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 31, 2005

    Organic food in India

    As described in the article reproduced below, the market for organic food is expanding in India. Very different situation, of course, but are there some lessons here for the Pacific?

    By Nachammai Raman, correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor, Madras, India

    In a seven-acre plot of farmland south of the city, T. Mohan hunches over to weed the soil he recently planted with sesame. He just harvested his paddy crop, which - as it has for the past 30 years - had a good yield.

    In three decades, Mr. Mohan has gone from a struggling paddy farmer to a prosperous one - using methods that are now discouraged by proponents of organic farming.

    More than 30 years ago, India eagerly embraced the genetically engineered high-yielding seed stock, chemical pesticides, and fertilizers of the Green Revolution to combat frequent famines. Dams and irrigation projects were built, enabling farmers to plant two or more crops a year without being dependent on the vagaries of the monsoon.

    The Green Revolution was so successful in India that it ramped up food grain production from 863 tons per hectare of cultivated land in 1967, when it began, to 1,901 tons per hectare in 2000.

    Now some of these gains that allowed India to feed itself are being challenged by the increasing European and American demand for organic food, from pesticide-free cashews to cold-pressed coconut oil.

    The spread of organic farming in India is beginning to pit concerns about the supply of food for the masses against what are widely considered the environmentally unsustainable practices of the Green Revolution.

    "The Green Revolution definitely had benefits but also many unwanted side effects that are becoming more apparent," says Gunter Pauli, founder-director of the Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives, based in Tokyo.

    In India, organic farming received a boost at the start of the new millennium when the income potential of organic exports was realized. According to Dr. P. Bhattacharya of the National Center of Organic Farming, in Ghaziabad, India represents one tenth of the world's organic cultivation.

    It may be more ecologically sound, but feeding India's bulging population of more than 1 billion people with organic crops alone has some experts worried about the increased risk of famine.
    "That's a major problem. That has to be solved," says G. Vaidyanathan, manager of Enfield Agrobase, which pioneered organic farming in the state of Tamil Nadu more than a decade ago. Much of its organic cultivation eventually goes to the lucrative export market.

    Experts estimate that 50 percent of India's organic crop is exported, while just 1 percent of the Indian population consumes organically grown food. "Affordability is a criterion because the prices are 20-25 percent more," says Vaidyanathan.

    Mawite, who goes by one name only, runs an organic cashew farm a two-and-a-half hour drive south of Madras, in Auroville. According to her, organically grown food costs more because of the labor-intensive farming it requires.

    "They spray inorganic cashew plantations twice a year and that's it. We have to prune, compost ... the soil base has to be good," says Mawite.

    Dr. K. Mani, professor of production economics at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore, says Indian farmers, anxious about yields and demand, are unlikely to embrace organic production. Demand for organic food isn't high, he explains, because "price comes first and quality next" for the bulk of consumers here.

    "We buy what costs less," says T. Daniel, who earns $37 per month working as a security guard in an apartment building not far from Enfield Agrobase's organic retail outlet. His extended family of eight consumes three to four pounds of rice each day. His mother buys the maximum rations from the subsidized public distribution system, where rice costs 70 percent less than in regular stores.

    "It would be difficult for us otherwise," he says. The cheapest organic rice, meanwhile, costs nearly five times more than the conventional rice sold in markets.

    Ashok Khosla, director of Development Alternatives in New Delhi, says organic prices are steeper because sellers are pitching to a different clientele who are willing to pay.
    "The price has nothing to do with cost of production," he says.

    He insists that in India, organic production generally costs less than modern farming because it requires fewer investments in equipment and chemicals.

    He doesn't see organic and modern farming as incompatible. "Organic pest control by itself is probably not workable. Judicious use of chemicals may sometimes be required."

    Mr. Khosla suggests that organic farming's intense labor requirement may be a positive attribute. "What's wrong with labor intensive? Wouldn't you rather have people working on farms than migrating to city slums in search of work?"

    Khosla decried trying to produce crops that are not naturally suited to particular regions. Tanjavur, for example, is a water-scarce region that is used to grow rice, which is a water-intensive crop.

    He suggests instead growing a nutritious variety of millet, called bhajra - which is more suitable to Tanjavur's natural conditions - and importing rice from water-rich areas. "Of course, you've got to do the [economic] calculations."

    Pauli, of the Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives, goes a step further. "There is a need to do more with what the earth already produces, instead of trying to force the earth to produce more."

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