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?



    Sunday, October 02, 2005

    News about carotenoids in banana and other Pacific crops

    From Dr Lois Englberger.

    I am back from the International Congress of Nutrition, held in Durban, South Africa. It was a great meeting and I learned a lot. While there, I learned about the electronic version of an FAO poster on indigenous foods, which features Karat banana:

    You may recall that Karat is one of the most carotenoid-rich bananas in the world. Provitamin A carotenoids protect against vitamin A deficiency and anemia, and carotenoid-rich foods may also protect against diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Karat is also very rich in riboflavin, vitamin B2, and is likely to be the most riboflavin-rich banana in the world as well! Very few plant foods are rich in riboflavin. The poster does not however give the information on Karat's riboflavin content as it was developed prior to our work in that area of food composition.

    Professor Harriet Kuhnlein and the Centre for Indigenous Peoples' Nutrition and Environment developed the poster. As you see, they have selected seven nutrient-rich indigenous foods from around the world, and presented photos and information about those foods. So it is quite neat that Karat is among those seven!

    My oral presentation was at the main meeting on Tuesday 20 September and was titled "Indigenous Food Resources in the Federated States of Micronesia." A short paper was written for this presentation and that is available for any interested. This is mainly a summary of our work identifying and promoting nutrient-rich foods (such as Karat). Also I presented a poster on Kiribati and Marshall Islands pandanus, which is a product of my work in 2003 and 2004, in collaboration with the various agencies and officers there. The abstract for this is also available, and I can later provide it in the published version for those interested.

    You might note that I also took some dried Karat banana to the meeting in South Africa and showed it to some researchers for the DSM Nutritional Products, based in Switzerland. They were very impressed and one said that in Europe the Karat banana would be considered a "functional food", having special health benefits. Sight and Life and the DSM Nutritional Products laboratory in Switzerland have also been very supportive in helping us find out about the nutrient content of Karat.

    There are several pieces of press coverage on carotenoids provided by the International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain (INIBAP). This is a real breakthrough as carotenoids are not usually mentioned in that primarily agricultural-based organization.

    Through the encouragement of an agriculturalist of a regional Pacific organization, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, I submitted an abstract for the First International Congress on Musa, held in July 2004. That abstract was accepted for an oral presentation, and there was later a lot of press coverage. First, the abstract was published in their abstracts book:
    Englberger L and Lorens A. 2004. Banana cultivars in Micronesia: newly
    recognized sources of provitamin A and total carotenoids and other
    nutrients. Abstract Guide. 1st International Congress on Musa: Harnessing
    research to improve livelihoods, 6-9 July, 2004, Penang, Malaysia. page 241

    Then INIBAP put out a press release on the findings of the Karat banana, and this led to an article in the New Scientist as follows:
    Coghlan A. 2004. Orange banana to boost kids' eyes. New Scientist 10 July 2004. http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99996120

    Following that was a myriad of articles all over the world, many which I could not read because of their being in foreign languages, including Chinese, Hindi, Vietnamese, Italian, but also in the Guardian of the UK and in Die Welt of Germany. Many journalists later wrote me and asked for further photos and information, and one lay magazine later sent me a copy of their issue of "L'actualite" October 2004, where they had the article in French...even giving the information that the Karat banana contains 25 times the beta-carotene content compared to the common banana.

    The INIBAP organizers and scientific writer later wrote this in their InfoMusa Vol 13, No. 2, 2004, in the article "Highlights on the First International congress on Musa" (p 38):

    "Lois Englberger's talk on carotenoid levels in cultivars from Micronesia (see
    INFOMUSA 12(2):2-5) drew a lot of interest, not only from the participants but
    from the media. Her data show that some traditional varieties contain enough
    provitamin A carotenoids at realistic consumption levels to prevent vitamin A
    deficiency (VAD) a major cause of debilitating health problems in developing
    countries and a significant contributor to infant and maternal mortality. Lois
    also pointed out that there are many yellow- and orange-fleshed bananas in other
    countries - such as 'Pisang raja', 'Pisang berangan', 'Nendran' in India and
    'Lakatan' in the Philippines - which could have an impact on eliminating VAD and
    improving general health."

    The abstracts of the oral presentations and posters are available on INIBAP's website at www.inibap.org.

    I am very convinced (and other of my colleagues are too) that there is an immense still unrecognized potential in carotenoid-rich banana varieties throughout the world, and that this could have an immense effect in improving health, not only vitamin A deficiency but in alleviating certain chronic disease problems. Yet, we have not yet been very successful in getting the attention of a funding opportunity for supporting this work, not only of promoting the rare banana varieties already identified as carotenoid-rich, but also of continuing the work in identifying further varieties, and looking into other issues, such as bioavailability of the carotenoids in bananas.

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