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
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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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Monday, August 22, 2005
Posted 5:11 PM by Luigi
Breadfruit vs rice
From Herman Semens in FSM.
To Pacific islanders breadfruit is an important staple food such as rice to other people in other parts of the world. Today rice has displaced breadfruit in most Pacific Islands, if not all. When you think about the health aspect of breadfruit and rice, we know that breadfruit is better. When we look at the economic aspect of it, the amount of money sent out to foreign countries to help their employees grow rice for export to FSM is ridiculously high while our breadfruit falls to the ground to rot. What is the problem? Is it the lack of interest among entrepreneurs to process breadfruit into value-added product for export? Is it the cost of breadfruit that discourage people from patronizing the local produce markets? Is it the people responsible for preparing food for the family that prefer rice to breadfruit because of the easy work involved in cooking rice? Is it because people today do not understand that our own breadfruit is healthier
than imported rice or other processed foods? Is it a status symbol that one must have rice even if the breadfruit is rotting away?
Eating and getting used to a particular type of food is an acquired habit that is developed over time as people grow. Micronesians were spoiled and are still spoiled by the displacement of our traditional food values by imported foreign food, especially rice. I say spoiled because it all
started by the government when during the TT period US provided "hot lunch" program in the schools were the youth then who are now young adults were fed with rice and canned foods.
The decision makers then were authorizing purchase of imported food rather than investing the funds in local staples so that our young people would get used to eating their own local food. Instead, tons of rice were purchased and kids acquired the habit and got to like the rice. Today it is rare to sit at a table in a family setting and eat the same type of food. The older generation would eat local while the young eat rice. Think about the health and the economic benefit of this.
Reinforcement of habits continued under Compact I and unfortunately we see the same thing happening under Compact II. We continue to see purchase of rice for our young generation in schools. The children of the young parents who acquired the habit of eating rice during the TT period are now feeding their young kids with rice. So the cycle continues. Should we then process our breadfruit for export to bring in foreign exchange to buy rice? Why not, it is an open global market today as the G8 are telling us in the developing countries.
For those of you who do not know about the valuable collection of breadruit we have in the Botanical Garden, during the TT all breadruit varieties in Micronesian were planted at the former AG Station (not Botanical Garden). It is rare collection of various species of breadfruit which are not being cared for today.
So what should we do or what can we do to make people of FSM take pride in eating their own food because it is healthier and save the money them the money spent on rice to pay for things that can help improve their standards of living?
It is a complex question, but I say we can start at the schools today where another young generation is growing up. People who make decisions to buy food for the schools should put priority on purchase of local staples such as breafruit, yam, taro, banana, etc. It may seems more expensive but if you think of the combined health and economic benefits, they outweigh the savings made from buying rice or other imported food.
If you work with the famers closely, they will tell you that during breadfruit season, breadfruits are wasted. Why not make it a requirement to buy local food first? Where are the FSM JEMCO representatives? The US JEMCO representatives I understand maintained a strong position that certain compact funds will be set aside for textbooks. Why not set aside some funds
for purchase of local foods for schools before we venture into some fancy use of these local staples?
My apology for this lengthy comment but I share everyone views about this important natural resource that is abundant in FSM. When we talk about allocation of scarce resources, we must consider using ours first. After all, we are a dependent independent country that is trying to be truly independent and let's be serious about it so that FSM can stay intact after 2023.
Thank you all.
The question of the replacement of traditional staples by rice has been a popular subject of speculation and debate for decades. Diets are changing very rapidly and many adults (and children of course) now prefer rice rather than locally grown root crops or breadfruit. They have "good" reasons for that: rice is cheap, it is ready to use, cooked in ten minutes, easy to store, quite clean to handle and allow consumers to stay in the villages instead of going to their gardens, often located far away, especially during the rainy season. From an economic point of view, it is impossible for locally grown starches to compete with imported cereals (corn, wheat, rice). The same is true for beer that necessitate huge imports to produce the most popular beverage in the south pacific, since European contact, thanks to acculturation. In most countries, urban dwellers are fed by Australian or New Zealand farmers, local farmers in the PICs, who cannot grow cereals, cannot feed the towns because diets have already changed and are therefore loosing the only market they should have access to. Globalisation, being what it is these days, it is quite obvious that these trends are going to accelerate because they are driven by economic and "cultural" forces, people want to change their culture, sometimes they are in a hurry to loose their cultural heritage. This happens elsewhere on earth but in this region faster than in others. I doubt that there is a solution. In the 80s the military dictatorship in Nigeria decided to ban the imports of cereals and today Nigeria is the first world producer of Cassava, Plantain and Yams.... but who would allow PIC leaders to take such a radical move? Cash crops for exports are the priority in all countries and in most countries the agricultural balance is negative every year. With the limited amount of cash obtained, foods are imported and very little is left for local development. This is now quite an old sorry tale...Post a Comment
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