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
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
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Sunday, May 22, 2005
Posted 5:44 PM by Luigi
The situation in the Reef Islands, Solomon Islands
PRESS RELEASE FROM KASTOM GADEN ASSOCIATION: A report from S.P. Lenga, Vice President of the Improved Temotu Traditional Agriculture Farmers Association. S.P. is a member of the Solomon Islands Planting Material Network supported by Kastom Gaden Association and he passed this news by HF radio from the Reef Islands, Temotu Province.
An eight-month period of unusual weather has effected Reef Islands leading to severe food shortage. It appears to have been a long dry season since the middle of 2004 followed by a long and unseasonal wet season since february 2005. The result is that kumara, cassava, taro and other root crops have yielded very poorly and have now been exhausted. Usually breadfruit should be starting to have a lot of fruit at this time of year but instead there is very little. Breadfruit trees are looking very poor and many of the young fruit fall down black on the ground. To add to the problems, flying foxes have hit the remaining breadfruit crop much harder than usual without much left for people to eat. The trees have a few young fruits, but only a couple of the many varieties grown in reef islands are fruiting and many families do not have these varieties. The result is that there will not be enough breadfruit for at least a few months and up to five months and even then people will not have enough to process into Nambo, the dried breadfruit that usually sustains people at such times. Many families lived off the wild yams in the bush and those they had planted in their agro forests, a tradition in Reef Islands, but since late last year they are all finished.
S.P. believes that declining soil fertility has made the situation much worse along with the fact that many families are not planting enough of the traditional tree crops like breadfruit, polynesian chestnut and alite in enough quantity and the different varieties including the wild yams and greens underneath in the improved temotu traditional agriculture model. The big bush is all gone and the soils are being exhausted by over cropping from a growing population. The old people say they have experienced this type of season before and they used to prepare for it with processed foods like nambo and a wide range of tree and garden crops that they could live off. But people today have forgotten this knowledge. However, S.P. believes this is the worst season in his time in Reef Islands: 'every day people just wake up and think about what are they going to do today to feed their children. At the moment they are living off sea products, mangrove fruits, bush greens' (S.P. Lenga).
'Husbands and families in Honiara should think of their children at home - we need your help. ' said Mrs S.P. Lenga.
Mrs S.P. said in past years with bad seasons families were able to look after themselves by buying food with the income they earned. But at the moment most families have very little money and just cannot afford to buy rice. Those families who work can buy rice and are doing OK.
S.P. believes that emergency food is needed and that is why they have been calling for help from the National Disaster Management Office. But in the longer term people need to plant more ITTA agro forests and learn how to improve the fertility of their land. He is concerned that many local varieties may be lost during this period. For example many families are eating all their pana and will have none for replanting.
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