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, November 17, 2005

    Vegetables in Fiji

    Clan adds to salad bowl

    By Timothy Naivaluwaqa, Fiji Times (Friday, November 18, 2005)

    THERE is a vegetable garden three kilometres from Sigatoka Town that catches the breath and eye. It is a neat piece of handiwork and skills by members of a clan who learnt the art of gardening or planting from Taiwan experts.

    Not only that, they fuelled it with their commitment and dedication.

    "It was hard work but we were determined to succeed. We worked until we had prepared the garden the way we were taught."

    That is what Serupepeli Nawaqe, turaga ni mataqali Naboka Juanahali of Nayawa in Sigatoka told me when I asked how they transformed a sugarcane field into a beautiful vegetable garden.
    I marvelled at the way they switched to vegetable farming.

    To start, they had only four digging spades and what they had learnt at a two-week course in July. The 12 men returned from the workshop and started planting cucumber, tomatoes, coriander, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, spring onions and capsicum just the way the Taiwanese said. Five months after they broke soil, their vegetable garden has grown to be a model project for the Taiwan technical mission based at Nacocolevu agricultural research station in the Sigatoka Valley.

    The men learnt from the Taiwan experts at Nacocolevu and the results speak for themselves. The Taiwan experts were so impressed by what the clan members achieved that it gave them samples of a hybrid tomato, called Number Two, which grew and produced in the farm.

    What makes this story amazing is that none of the men had been vegetable farmers.

    The 50-year-old said when they were given the chance to learn with the help of the Ministry of Agriculture, they took the challenge as an initiative to generate income and help fellow villagers. They also involved in a project with the Outrigger on the Lagoon Resort on the Coral Coast. So, in a way, Mr Nawaqe and his men are on their way to achieving a dream. He said they brought in more young members of their mataqali to ensure their skills were passed on to the next generation and guarantee the sustainability of vegetable farming.

    "Two of my sons are working in the farm and we are trying to bring in more members of our mataqali.

    "It was hard at the start because it was the first time for all of us but after a lot of hard work, we can now be proud and show our garden to other villagers in the country," he said.

    "Last week, a group of villagers from Serea in Naitasiri were brought to the farm by the Taiwan team to look at our work.

    "They did not believe what they saw.

    "I am proud because we achieved all this without using any machine," said Mr Nawaqe.

    Paying attention to every detail, the vegetable garden will attract the attention of an expert or veteran farmer. The plots are measured and spaced out evenly, that no one would think it was done by hand. Group members who visit the garden daily to check on the growth of the plants, do a little watering while there. It's a clan affair and unique in that they started an initiative by the management of Outrigger on the Lagoon Resort to see that indigenous communities took advantage of the tourism industry.

    It is known as the Olo Olo Farming Project and the aim is to supply top-quality fresh vegetables to nearby hotels. Mr Nawaqe and group were guided by the Outrigger's manager Ilaisa Cavu. They decided to grow vegetables consumed daily by tourists in resorts on the Coral Coast. Now they hope to provide the resorts with a consistent supply of fresh vegetables.

    Mr Cavu said even though mataqali Naboka had attracted attention in Sigatoka, there were plans to extend. He said their commitment to the project was indicated by their decision to reserve 10 acres of their property and lease it for the project's development.

    "They have a 30-year lease on the land and we are working to see the plantation is expanded.

    "The resort is facilitating arrangements to secure funding from the Ministry for Agriculture under its rural assistance scheme so we can install a proper irrigation system," said Mr Cavu.

    He said that while quality was their trademark, another factor they were working to was maintaining a regular supply.

    "They have been harvesting in the past two weeks and we were surprised by the quality," said Mr Cavu.

    "After this, the resort is determined to help them set up a company."

    He said they would plant vegetables which could meet the quality and demand of hotels. He said they hoped to reduce the amount of vegetables which was imported from overseas and substitute them with local quality produce. The hard part for Mr Nawaqe and clan is to maintain the quality of their vegetables.

    The mataqali Naboka Juanahali has done well so far and the future looks bright. They are reaping what they sowed.

    * Comments:

    How does SOPAC in all it's knowledge intend to catapult Fiji's agricultural industry as well guaranteeing trade markets in Europe.

    I hardly ever hear SOPAC voice it's concerns over technology transfers in the agricultural sector from developed nations to South Pacific island nations.
    Too bad, most of these experts ( citizens of Aust/N.Z) are just protecting their home nation's market. On a subtle level.

    It's almost like having a Fox being consulted on security requirements of the hen house.
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    Identifying yams

    Confused about the difference between Dioscorea nummularia and D. rotundata? IRETA published a handy key to yam species by Dr Jill Wilson some years back with financial assistance from USAID's SPRAD project. There is an electronic copy of this publication here on the ADAP website.

    * Comments:

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    Food security on the Weather Coast of Guadalcanal

    Submitted by Moffat Mamu of the Solomon Star on 17 November, 2005.

    ANY attempts to improve the livelihood of people on Weathercoast of Guadalcanal must address food security. This was highlighted in the report for the 2005 Kastom Gaden Association assessment of food security and livelihoods on Guadalcanal’s Weathercoast.

    The report is part of an AusAID funded three and half year programme called “Sustainable Livelihoods for Isolated Rural Areas Project” (SLIRAP). To achieve food security and reduce rural poverty in Weathercoast the project came up with four strategies. They are:
    • diversification of food crop production
    • enhanced management of livestock and existing crops (pests and diseases, planning for food needs, soil fertility
    • strategies for income generation
    • strengthening the enabling environment.
    The report is complied by Kastom Garden Association, TerraCircle development assistance consultants, Secretariat for the Pacific Community (SPC) and AusAID.

    1) Diversification of food crop production

    Diversification of food crop production is recommended following findings that land use is intensifying because of escalating populations and declining fallow period, decreasing soil fertility and increasing pests and diseases.

    The report found that the taro and yams which were once popular in the villagers’ diet have been reduced considerably or lost, since surveys were made 25 years ago. The substitute crops to yam and taro today are cassava, kumara and banana. However, the report highlighted that during the area’s wet season sweet potato provides no useful alternative as it fails to form tubers in water logged soils or the tubers rot. Cassava is grown but suffers from debilitating attacks of scale insect, affecting yield and taste. With these findings the report suggested the introduction of improved varieties of staple food crops from other Pacific Island countries or international agricultural research centres via SPC Regional Germplasm Centre (RGC). It said crops with viruses should be reintroduced after they have been freed from viruses at the SPC RGC while for taro and yam – crops that have been lost due to pests and diseases – collections will be made to replace lost varieties.

    2) Enhanced management of livestock and existing crops (pests and diseases, planning for food needs, soil fertility)

    The second strategy is management of livestock, planning for food production and improvements to existing crops. The report divided it into three parts namely, livestock, family food planning and control of pests and diseases. In livestock, the report found that pigs are critical to livelihoods across the Weathercoast except for Seventh Day Adventist villages. Pigs provide an opportunity to invest and save and for many families it is a means of getting money for school fees. However, many villagers have lost their breeding stock through diseases and the consequence of the ethnic tension. As a result a big problem currently faced by villagers is the increasing threat pigs are to food security. “Pigs threaten food security by destroying food gardens. “In some areas wild pigs are the culprits while at other times free-ranging, domestic pigs are the source of trouble,” the report stated. The report said improved management can avoid such problems and Kastom Gaden Association (KGA) can assist as it has produced a manual in the keeping of pigs. Also, it highlighted the need to investigate ‘cough cough’ disease which is said to be the cause of death for many of the pigs in the area.

    The report highlighted that May to July or April to September is the “time hungry” which brings a sense of insecurity to people. To avoid food shortage during this period the report highlighted the need for families to plan ahead. It said most families in Weathercoast depend on their ability to produce crops for their survival and most of their time is spent in garden production and little goes to planning what might be the best options. As for pests and diseases control the report recommended the need to educate farmers about the diseases, the provision of information on the nature of the diseases and the need to introduce new varieties of crops.

    3) Strategies for income generation

    The third strategy the report highlight on income generation found that the livelihood for Weathercoast farmers would come through investment in the construction of road access to markets in Honiara.

    However, the report said it is unlikely that there would be any improvement in transportation in the near future so the development of light, high value products from existing or new crops would be the most appropriate option to generate income for the people. Some of the ideas raised in the report include, virgin oil, cocoa for chocolate and drink and so on. The report said there is also need to develop local farmers network to pool resources for more efficient marketing to help resolve present problems. It said two new crops will be trialed – they are cardamom and pepper.

    4) Strengthening the enabling environment

    The final strategy is strengthening and enabling the environment. The report said the project will develop links with Guadalcanal Province and the Department of Agriculture and Livestock.
    It will also support the operations of the TCBTC, its partner organisation for project implementation on the Weathercoast. Staff will be financed by the project, trained and helped to develop a business place and students from the centre will provide links to community. It stated that women will be the target group for many of the isolated areas’ activities.

    RAMSI senior development officer and Head of AusAID Catherine Walker told the gathering at the launching ceremony Tuesday, that the two final strategies focused on constraints that would need a lot of effort to overcome.

    “Not only development partners, but Solomon Islands Government as well as the private sector especially those providing shipping services. These are the types of services we need to get back up and running. Not only will they provide economic growth or economic activity but it will boost income generating activities,” Ms Walker said.

    She thanked those who have put the report together – highlighting that the report would indeed add to a stock of knowledge for work in Weathercoast.

    * Comments:

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    Pacific Gardener

    The ACIAR-funded project "Developing tropical horticulture in remote communities: Cape York and Samoa" has a regular newsletter called Pacific Gardner. DPI Queensland and MAF Samoa are the research organisations. The main focus for this project is to improve information availability, access, development and use amongst specific target groups and information providers (particularly within the Samoan MAF). Project target groups in Samoa include commercial growers of taro and export papaya, roadside stallers and processors.

    You can ask to be placed on their mailing list by contacting the Editors:

    Roger Goebel
    Development Horticulturist
    PO Box 20
    South Johnstone Q 4807

    Philip Tuivavalagi
    Project Officer
    Ministry of Agriculture
    PO Box 1874

    * Comments:

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    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    Deforestation around the world

    FAO has a new State of the World’s Forests 2005 report out. It has been much in the news these past few days. Here's one reaction, from Mongabay.com:
    The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations today released
    its assessment of world's forests showing that some 13 million hectares of
    the world’s forests -- an area the size of Panama -- are lost each year. FAO
    claims that forest loss has slowed since the 1990-2000 period, but analysis
    of the numbers shows that FAO is using industrial plantations to offset
    deforestation figures for natural forests. Further, many groups see the FAO
    figures as heavily flawed since they define forest as being an area with as little as 10% actual tree cover and rely on figures provided not by objective third party sources, but by governments that have incentives to manipulate forest cover

    You can find country-by-country analysis of deforestation rates based on the FAO data here). Here's some highlights for Fiji:

    • 44.6% of Fiji's land area is covered with forest according to FAO figures from 2000
    • Fiji lost an average of 2,000 hectares of forest per year between 1990 and 2000
    • Fiji's average annual deforestation rate was 0.2% between 1990 and 2000

    * Comments:

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    Carotenoids in Marshall Islands pandanus

    Englberger L, Aalbersberg W, Schierle J, Marks GC, Fitzgerald MH, Muller F, Jekkein A, Alfred J, Velde NV. 2005. Carotenoid content of different edible pandnaus fruit cultivars of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. In press.


    As Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is a serious problem in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), it is important to identify locally-grown acceptable sources of vitamin A. Pandanus fruit, a traditional Marshallese staple food, has yellow-orange coloration suggesting substantial carotenoid content. However, few of the many Marshallese cultivars were previously analyzed for nutrient content. Thus, this study was conducted in order to identify carotenoid-rich Marshallese pandanus cultivars that could be promoted to alleviate VAD. Ethnography was used to select cultivars and assess acceptability. Thirteen cultivars were analyzed by two laboratories for a- and beta-carotene and other carotenoids using high performance liquid chromatography. The cultivars contained a range of carotenoid levels (21 to 902 mg beta-carotene/100 g), with higher levels in cultivars having deeper yellow-orange colored fruit; 10 cultivars had significant levels meeting estimated vitamin A requirements within normal consumption patterns. There was excellent agreement between the laboratories' results. Pandanus has been increasingly neglected in recent years, but is still well-liked and considered a Marshallese health food. The promotion of carotenoid-rich culturally-acceptable pandanus cultivars could contribute to alleviating vitamin A, micronutrient, and chronic disease problems in the RMI and other Pacific contexts, particularly atoll islands, where pandanus is an important food.

    * Comments:

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    Tuesday, November 15, 2005

    Food leaflets

    An exciting new project of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Lifestyle Health Section led by Wendy Snowdon is now in process. This involves revising five of the SPC Food Leaflets, on taro, breadfruit, coconut, eating and cooking banana (making two separate ones on banana), and developing a new one on pandanus. Although there are 18 Food Leaflets to date, this will be the first time to have a leaflet on pandanus, which is a staple food on many Pacific islands. It is hoped to also develop one on herbs and spices at some time, and later to revise and update the other leaflets.

    The purpose of these leaflets is to present information on these important Pacific Island foods, including nutrition and health and food use information (recipes) as well as plant genetic resources conservation, planting, harvesting, and preserving, in order to help lead to increased production and consumption.

    New findings and research, including those on carotenoid-rich varieties (yellow-fleshed varieties of banana and other foods) have pointed toward the need for this work. Also there is a need to have a material that can be sent electronically and photocopied in-country, in order to decrease high shipping costs that are needed for distributing the present leaflets.

    Dr. Lois Englberger is assisting with the development of the new pandanus leaflet and the revision of the other leaflets by re-writing, incorporating new information, and preparing photographic materials that will be used for the development of new graphic designs.

    CTA (Technical Centre for Rural Agriculture and Co-operation) is providing financial support for this project. The initial drafts are being submitted at the end of November 2005 and it is hoped that the final product will be completed by mid-2006.

    * Comments:

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    The Mand Drama Club and local foods

    From Dr Lois Englberger.

    A group of 20 children led by Mr Rohaizad Suaidi, instructor at the College of Micronesia-FSM, National Campus, entertained at a large community meeting held at the Mand Community Hall. Something is very special about the Mand Drama Club...it is based around the idea of learning about the values of local island food, and making this into a fun activity!

    This last Sunday two groups performed. The twelve younger children, around 10 to 12 years old, did a song and dance skit. They took on roles of different island foods and said who they are. For example, one said "I am taro... and I am full of vitamins!!" In their bright yellow Mand Drama Club t-shirts, with a GO LOCAL theme, the children made a very cute appearance.

    The eight other children performed "conflict scenarios" that they themselves helped to write. Each of these involved a scene between a "parent" and a "child" and reflected some common situations with a problem relating to local foods versus imported foods.

    For example...the first story unfolds with the mother/parent motioning that she is putting out the food to eat on the plate, but this is local food, and there is a bit of an outcry from the child....with the following lines:

    Child: Where is the rice?
    Parent: Today we are having taro.
    Child: But I want rice.
    Parent: You had rice yesterday.
    Child: I like rice, I want to eat rice everyday!!!
    Parent: We have many kinds of local food. Why do you want to eat only rice?

    ....then the story goes on, with the children deciding how the drama should go forward and end...So you will need to ask for a performance from the children, then you will find out what happened in the end!!

    One of the Mand adults later said, "Oh we really liked that! It was really good!"
    Thanks go to the New Zealand AID for their support in this project, as well as the Centre for Indigenous Peoples' Nutrition and Environment. Special thanks go to Rohaizad who has been working with the children on Sunday afternoons since the beginning of September. He has much talent and experience in guiding drama activities and IFCP appreciates very much his involvement.

    Thanks to Kiped Albert, Douglas Nelber, and Yumiko Paul who assisted Rohaizad and of course thanks to the children for their enthusiastic involvement. Also, thank you Jim Currie, for putting forth the idea for IFCP to have a village theater type activity for promoting island foods.

    Dr. Lois Englberger, PhD
    Island Food Community of Pohnpei
    Research Advisor
    P. O. Box 2299
    Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941 FM
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Telephone: 691-320-8639 Fax: 691-320-4647
    Website: http://www.islandfood.org

    * Comments:

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    Monday, November 14, 2005

    Kava in Vanuatu
    Originally uploaded by luigig.
    The national drink of Vanuatu...

    * Comments:

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    Sunday, November 13, 2005

    PAPGREN Meeting

    The annual meeting of PAPGREN focal points around the region took place 26-29 October. The objectives of this year’s meeting, which was held in Luganville on Santo in order to be able to visit VARTC and was organized locally by Mr Frazer Bule with the assistance of Ms Reapi Masau (our thanks to both of them!), were to:
    1. Update PAPGREN members on recent national, regional and international PGR activities and prioritize planned new activities
    2. Brief PAPGREN members on the ITPGRFA and the recent SMTA negotiations
    3. Finalize a draft Pacific PGR strategy for submission to the Global Crop Diversity Trust

    This marks the first time that a representative from New Caledonia has come to the network meeting, and there were a number of new faces from Fiji, Tonga and indeed Vanuatu. The meeting was kindly opened by Ms Dorosday Kenneth, who also participated in the whole of the first day’s discussions before having to return to Port Vila.

    In addition to reviewing country plans and activities, there was interesting discussion of a number of specific topics put forward by participants during the planning phase, including:

    1. atoll PGR
    2. value adding for conservation (including briefing on the recent BAPNET meeting)
    3. seed conservation
    4. various novel approaches to training

    We are preparing a formal report on the meeting which will summarize the discussion and set out various recommendations in these areas. We also managed to go over the draft Material Transfer Agreement of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Reosurces for Food and Agriculture in some detail, and spent almost a day reviewing the draft regional strategy we have been working on for the past year or so for the Global Crop Diversity Trust. Based on this input, we should be able to present the strategy to the Trust before the end of the year.

    We organized a very brief side meeting with COGENT members to obtain further input to the annual regional report, including suggestions for “designated germplasm” from each country to be included in the regional collection in PNG. The process for nominating the region’s representative to the COGENT Steering Committee was also discussed.

    The field trip took us to VARTC, where we saw the genebanks of coconut, cacao, coffee, kava, breadfruit and root crops. We were also able to see at first hand the root crops breeding work and some of the activities of the Root Crops Agrobiodiversity Project in Vanuatu (http://agrobiodiversite.org) funded by FFEM (Fonds Français pour l’Environnement Mondial), MQAFF and CIRAD (a description of this project is appended). The lead researcher is Dr Roger Malapa, who has just recently come back from France after finishing his doctorate on yam cytogenetic and genetic diversity.

    * Comments:

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    Cooks noni industry in trouble?

    By Ulamila Kurai-Marrie of Cook Islands News via Pacific Islands Report.

    RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Nov. 10) – The Cook Islands nono industry has taken a drastic dive forcing local growers and exporters to resort to a collective regional effort to save their livelihood.

    Major local exporter Cook Islands Noni Marketing Limited's Teava Iro yesterday revealed that producers from Asia have undercut prices by flooding the international markets with cheap nono products.

    [PIR editor’s note: Nono, also known as Noni in other parts of the Pacific, is a green, knotty tropical fruit is about the size of a potato prized by ancient Polynesians for its medicinal value.]

    Some months ago, Iro's company was exporting an average of 25,000 litres of nono juice a month but this took a downward turn to as little as 8,000 litres last month.

    The selling price from his Titikaveka factory was NZ$4.50 a litre during the heyday but dropped to 80 cents to meet the Asian market price.

    "Our business had gained strength since we started and this has been a very sudden decline," he said.

    And yesterday Iro said they might have to further lower their price to 50 cents a litre in order to regain the markets.

    Iro is not sitting on his laurels to await any help. His company has helped organise a public meeting today at the Kent Hall with other growers to discuss the slump and design strategies.

    "But I am also going to attend the regional nono growers meeting in Fiji next month to ask for a regional effort to maintain the industry," he said. "We do not have the turnover like the Asian markets and some regional markets that have cheap labour are selling at lower prices, too. So we want to push as one body from the region and lock markets and get everyone to benefit."

    Cook Island growers have been getting between 70 cents to 90 cents a kilo for their fruit, whereas growers in Samoa and Fiji are getting about 15 cents a kilo.

    These regional competitors have at their disposal a much cheaper labour force that results in lower overheads.

    Another nono exporter, Ake Utanga, whose company Kia Orana Natural Products Limited sold frozen fruits to Europe and New Zealand, is no longer in business. Her buyers in Switzerland informed her last month to put on hold any further shipment since "all pending orders have been cancelled by our customers ... noni market here is not looking good".

    The Swiss firm specialises in providing unfermented, pasteurised noni juice called 'green noni' as a novel food ingredient, to be used in pasteurised fruit drinks.

    The firm's chief executive officer, Gary Martin, told Utanga that the issue is not about quality but rather "the lack of interest in noni as a whole".

    Martin said that a meeting he attended in Germany last month where stories told were universal- "product is not selling and everyone is seeing a decline in sales". While Utanga has come to a complete standstill, Iro has not let go any of his workers.

    * Comments:

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    Mangroves around the World

    There's been a lot in the news recently about how mangroves provided a degree of protection from the Southeast Asian tsunami. Problem is, an FAO study says that 20% of mangrove forests worldwide has disappeared since 1980. You can find out about this trend on a country by country basis by going to this FAO website. For example, here's the data for Fiji, which suggests a decrease from over 50,000 ha in 1969 to about 42,000 ha in 1991 to an estimated 37,000 ha in 2000. FAO also has an online World Atlas of Mangroves in collaboration with UNEP-WCMC, which provides distribution maps, species lists, and estimates of current area and trends.

    To help ensure that the revised Atlas contains the most accurate and comprehensive information available on mangroves, FAO is soliciting input. You can play a role by reviewing the information provided on this website and by filling in a short questionnaire. Click here to download the general form, or request the specific country profile and questionnaire for your country from:

    Ms. Serena Fortuna
    Global Forest Resources Assessment Programme
    Forest Resources Division
    FAO Forestry Department
    Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
    Rome 00100

    Fax: +3906-5705-5137
    E-mail: serena.fortuna@fao.org

    * Comments:

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    Thursday, November 10, 2005

    Coconut Forum

    From UQ News Online.

    An international coconut forum in Cairns later this month will explore the potential of coconut oil as “biofuel” for isolated South Pacific islands and seek commercial backing to establish a tourist theme park. The forum will bring together specialists from research directors, managers of international agencies, entrepreneurs dealing with product development in Australia, and small business “denutters” who harvest palms in north Queensland cities and market the fresh fruit.
    University of Queensland researchers Dr Yohannes Samosir and Associate Professor Steve Adkins will take part in the forum, to be held from November 22 to 24 in Cairns. Dr Samosir and Associate Professor Adkins from UQ's School of Land and Food Sciences are researching coconut tissue culture with funding from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). Dr Samosir will speak on Australia's involvement in coconut research and development, and discuss the possibility of developing a Coconut World theme park in Queensland.
    The Federal Government has supported research into the sustainability of coconut production, survey and evaluation of genetic material particularly in the South Pacific. The forum is also expected to discuss current developments in coconut production, virgin coconut oil, and consider the future for coconut oil as biofuel in the isolated outposts of the South Pacific.
    Sponsors include ACIAR, AusAID, Asia Pacific Coconut Community (APCC), Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Coconet, and Kokonut Pacific Pty Ltd, and CSIRO Fellow Mike Foale.
    For further information, contact Dr. Yohannes Samosir on + 61 7 3365 9750, email mailto:y.samosir@uq.edu.au

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    Veggie-e-Gram Newsletter

    Hector Valenzuela (hector@hawaii.edu), Vegetable Crops State Extension Specialist at Univ. Hawaii at Manoa, CTAHR puts out a regular newsletter on horticultural issues. This is what he says:

    Become a contributor for this newsletter. As travel budgets have been cut down, it's important to stay abreast of the horticulture industry in Hawaii and the Pacific Region. Let us know what is going on around your production area. Any new marketing opportunities? Any new pest outbreaks? Any new products out there with potential for pest control or for nutrient management?


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    Cooking Contest Promotes Breadfruit

    From Diane Ragone of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens and the Breadfruit Institute in Hawaii.

    The Breadfruit Institute and Kahanu Garden of the National Tropical Botanical Garden held the 4th Breadfruit Cookoff on October 13 in Hana, Maui. First held in 1990, the cookoff became an annual event in 2003. This popular community program is now a tasty part of the Aloha Festivals, a statewide celebration of Hawai'i's culture, music, dance and history. The cookoff is held to encourage the creative use of breadfruit as a food, involve the local community, and most important, to popularize breadfruit and encourage islanders to grow and use this nutritious and versatile staple food in their daily diet.

    Kahanu Garden maintains more than 120 breadfruit varieties in its field genebank. These provide a diverse array of flavors, textures, and cooking qualitities for culinary experimentation. Fresh fruits from selected varieties in the collection are provided to cookoff participants. This year, 25 dishes were created in four categories: soups and salads, appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. The five judges have the delectable task of tasting and assessing each dish for flavor, appearance, and creativity. Judging is a popular assignment; and this year the judges included a retired chef, a Hana resident, the head of a local cultural group, and the Director of Kahanu Garden.

    1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons are given in each category and a grand prize is given for the most outstanding dish. The most original dish is also awarded a prize. Local businesses and individuals support the contest by contributing cash, t-shirts, handicrafts, and services. All of the winners receive a cash prize and a donated gift. The Grand Prize Winner was treated to a 2-night stay at one of Maui’s resort hotels for her award-winning ‘ulu seafood chowder.

    The contest is gaining popularity each year and the contestants work hard to create delicious award-winning recipes. The competition and recognition inspire the participants to prepare breadfruit in new and creative ways. Fruits are used at all stages of maturity, from small and immature—about the size of a golf ball—to starchy mature to soft and ripe. A sampling of dishes created for the ‘ulu cookoff includes spring rolls, wontons, chowder, stew, fritters, doughnuts, ‘ulu bread, fruit salad, tuna patties, corn beef hash, ‘ulu shrimp cakes, ice cream, and much more. We now have more than 100 recipes utilizing breadfruit.

    These delectable dishes demonstrate that breadfruit can be the centerpiece of island meals in myriad forms. It can be much more than just a starchy staple served baked or boiled. Why use imported white potatoes or pasta when breadfruit is available? The ubiquitous mayonnaise-macaroni salad is easily made with breadfruit (and is more flavorful). Restaurants and food vendors can incorporate breadfruit into various dishes on their menus, from soups to desserts. Many visitors to the islands want to try local foods, so give them a taste of breadfruit in a familiar dish, and support local farmers and crop diversity.

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    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    New UN agricultural census

    From the UN's website. Would be interesting to know which PICTs will be involved.

    8 November 2005 – More than 100 countries are taking part in United Nations agricultural censuses over the next 10 years as part of the overall effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that seek to slash a host of ills, ranging from extreme poverty and hunger to lack of education and health care, all by 2015.

    In addition to collecting the conventional structural data at farm level, the censuses now gather socio-economic data at the community or village level, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO), the organizing agency, said today.

    “Examples of community-level data under consideration are: whether the community is prone to natural disasters, the availability of services such as roads, electricity, health facilities and schools,” FAO Surveys and Statistical Development Service Chief Hiek Som explained.
    “Markets and agricultural input suppliers, as well as the existence of farmers organizations, are also considered,” he added.

    In the effort to achieve the eight MDGs, accurate and updated data will help explain how changes in the agricultural sector affect household food security. This will provide indications on progress towards meeting the first MDG of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger.

    Data will help planners better understand the reasons for low school enrolment, especially in rural areas, as part of the second MDG which calls for primary education for all.

    Figures on the role of women in agriculture and the participation of rural women in non-farm economic activities can reveal social and cultural patterns, helping to attain the third MDG, which calls for gender equality and empowerment of women.

    Data on irrigation, soil degradation, use of mineral fertilizers and pesticides and forests will help governments keep a close watch on environmental issues, part of the seventh MDG, which calls for environmental sustainability.

    In addition to community-level data, included for the first time are items such as soil degradation, irrigation by crop type, method and sources of irrigation, agricultural practices and services, demographic and social characteristics, household food security, type of aquaculture site and agro-forestry.

    The new round of agricultural censuses is the ninth in a decennial programme, begun in 1930.

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    Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    Forestry in the Solomon Islands

    HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Nov. 7) – The Government lost an estimated SB$29,930,324 (US$4.1 million) in logging revenue last year as a result of duty exemptions, an audit of the Forestry Department has uncovered. Auditor General Augustine Fatai says the loss represented a significant increase from 2003. He says in his report, presented to the Speaker of Parliament, Friday, that the administration and management of timber duty exemptions lack transparency and accountability. “Lack of proper forestry and accounting records - reconstructed records indicate significant arrears of timber royalty payments were due but not collected,” Fatai said in the report. “There were continuous breaches of agreement by logging companies but there has been a lack of action by the Department of Forestry, Environment and Conservation in relation to these breaches.” Among irregularities noted were “unlawful ex-gratia payments, unaccounted for advances made to individuals from logging c ompanies, and timber royalty payments diverted to private accounts.”

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    Monday, November 07, 2005

    Digital audio in Papua New Guinea

    In the latest issue of CTA's ICT Update, Micael Olsson describe how digital audio technology helps to promote traditional culture as the basis for forest resource management.

    "In the Managalas plateau, in Papua New Guinea, the Rainforest Literacy Project (RLP) is using a combination of broadcast radio and digital audio technology to reach families and village groups using formats that entertain as they inform and educate on forest resource management issues.

    Indigenous groups like the Managalas still rely on the forest and its products for food, medicines and building materials. Even though the Managalas own their land, the growing population and expanding cash economy are gradually absorbing land traditionally reserved for forests and their by-products. The RLP seeks to raise awareness about the slow eradication of the resource base upon which the Managalas depend, and to build a consensus on a more balanced approach to address subsistence farming, cash cropping and the need for forest management."

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    Sunday, November 06, 2005

    Downstreaming the coconut in PNG

    SENIORL ANZU of NARI profiles Peter Linibi, a Morobe village farmer who gets the most out of coconuts. From The National.

    COCONUTS have been used in Papua New Guinea for eating and cooking for ages.

    The tender nuts, “kulaus,” provide refreshing healthy drinks while mature nuts or “drai” when scraped, its juice squeezed over food enhances its flavour.

    But an innovative farmer from Morobe’s Markham Valley says that the mature nuts can give village households so much more.Peter Linibi, a model farmer from Mutzin in the Umi-Atzera area said mature nuts can be processed into a number of essential and economic products such as kerosene, cooking oil and soap. He said people must be taught the skills and techniques in simple downstream processing for basic household goods.

    Peter produces these goods to support his family and also trains farmers to make home-made products from mature coconuts.

    He does this through a contractual arrangement with Lae’s Support Services Contract Facility (SSCF), funded by the Asian Development Bank.

    “I do basics in downstream processing of coconut. I do kerosene, cooking oil, soap and others. I also help the village people to make theirs,” Mr Linibi said. He said to make kerosene, mature nuts are grated into silts and dried in the sun for about two hours. The silts are then pressed in an oil press and the oil extracted can be used in a lamp.

    Mr Linibi said: “You get the oil and use it directly - simple as that. You do not need to add anything else, the pure coconut oil is okay for burning, and burns like those from the store.”

    To get cooking oil, the extracted oil is kept overnight. This allows the residue to sink to the bottom. The deodorised oil is then mixed with water, 50% of water to oil. The mixture is then boiled slowly to allow the water to evaporate and you have nice clean oil for cooking. This again does not need preservatives.For soap, the pressed silt is mixed with costic soda and rainwater. This soap can be used for laundry, both in freshwater and seawater.

    The residue is also useful. “We turn the residue into coconut cakes, coconut biscuits, pan cakes, cookies and candies - with the addition of flour and some baking or frying with coconut oil.

    Stockfeed is another valuable product derived from the residue,” Mr Linibi said. Oil press, the machine used to press coconut silts to extract oil is built and sold by Project Support Services priced between K750 to K1000. Mr Linibi said he uses simple methods of grating, squizzing and mixing to demonstrate to village people who cannot afford a manufactured oil press. Once a policemen, Linibi says he has no regrets about quitting his job to return to the village with his wife, also a former public servant, to work with farmers and serve the community.

    What they enjoy most is to see rural farmers become innovative and self-reliant. Maria has been engaged in other SSCF projects to train farmers on various agricultural activities. Together they have passed a wealth of knowledge and skills to many farmers in the country. Mr Linibi has trained well over 200 farmers on downstream processing of coconut in Morobe, Sandaun and Western Highlands provinces. He has also put on a lot of displays and demonstrations to promote coconut based products in many shows and field days. Recently, he was invited to display some of them at the Cocoa Coconut Institute’s (CCI) Field Day in Madang. With the current price hikes on kerosene and fuel villagers need cheaper alternatives for domestic use and downstream processing of the coconut is the way to go.Mr Linibi is encouraging families to uphold this activity. They use the what they need and sell the surplus to earn an income.

    Mr Linibi said there is a big demand for coconut oil overseas with requests coming from as far as the Netherlands, Germany, Australia and the United States.

    He said the emphasis now is to train local people who own plantations to realise the importance of these products (coconut oil), adopt the technology and tap into export market potentials.

    Given that copra prices are currently not attractive, people with coconut plantations have this alternative which can improve village livelihoods in many ways. The Linibis are model farmers fairly known in the agriculture sector in PNG and abroad. They represent smallholder farmers in various collaborative initiatives in research and extension. Some of the organisations they work with include SSCF, CCI, the National Agricultural Research Institute, the Department of Agriculture and Livestock and the Fresh Produce Development Agency.

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    New protected areas for Papua New Guinea

    The WWF website noted on 25 October that "the government of Papua New Guinea announced today that it will gazette 12 new protected areas covering some of the country’s most biologically diverse forests, wetlands and coral reefs. The proposed protected areas are in Madang, the Sepik River, Mount Bosavi (Southern Highlands and Western Provinces), and the TransFly (Western Province), which together will add a further 771,451 ha to Papua New Guinea’s protected area system — an increase of almost 50 per cent."

    The 12 protected areas include:
    1. Madang Lagoon (estimated to contain 700 species of coral and over 1,000 species of reef fishes — as many as the Great Barrier Reef in a fraction of the area)
    2. Mount Bosavi and the Kikori River Basin (part of a unique landscape of extinct volcanoes, limestone gorges, and rainforests)
    3. Sepik River Basin (perhaps the largest unpolluted river in the Asia Pacific region and home to one of the world’s largest crocodile populations)
    4. TransFly ecoregion (home to important migratory bird sites and some of the region’s largest and healthiest wetlands)

    The event marking the protected area announcement was organized by the Papua New Guinea Department of Environment and Conservation, with support from WWF Papua New Guinea. The following local organizations were recognized: Ambunti District Council of Women, Aquaventures Pty Ltd (dive operators), Bauabaua Theatre Company, HELP Resources, Kosua Orogo Resource Owners Association, New Guinea Binatang Research Centre, Oil Search Pty Ltd, PNG Forest Authority and Wetlands International.

    For more information:

    Ashwini Prahba, Communications Coordinator, WWF South Pacific Programme, email: aprabha@wwfpacific.org.fj

    Paul Chatterton, Conservation Manager, WWF Papua New Guinea, email: pchat@wwfpacific.org.pg

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    Breadfruit in Hawaii

    An article in the Honolulu Advertiser discusses recent archaelogical discoveries in Hawaii that are changing some ideas about early Islanders. For example, ancient Hawaiians were apparently not known for eating much breadfruit, but the discovery of breadfruit wood in fireplaces "may suggest an agricultural system that hasn't been discussed before."

    There's also a photo of an area in the Windward uplands called Luluku that showed evidence of an early concentration of population, and where the largest remaining set of irrigated taro terraces on O'ahu can be found.

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    Pacific regional organizations promote taxonomy for conservation and sustainable development

    The Secretariat for the Pacific Community (SPC), the University of the South Pacific (USP) and the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) formally established a regional PACINET taxonomic support program in the year 2000. More recently, further cooperation among these regional institutions secured funding to establish a dedicated programme coordinator position that will considerably speed up delivery of PACINET's objectives.

    PACINET is part of BioNET, the global network for taxonomy, and its objectives are to promote awareness of the importance of taxonomy to tackling conservation and sustainable development priorities in the Pacific. PACINET is thus part of a worldwide network of people and institutions dedicated to pooling, sharing and enhancing the world's taxonomic resources.

    PACINET will operate like other BioNET-International regional networks (e.g. ASEANET and SACNET) in having a steering committee made up of Locally Organised and Operated Partnerships (LOOP).

    PACINET will focus on increasing taxonomic capacity in the region and also providing coordinated access to existing taxonomic information. In the near future the program also hopes to facilitate and strengthen links between modern (scientific) taxonomy and local (vernacular or traditional) taxonomy as a foundation for improving the conservation, sustainable use and equitable sharing of the benefits of biodiversity in the Pacific region.

    Last month a former student of USP, Gilianne Brodie, took up the PACINET Coordinator position, based in Fiji. Although a SPC staff member, Gilianne will be hosted and based at USP, within the Institute of Applied Sciences. With a PhD in systematics, Gilianne is no stranger to the challenges of taxonomy and its fundamental importance to high profile global issues such as pest management, quarantine and the sustainabile conservation and use of biodiversity. Gilianne comes to this position from James Cook University in northern Australia, where she has been heavily involved with teaching and research on invertebrates, and the management of natural resources in tropical Australian coastal communities.

    If you would like to know more about BioNET-PACINET, or discuss possible program linkages please feel welcome to contact Gilianne Brodie via IAS on 3232876 or by email at brodie_g@usp.ac.fj.

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    On-Farm Conservation in PNG

    The following is the abstract of a study by Ms Anna Apa, Plant Genetic Resources Cadet at the NARI Dry-Lowlands Programme, Laloki, PNG. Many thanks to Rosa Kambuou for sending it. I can forward the full report to anyone who is interested.

    A survey was conducted at Pinu village in the central province to collect baseline information on the diversity of food crops maintained by farmers and also to find out how much diversity has already been lost. The survey was the first part of an In-situ on-farm conservation project, which will continue over a period of five years. The farmers traditionally have a yam and banana based farming system, however cassava is now becoming a dominant staple food crop in the area. More than 50 percent of the farmers interviewed have indicated that they have lost some of the traditional cultivars of their main staple food crops. The women who mostly grow yams have indicated that they now maintain less than 5 cultivars of yams. Similarly the men who traditionally grow bananas have stated also that they only maintain less than 10 cultivars of the perennial “kalapua ABB” type and the “diploid AA” types of bananas unlike in the past. Genetic erosion has been acknowledged as a concern by older generations but the younger farmers see it as an inevitable trend in income-driven semi-commercial food production.

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    Saturday, November 05, 2005

    Vanuatu coconut to fight disease in Ghana

    From Port Vila Presse Online.

    By GNAPosted Tuesday, August 9, 2005

    Ghana: About 11,000 hectares of coconut farms have been devastated by the Cape St. Paul Wilt disease, bringing economic hardships to about 10,000 households, mainly in coastal communities. The disease, which was first discovered in Ghana in 1932, had defied all attempts at control.

    The Oil Palm Research Institute (OPRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) at Kusi in the Eastern Region had, in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), identified a tolerant coconut variety that had led to the launching of a rehabilitation project for the coconut industry.

    A spokesman for the OPRI at Kusi in the Kwaebibrim District praised the French government for funding research and development effort towards solving the problems of the coconut industry. He said the French government recently made available an amount of 1,290,000 Euros to support agronomical research including the coconut sector.

    ''With the development of the disease-tolerant coconut hybrids, the industry is being given a new lease of life.'' Farms are being replanted at the rate of 400 hectares a year with the new variety the Coconut Sector Development Programme is supplying. It is projected that by 2007, at least 1,000 hectares a year of the disease-devastated farms would have been replanted. In addition, the spokesman said, the OPRI has been giving technical support to the Coconut Sector Development Project to rehabilitate the coconut industry.

    The OPRI has devised a modified controlled pollination system for the production of Vanuatu, a tall seed-nut that is a key variety in the development of the tolerant type for planting. It has set up a pollinator garden to produce the coconut pollen requirements of the country with effect from 2006 to save the over 40,000 dollars per year in pollen imports.

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    Knowledge and expertise of ni-Vanuatu food processor draws interest in Solomons

    From Port Vila Presse Online.

    By Compiled by Evelyne ToaPosted Tuesday, November 1, 2005

    The owner of the famous Kava Store, Charles Long Wah, first kava exporter in Vanuatu, assisted Solomons people to turn a new page in the field of food processing during a recent training workshop in Honiara.

    In the Solomon Star newspaper, Mr Long Wah explained "When we say food processing and value adding, it means that from our raw produce, for example pineapple, we can sell it at $10 at the market, but when we process it into pineapple jam, we can sell the jam for $12 to $15 which means we are adding value when we process this raw product (pineapple) into something else – another product."

    "We can also dry the fruits and preserve them to be used later during their off-season or during times of disaster.

    And according to food processor Long Wah, "you don't have to be well educated to process food and add value to it. It is just the matter of knowing the method and the instructions."

    Mr Long Wah is part of a team-led by the University of South Pacific's Institute for Research Extension and Training in Agriculture (IRETA), director Mohammed Umar, who ran a week-long training session last week for participants around the South Pacific region including Solomon Islanders in Honiara.

    The training workshop for members of the public, was officially opened by the Solomons minister of agriculture and livestock, Enele Kwanairara with about 20 participants, most of whom knew nothing about food processing and value adding.

    However, when Solomon Star visited the participants on the first day, on the table were their displays of pawpaw jam, mango pickles, dried banana, chilli pickles, pineapple syrup and candies made from coconut, peanuts, and terminalia, ngali nuts.

    These items were made by the participants throughout the week, and instead of the usual 20 participants they found that the number had increased as interested locals and Pacific islanders from Honiara joined during the week.

    Director Umar said he was pleased with the turnout of participants because the idea behind such training was to encourage locals to venture into such business opportunities.

    "My team is here only to provide training. It is up to the women and men participating to decide whether or not they will continue producing what they have learned", Umar stated.

    And for most of the participants, continuing is what they will be doing.One, Eghi Carter said she would ensure she continues making jam, pickles, candies and such things.

    "After this workshop I will make more of these local crops, sitting with my products in the market and selling them to passers-by, to know if there is a healthy market for what I make," Eghi Carter said.

    For other participants, too, the training was immensely helpful. Lensa Magiza excitedly went into detail as to how from 12 paw paws bought from the central market she would make about 31 jars of pawpaw jam. "In the shops we find these jams are selling for about $18, but for us, if we sell them at that price or cheaper, we can still make a good profit," Magiza stated.

    A Samoan participant Fuapepe Rimoni, who is working under the Ministry of Agriculture in Samoa, stated that her mission after the completion of the workshop would be writing a report and visiting non government organisations, women's groups and church groups to teach them skills she learned from Charlot and the workshop. "It will be interesting to see what others can come up with after training in food processing and value adding," Rimoni said.

    However, Long Wah said they must not think about export. If there is a demand in the local market and you can keep up with it, only then you can start thinking of exporting your products, but not now." Long Wah is one of the leading producers of kava in Vanuatu together with about 75 other local Vanuatu products. "But I am still trying to keep up with the demand in the local market," the food expert said.

    "This means more training at the local level and also with more processed products involved.

    We will be supplying growers with information on how to make their expected products and give information on basic hygiene and capacity building has to happen at the local level," Uman said. At the same time, there has to be funding to start locals off.

    "It should not be a one off thing but something which the private sector such as NGO's and women's groups and so on, can continue with because there are lots of crops to be processed and I'm not talking only for Solomon islands but the Pacific," the director said.

    Long Wah was feted in song and dance after his workshop, and is looking forward to more workshops in the coming weeks and months in Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands.

    He leaves this weekend for a week in Australia before going next week to Amsterdam in Nertherlands.

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    Friday, November 04, 2005

    Making Money From Food

    by Amy Levendusky, Kaselehlie Press Health Corner, Pohnpei

    Three exciting days of workshops for individuals wanting to start theirown business and business owners looking to expand their food product line were invited to attend a series of food processing workshops held in Kolonia on the 10th, 11th, and 13th of October. These workshops were sponsored by the Island Food Community of Pohnpei (IFCP), which brought in a consultant, Dr. Richard Beyer, food scientist based in Fiji, to share his wealth of knowledge and experience on the subject of food processing. Dr. Beyer visited Pohnpei from October 3rd through October 16th.

    While in Pohnpei, Dr. Beyer visited government officials to discuss howthe government could support local entrepreneurs in the food processingindustry. Dr. Beyer also met with local entrepreneurs on an individualbasis to assist them in developing and marketing new products usinglocal foods. "Everything that can be bought in your supermarkets, we can make using your own local foods and we can do all this at a low cost", Dr. Beyer explained in his workshops.

    Dr. Beyer emphasized that we should not have to rely on imported goodswhen all the food we need is right here in front of us. The topics of food handling, food safety, product development, recipe formulations,marketing, and making a profit were all covered in the workshops.

    Delicious, new products using local foods were made during the course of these workshops including breadfruit tuna patties, breadfruit cheese patties, lime (karertik) marmalade, banana syrup, pickled cucumbers, and fried snacks in an assortment of fun shapes made out of giant swamp taro (mwahng) and breadfruit. The workshops were held at Condon Hall and at the Mercedes Hall with an average of 25 people in attendance each day.

    At the end of the workshop, participants decided which products theywere going to work on developing over the next few months. They alsorequested to meet once a month with IFCP while they are developing their food products in case there is a need for further assistance. Dr. Beyer plans to return to Pohnpei if there is significant progress made by individuals or local businesses in the processing and selling at a profit of local food products.

    Sincere thanks are extended to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for providing the consultancy by the food scientist Dr. Richard Beyer and financial support for this workshop.

    IFCP would also like to thank Dr. Beyer for visiting Pohnpei and working with members of the community to promote local food processing and all the people who participated and worked with Dr. Beyer during his stay on Pohnpei.

    Dr. Lois Englberger, PhD
    Island Food Community of Pohnpei
    Research Advisor
    P. O. Box 2299
    Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941 FM
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Telephone: 691-320-8639 Fax: 691-320-4647
    Website: http://www.islandfood.org

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    Thursday, November 03, 2005

    Karat is Proclaimed the State Banana of Pohnpei

    From Lois Englberger: We would like to share with you that Karat has been officially proclaimed as the State Banana of Pohnpei! This is a unique way to promote a very unique banana, rich in carotenoids and offering potential health benefits. Here below is the article that will be coming out in the next Kaselehlie Press newspaper.

    An exciting part of the 2005 World Food Day in Pohnpei was the Proclamation of Governor Johnny P. David, setting forth Karat as the Pohnpei State Banana!

    The purpose of this proclamation is for awareness, and to help support activities for increasing the production and use of Karat.

    The idea for this came from Wehns Billen at the strategy planning session of the Island Food Community of Pohnpei in April 2004. As he said, "Other places have state flowers and state birds, why not Pohnpei have its own state banana?"

    Excerpts of the proclamation included this:

    WHEREAS, scientific research has been conducted on Pohnpei since the year
    1998 to catologue and study the nutritional contents, value and types of bananas grown on the island, and

    WHEREAS, such study has revealed the banana popularly called Karat in Pohnpei to be a valuable source of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, and other essential nutrients that are important for good health, and,

    WHEREAS, a commemorative stamp series of Karat was issued by the FSM Postal Series on October 16, 2005, to coincide with World Food Day,

    BE IT RESOLVED that …..Karat be known as the state banana of Pohnpei.
    Proclaimed this 19th day of October, 2005.

    Johnny P. David, Governor, State of Pohnpei

    Dr. Lois Englberger, PhD
    Island Food Community of Pohnpei
    Research Advisor
    P. O. Box 2299
    Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941 FM
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Telephone: 691-320-8639 Fax: 691-320-4647
    Website: http://www.islandfood.org

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    Sandalwood in New Caledonia

    From Jacques Tassin, IAC, New Caledonia.

    Genetic diversity and population structure of an insular tree, Santalum austrocaledonicum, in New Caledonian archipelago

    Molecular Ecology (2005) 14, 1979–1989

    L. Bottin *
    D. Verhaegen *
    J. Tassin *†
    I. Olivieri ‡
    A. Vaillant *
    and J . M. Bouvet *

    * CIRAD, Département Forêt, Unité de Recherche ‘Diversité Génétique et Amélioration des Espèces Forestières’, campus de Baillarguet TA 10C, 34398, Montpellier cedex 5, France
    † IAC, Institut Agronomique Néo-Calédonien B.P. 73, 98890, Païta, Nouvelle-Calédonie
    ‡ Université Montpellier 2, cc065, Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution de Montpellier, Place Eugène Bataillon, 34095 Montpellier cedex 05, France

    Abstract : We present a study of the genetic diversity and structure of a tropical tree in an insular system. Santalum austrocaledonicum is endemic to the archipelago of New Caledonia and is exploited for oil extraction from heartwood. A total of 431 individuals over 17 populations were analysed for eight polymorphic microsatellite loci. The number of alleles per locus ranged from 3 to 33 and the observed heterozygosity per population ranged from 0.01 in Maré to 0.74 in Ile des Pins. The genetic diversity was lowest in the most recent islands, the Loyautés, and highest in the oldest island, Grande Terre, as well as the nearby small Ile des Pins. Significant departures from panmixia were observed for some loci–population combinations (per population FIS= 0–0.03 on Grande-Terre and Ile des Pins, and 0–0.67 on Loyautés). A strong genetic differentiation among all islands was observed (FST= 0.22), and the amount of differentiation increased with geographic distance in Iles Loyauté and in Grande Terre. At both population and island levels, island age and isolation seem to be the main factors influencing the amount of genetic diversity. In particular, populations from recent islands had large average FIS that could not be entirely explained by null alleles or a Wahlund effect. This result suggests that, at least in some populations, selfing occurred extensively. Conclusively, our results indicate a strong influence of insularity on the genetic diversity and structure of
    Santalum austrocaledonicum.

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    Center for Conservation of Vegetatively Propagated Plants in Belgium

    From CropBiotech Update.

    Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (K.U. Leuven) in Flanders, Belgium has been established as the Global Centre of Excellence on Plant Cryobiology. It will be involved in the long-term conservation of vegetatively propagated plants. This was agreed upon by the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) and K.U. Leuven on 18 October 2005 to commemorate World Food Day. Conservation efforts will include tropical staples such as banana, taro and cassava.

    “This is a significant step forward in our efforts to conserve agricultural diversity,” said Emile Frison, Director General of IPGRI. “The point, however, is not simply conservation. Breeders and farmers need the conserved material to adapt crops to meet challenges such as new pests and diseases.”

    Read more on K.U.Leuven at http://www.kuleuven.ac.be/english. IPGRI's release on the global center of excellence is at http://www.ipgri.cgiar.org/system/page.asp?frame=institute/&pawareness.htm.

    * Comments:

    These links do not lead to further information about this particular project. I couldnt find any more info on IPGRI's site/
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    Yam chemical composition

    Physico-chemical characterisation of yam (Dioscorea alata L.) tubers from Vanuatu

    V. Lebot*, R. Malapa1, T. Molisale2 and J.L. Marchand1

    * CIRAD, P.O. Box 946, Port-Vila, Vanuatu, South Pacific
    1 CIRAD, 72 Av. JF Breton, 34398 Montpellier Cedex 5, France
    2 VARTC, P.O. Box 231, Santo, Vanuatu

    *Author for correspondence (e-mail: lebot@vanuatu.com.vu)

    Received 27 September 2004; accepted in revised form 4 February 2005

    Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution (2005) 00: 1–10

    Key words: Chemotypes, Dioscorea alata, Germplasm, Food quality, Starch

    Abstract: The objectives of this study were: (1) to analyse the physico-chemical characteristics of 48 Dioscorea alata varieties representing a core sample of the Vanuatu national germplasm collection; (2) to relate those characteristics with the varieties eating quality; and (3) to assess the possibility of selecting varieties according to their chemotype. Overall, 331 accessions were collected from 15 different islands of Vanuatu, planted in an ex situ germplasm collection and described during 3 years. The 48 varieties included in the core sample were selected according to their island of origin, eating quality, tuber shape, tuber flesh colour and morphotype. Analyses of their tubers were made for percentage dry matter, starch, amylose, lipids, minerals, proteins, sugars and gelatinisation temperature range. Significant variation exists for each of these characteristics except for gelatinisation temperature. Varieties with good eating quality are characterised with high dry matter, starch and amylose contents. Chemotypes appear to be genetically controlled and further screening of germplasm and/or breeding will have to take into consideration these characteristics, important for farmers’ adoption.

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    Corm rot of giant swamp taro

    From Dr Murukesan.

    Murukesan, Vazhaveli
    van den Berg, Esther
    Tiedt, Laurens
    Josekutty, Puthiyaparambil
    De Waele, Dirk

    Corm rot of giant swamp taro (Cyrtosperma merkusii) caused by the burrowing nematode Radopholus similis (Nematoda: Pratylenchidae) in the Pacific. Nematology, 7(4): 631-636. (2005)

    Summary: The association between the burrowing nematode Radopholus similis and giant swamp taro is studied in detail for the first time in corms collected from swampy taro patches in Yap, one of the states of the Federated States of Micronesia. The R. similis population from Yap displays similar variation in morphometrics and morphology as reported in the literature. The rot caused by the nematodes is wet with a loose mass of brown dead tissues and a deep brown necrotic centre housing nematodes inside. Usually, the infected tissues spread a disgusting odour typical of this disease. The dead tissues progress into shallow to deep cavities that advance towards the edible, central portion of the corm giving a perforated appearance on the outside of the otherwise smooth corm. The disease becomes more severe as the age of the plant increases. Nematode-infected plants seldom show any above-ground symptoms. The market quality of the corm is greatly reduced by the nematode damage. The widespread occurrence of the disease and the type of damage R. similis causes to the corms pose a serious threat to giant swamp taro production, food security and the continuation of traditional customs on those islands where R. similis occurs.

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