viet Nam alone, seriously threatening the survival of the coconut industry there. Assessments of the damage in the other affected countries indicate that the pest would have a similar impact there.

    The control of the pest has therefore become of international concern and is of highest priority to the governments of the countries in the region. In China, the pest has been elevated to a status of second most important forestry pest, even though only a few provinces have a sufficiently warm climate to allow the coconut to grow.

    Biological control

    Government authorities in the region responded quickly to the incursion and launched control programmes involving the application of insecticides to the crown and stem of infested trees. In the Maldives and China, large numbers of seedlings and even mature trees were also removed and destroyed. However, the pest continued to spread and chemical control proved not only expensive and ineffective but also a serious health risk to farmers, families and consumers - as coconut plantings are often situated near homes.

    "The application of insecticides can only serve as a temporary control measure," said Tran Tan Viet, a biocontrol specialist at Nong Lam University in Viet Nam. "Biological control is the most effective method, given the cost and benefit ratio."

    Most countries, however, lack expertise in biological control in general and of this pest in particular. To build capacity in these countries in biological control of pests and increase public awareness on non-chemical, environment-friendly control methods, FAO is helping them develop integrated pest management programmes that follow international standards set by FAO. This support has assisted the countries in identifying the coconut hispine beetle to species level, in collecting and importing natural enemies of the beetle from Samoa in the Pacific, in rearing them in captivity for evaluation, and in releasing them into the fields.

    FAO is now assessing the effectiveness of these exotic natural enemies in controlling the beetle and in helping to develop integrated pest management strategies that suit each country's unique environment.

    "The biological control programmes of the coconut hispine beetle are excellent examples of achieving sustainable, long-term control of a very damaging invasive alien pest that minimizes impacts on the environment and the countries' unique indigenous biodiversity," said Peter Kenmore, an FAO expert in pest management.

    Contact: Maria Kruse Information Officer, FAO maria.kruse@fao.org

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    Tuesday, April 05, 2005

    More on Fiji breadfruit industry

    Fiji Times, Wednesday, 6 April 2005

    THE increasing demand for breadfruit in overseas markets has forced the Agriculture Ministry and the Natures Way Cooperatives and similar stakeholders to look at ways to produce quality fruit.

    Fiji Breadfruit Industry Development Project Coordinator Andrew McGregor said breadfruit has a large market potential with the Pacific Islanders living in New Zealand. Last year Fiji exported 10.5 tonnes of breadfruit, which was up to 35 percent from the 6.8 tonnes exported in 2003.

    "This year the forecast for breadfruit exports is between 20-25 tonnes," said Mr McGregor. In its efforts to improve the quality of the fruit, the Research Division of the ministry has begun looking into ways of raising seedlings through different ways of raisings seedlings through different propagation techniques like marcotting, root cuttings and root suckers.

    "Proper ways of fruit harvesting, sap management and packaging can maintain the quality of breadfruit and also improve its shelf life," said Post Harvest Handling Specialist Grantley Chaplin.

    The two main breadfruit varieties that are being exported are Uto Dina and Bale Kana. He said the fruits kept on respiring even after harvesting and that led to the softening and collapsing of the cartons in which they are packed in.

    A Horticultural Information and Training Specialist Alan Harre said the importers want the packaging of same size fruits. "Importers want fruits to be graded by sizes and varieties while packaging to improve presentation and sales," Mr Harre said.

    Officers from the Agriculture Ministry are working closely with exporters in supervising the spraying of breadfruit trees to control pests. Agriculture Extension officers are also present during harvesting time to avoid any unsprayed breadfruits from being harvested.

    Major exporters of breadfruits are National Exports, Mahen Exports, Ram's Valley Fresh, Maqere Exports and Green Valley Fresh. National Exports packs the commodity and exports it to the United States of America.

    * Comments:

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    PGR Policy Training

    Policy issues are recognized as being critical to sustainable conservation and use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) in the Pacific. Increasing the awareness of such issues among decision-makers and other stakeholders features prominently in the Pacific PGR Action Plan, agreed in 2001 at the launch of the Pacific Agricultural Plant Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN). Accordingly, such issues, and in particular the recently-concluded International Treaty on PGRFA, were discussed in the recent PAPGREN-sponsored SPC publication Policy Issues Related to PGR in the Pacific: A Guide for Researchers and Policymakers. They were also debated at length during the Meetings of Ministers and Heads of Agriculture and Forestry organized by SPC in October 2004. However, it was felt that further awareness-raising was necessary.

    Dr Mary Taylor, Regional Germplasm Centre Adviser attended a training workshop on the use of the IPGRI/ISNAR Law and Policy Issues in PGR Conservation and Use training module in June 2004, with support from IPGRI, which is also providing technical support to PAPGREN and financial support via donor-funded projects. A week-long train-the-trainers workshop was thereafter organized by PAPGREN in late March 2005, with support from NZAID and ACIAR via projects that IPGRI has with SPC to support PGR networking in the Pacific. The objectives of the workshop were to provide PGR professionals and environmental law experts in the Pacific region with the knowledge, tools and resources they need to inform and train different stakeholders at the national level in PGR policy issues and concepts. More particularly, the workshop aimed to:
    1. Create awareness of all the laws and policies relating to PGR
    2. Help GR managers to navigate through this environment so they can promote sound and scientific management – and get a feeling for the process – through the exercises
    3. Test the IPGRI/ISNAR training module on Law and Policy and get feedback, including ideas for improvement and for follow-up

    The dozen participants represented an unusual and stimulating mix of PGR practitioners, managers and environmental lawyers, and included staff of NGOs, government ministries of environment and agriculture and regional organizations from throughout the Pacific region. The programme was adapted from the training module and was flexible enough to allow changes during the course of the workshop itself to respond to specific suggestions by participants. Each day ended with participants listing the strengths and weaknesses of the day and completing a PAPA (participant action plan approach) form detailing possible actions to be taken on their return to the office, based on the day's activities. Each day began with volunteer participants summarizing the events of the previous day and the strengths and weaknesses of the programme. All exercises were done in three small groups (4-5 people) including one legal expert each.

    A report on the course, including proposed follow-up activities and recommendations, is available on request.

    To stay up to date with developments in law and policy related to PGRFA:

    1. Contact SPC, SPREP as necessary

    2. Consult – and contribute to – “PGR News from the Pacific” (blog and email news alerts)
    At national level, liaise with NBSAP focal points on CBD issues and legal office of Ministry of Agriculture on ITPGRFA

    3. Check out the websites of the major relevant international treaties

    4. Email news alerts

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    Monday, April 04, 2005

    Taro in Hawaii

    To follow-up the recent news on the East Maui Taro Festival, just two examples among many (no endorsement implied!) of how taro is being promoted by the private sector in Hawaii.
    1. Find out about the "Original Maui Taro Burger" here. Includes recipes.
    2. Their website is not complete, but this company will apparently be propagating commercially 8 varieties of taro.

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    Thousands hungry in the Reef Islands

    HONIARA, Solomon Islands (SIBC, April 1) – As many as 7,000 people of the Reef Islands in the Solomon Islands Temotu province are reported to be facing a shortage of staple food. Patterson Natei of Otelo village says the food shortage started in December as a result of continuing dry weather affecting root crops and fruit trees that the people depend on for survival. He says agriculture officers in Lata have carried out a survey of the food shortage. Mr Natei says the problem is affecting school children and that attendance is getting lower each day. He calls on people on other islands in Temotu with enough food to assist those with limited food supplies.

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