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?



    Wednesday, December 21, 2005

    Ancient taro and yam processing in PNG

    Journal of Archaeological Science
    Article in Press, Corrected Proof

    Early and mid Holocene tool-use and processing of taro (Colocasia esculenta), yam (Dioscorea sp.) and other plants at Kuk Swamp in the highlands of Papua New Guinea

    Richard Fullagar (a), Judith Field (b), Tim Denham (c) and Carol Lentfer (d)

    (a) Department of Archaeology, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
    (b) Australian Key Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis & The School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
    (c) School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University, Clayton Campus, Wellington Road, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia
    (d) School of Social SciencesUniversity of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia


    Recent multidisciplinary investigations document an independent emergence of agriculture at Kuk Swamp in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. In this paper we report preliminary usewear analysis and details of prehistoric use of stone tools for processing starchy food and other plants at Kuk Swamp. Morphological diagnostics for starch granules are reported for two potentially significant economic species, taro (Colocasia esculenta) and yam (Dioscorea sp.), following comparisons between prehistoric and botanical reference specimens. Usewear and residue analyses of starch granules indicate that both these species were processed on the wetland margin during the early and mid Holocene. We argue that processing of taro and yam commences by at least 10,200 calibrated years before present (cal BP), although the taro and yam starch granules do not permit us to distinguish between wild or cultivated forms. From at least 6950 to 6440 cal BP the processing of taro, yam and other plants indicates that they are likely to have been integrated into cultivation practices on the wetland edge.

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    Monday, December 12, 2005

    Coconut diversity paper

    Phenotypic Diversity of Foliar Traits in Coconut Germplasm

    V. Arunachalam(1)
    B. A. Jerard(2)
    V. Damodaran(3)
    M. J. Ratnambal(1) and
    P. M. Kumaran(1)

    (1) Division of Crop Improvement, Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (ICAR), 671124 Kasaragod, Kerala, India
    (2) Central Plantation Crops Research Institute Research Center (ICAR) & International Coconut Gene Bank for South Asia, Kidu Nettana, Karnataka, India
    (3) World Coconut Germplasm Center (WCGC), Central Agricultural Research Institute, 744101 Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, India

    Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 52(8): 1031 - 1037

    Date: December 2005 Pages
    Received: 29 April 2003
    Accepted: 09 January 2004

    Coconut palm is a multipurpose crop cultivated in tropics. Diversity in this crop is rich in South Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean Islands. Foliar traits have not been studied extensively to understand the diversity. Seven traits relevant to wind tolerance, dry matter production and taxonomic discrimination known in palms are used in the study. An attempt was made using Shannon–Weaver index with an objective to understand the level of diversity for these traits in a germplasm collection from diversity hotspot areas. Seven tall groups and four dwarf groups representing seven island territories were studied using 206 individuals. Diversity estimate was the highest in Nicobar tall group whereas it was low in tall genotypes of Fiji and Tonga. Thickness of leaf sheath fiber of weft and warp strands had shown high diversity estimates. Results obtained in this study were analyzed in relation to adaptation, geographical affinity, mating system and taxonomic forms (typica and nana) along with the importance of foliar traits in diversity of coconut.

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    Alliance for Zero Extinction

    Pinpointing and conserving epicenters of imminent extinctions: "The
    here. You can click on key sites to get information about the site and the species which are endangered there. There are many such sites in the Pacific. You can also also search by country or by species name. For example, the Fiji Islands has five sites, including the Nausori Highlands where Dacrydium nausoriense is apparently endangered.

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    Sunday, December 11, 2005

    Rainforest conservation for emissions

    From Mongbay.com.

    Friday, at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Montreal, the U.N. agreed to a "rainforest conservation for emissions" proposal that allows developing nations to receive financial compensation from industrialized countries for agreeing to preserve their rainforests. Environmentalists hope the deal -- set forth by ten developing countries led by Papua New Guinea -- will give developing nations a financial reason to get more involved in climate talks while safeguarding globally important ecosystems.

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    Thursday, December 08, 2005

    Nauru Keen To Relearn Food Gardening

    Pacific Magazine, Tuesday: December 6, 2005

    The Food and Agriculture Organisation says it is getting a very good response as it encourages Nauruans to start growing their own food.

    Agriculture on the island has been largely ignored over the past two generations with the people relying on imported food.

    With the collapse of the economy that is no longer possible, and food security, through the fostering of local agriculture, was part of a sustainable development strategy presented to aid donors last week.

    Manase Felemi, of the FAO, says the organisation’s been developing gardening skills with an emphasis on community plots, and this has been widely appreciated on the island.

    “What we have found is that a lot of the people who come to the group training at the community level - not only have they participated in the preparation of the community plot, but they have gone back home and started preparing their own plots - making preparations to plant their own small gardens in the backyard, which is a very positive development in this project and it’s a very encouraging sign.”

    Reported By RNZI

    * Comments:

    I was just in Nauru - and was rather disappointed to find out that many of the people who have expressed interest in growing foods have picked non-indigenous and quite high-maintenance crops such as lettuce and cucumber - and also fairly low nutrient density.

    Not a comment on Nauru, but could not find any other way of sending it!

    This from Nutra USA


    Mangosteen making an impact in US

    12/21/2005 - Mangosteen, a little-known fruit from southeast Asia, ranks amongst the antioxidant-rich ‘superfruits’ that have attracted increasing interest from industry and consumers this year, and awareness looks set to grow in the coming year.

    The fruit, which originates from southeast Asia, is still relatively unknown in the United States.

    Some studies have investigated the role of mangostin, one of a family of active compounds known as xanthones, in inhibiting the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol and the activity of PGE2, COX-1, and COX-2 (prostaglandin E2 and cyclooxygenases-1 and -2) – key factors involved in inflammatory conditions.

    Datamonitor's ProductScan Online identified mangosteen as one of several antioxidant-rich fruits that, together, make up one of its top ten trends to watch in 2006.

    Director Tom Vierhile told NutraIngredients-USA.com that three food and beverage products were identified by the market researcher in 2005, compared to two in 2004 and one in 2003.

    Whilst this indicates a trickle rather than a flood, he said that there is “some interest in the benefits of superfruits like mangosteen and pomegranate, so we are seeing companies turn these into headline products”.

    Read on
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    Islanders fight to save vesi trees

    Fiji Times, Friday, December 09, 2005

    A HISTORIC conservation program to save a native species of trees on the verge of extinction is being undertaken by a community that has largely exploited it for commercial reasons.

    Kabara islanders in the Lau Group are actively involved in the historic reforestation program geared at saving the vesi trees, or Intsia bijuga as it is scientifically known.

    The effort, under the guidance of the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Government, has led to the first nursery of vesi trees being set up on the island.

    "We are initiating the reforestation program to ensure the community takes an active approach towards sustainability," said WWF's sustainable forest project officer, Francis Areki.

    The trees are a source of high value timber. Of Kabara's remaining forests, only eight per cent are vesi trees.

    The majority of the 400 or so Kabara islanders are reliant on the vesi timber for their carvings which they use to generate income. "There is a lack of replanting of vesi in Fiji," said the Ministry of Forestry's Acting Principle Forestry Officer, Temo Raravula.

    "We are raising the seedlings of native trees but now we have difficulty in finding seed sources. From my observation in the forest here, there is hardly any re-germinating as expected. Not many trees are bearing seeds," he said.

    "There is no other way that there will be a sustainable supply of vesi in Kabara unless we do this replanting program.

    "The villagers have to now plant where they have already logged. Together with replanting, the use of timber has to be improved."

    Furthermore, villagers have been taught a new skill in carving so that they can use the off-cuts and other wood resources other than the vesi.

    For the last three months, five of the villagers have been undergoing training in Nasinu and will return to the island in February to impart their knowledge.

    * Comments:

    We have recently started to use a simple but very effective propagator for multiplication of indigenous nut and fruit trees. I will see if we have Intsia here in East New Britain and, if so, ask our scientists to try to propagate it from cuttings. If it works we can then liase further to help Kabara.
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    Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    Food Survey in Pohnpei

    From Lois Englberger: I would like to give you a preview of an article coming out today in the Kaselehlie Press. This was written by Amy Levendusky. The findings are the result of painstaking work in making quantified estimates of dietary intake, using one of the most widely used dietary assessment methods, the quantified 24-hour recall. To see the article in print with the accompanying photos, turn to the KP Health Corner! For those readers not familiar with Pohnpei, the site of this study (Mand) is a rural village about 1 hour from the main town of the island.

    Survey Indicates High Consumption of Imported Foods

    by Amy Levendusky

    A dietary assessment carried out in August 2005, in Mand, Madolenihmw [a village on Pohnpei Island] revealed that only 27% of the energy consumed by the adult female participants was from local food, the rest provided by imports. Among children an even smaller proportion of the energy consumed was from local foods (16%).

    These results are from a random sample survey, conducted as part of the project entitled "Documentation of the Traditional Food System of Pohnpei" sponsored by the Island Food Community of Pohnpei. Yumiko Paul, of Pohnpei Department of Health, Welsey Hagilmai, of COM/FSM Land Grant, and Pelihna Moses of Mand Community served as the interviewers, assisted by Douglas Nelber, Department of Land and Natural Resources. In collecting the data,
    a 24-hour recall method was used (asking adult participants to recall each food/drink item consumed in the past 24 hours and the amount, and to provide this information as proxies for their children). Data from 44 adult women and 27 children (aged 1-10 years) were obtained for two non-consecutive days.

    The survey revealed that rice and fish were the two food items most frequently consumed by the women, followed by flour products (donuts, pancakes, bread and ramen), chicken and other meats, and banana and breadfruit (this was in the heart of the breadfruit season). Vegetables and fruits were not commonly consumed.

    The survey also revealed that 62% of the protein consumed by the women was from imported sources. The levels of protein were sufficient but were far over the estimated requirements. The mean intake of protein for non-lactating (not breastfeeding) females was 109 grams per day, but the estimated requirement is only 45 grams.

    On the other hand, vitamin intakes were very low. This puts the women and children at risk to infection and other health problems. The mean intake for the non-lactating female adults was 225 Retinol Equivalents (RE) (vitamin A is expressed by the combination of retinol from animal sources and provitamin A carotenoid from plant sources), but the estimated requirement for that group is 500 RE! Almost none of the children met the estimated requirements. Also very few of the children met estimated requirements for vitamin C. Only 63% of the non-lactating females met the estimated vitamin C requirements, the lactating adults doing better, 83% of them meeting the estimated requirements.

    IFCP would like to thank the Mand community for making this project possible. We would also like to thank our collaborating partners including the Pohnpei Office of Economic Affairs, COM/FSM Land Grant, Department of Health, Department of Land and Natural Resources. Thanks are also extended to the Office of Economic Affairs and the Secretary of the Pacific Community (SPC) Pacific German Regional Forestry Project (PGRFP) for providing transport to the village and to the Centre of Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment (CINE), PGRFP, and Sight and Life for support funds and materials.

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    Tuesday, December 06, 2005

    Did Easter Island get 'ratted' out?

    By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY

    Rats and Europeans are likely to blame for the mysterious demise of Easter Island, a team of anthropologists suggests.

    The fate of the people who built hundreds of 10-ton stone statues on the South Pacific island and then vanished has long been seen as a cautionary environmental tale. Natives deforested the island paradise to transport the statues, the story goes, triggering erosion that damaged farmlands. And then they supposedly bumped themselves off in a cannibalistic civil war in about 1650.

    But anthropologist Terry Hunt of the University of Hawaii at Manoa first blames the Polynesian rat. The rats probably deforested the 66-square-mile island's 16 million palm trees. "Palm tree seeds are filet mignon to rats," Hunt says.

    Working with colleagues at the island's anthropology museum and elsewhere since 2001, Hunt's team has undertaken an extensive archaeological survey of the island:
    • Charcoal remains show that Polynesians settled the island in 1200, much later than supposed from earlier, inaccurate dates of such deposits.
    • Pollen and ash deposits show that the number of palm trees declined swiftly in the years before fires, the signature of human occupation, appeared on the island.
    • Rat remains indicate that the rodent population spiked at 20 million from 1200 to 1300 and then dropped off to a mere 1 million after the trees were gone.
    • Skeletal remains and digs of old homes show little or no evidence of early warfare.

    Instead, the disappearance of Easter Islanders probably was caused by visiting Dutch traders in the 1700s, who brought diseases and, later, slave raiding, says Hunt, who presented his findings at an American Anthropological Association meeting last week.

    Older explanations essentially blamed the victims for their demise, says archaeologist Patricia McAnany of Boston University. The island still represents a cautionary tale, she says, but one of the dangers of invasive species.

    But New Zealand's John Flenley of Massey University calls the idea "most unlikely," saying rats didn't deforest other Polynesian islands.

    Hunt counters that deforestation of palm trees by Polynesian rats occurred on the Hawaiian islands. And the Easter Island palms were uniquely vulnerable because the rats had no predators and the trees didn't grow at elevations too high for them to reach.

    Hunt suggests that about 50 settlers first landed on the island and grew to a stable population of at least 3,000 people by 1650. That seems reasonable, says mathematician William Basener of the Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology, an expert in population models.

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    Sustainable agribusiness in natural products?

    ASNAPP, Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products, is dedicated to developing to the development of natural products to reduce poverty in rural communities. It works to promote collaboration and knowledge sharing among research and academic institutions, government, private enterprise, non-profit organizations, the donor community and civil society. With contacts in Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Zambia as well as the US, ASNAPP initiatives include a food industry program for initiating and developing multinational cooperation, as well as creating sustainable germplasm development for non-traditional crops. Something the Pacific can learn from?

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    Monday, December 05, 2005

    Bioprospecting in the Pacific: Who gets to benefit?

    By Bill Aalbersberg, in Island Business. Professor Bill Aalbersberg is Director of USP's Institute of Applied Sciences. IAS aims to help Pacific Islands countries conserve and develop their resources sustainably (http://www.usp.ac.fj/ias/).

    In the Verata district of Fiji, people turn to their Community Trust Fund for scholarship support for local students. In Faleaupo, Samoa, the cost of construction of a primary school was donated by a foundation in return for the community's conservation of their rainforest. Both the trust fund and the school's construction were made possible by bioprospecting.

    Bioprospecting is the collection of plants and/or marine organisms by scientists looking for medicines that could be derived from the chemicals in the collected material.

    Plants that have been used for traditional medicines, in many cases for thousands of years, are targeted. Evidence has shown that scientists have more than 10 times the chance of finding an active chemical in a medicinal plant than in a randomly collected one.

    Besides medicinal plants, particularly valued are marine invertebrates such as sponges, soft corals and sea squirts, which are soft and colourful and move slowly, if at all (thus making them easy to collect), and tend to use strong chemical defences to prevent predation.

    Time, money and expertise

    A large number of medicines we buy at the pharmacy were discovered through bioprospecting. For example, the chemicals vinblastin and vincristine, now used in anti-leukemia drugs, were discovered in the ornamental rosy periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus). It is estimated that about one-third of the drugs prescribed in the United States-including aspirin, ephedrine, belladonna, penicillin, quinine, morphine, digitalis and many anti-cancer drugs-contain plant-derived components.

    The process of drug discovery takes about 15 years from sample collection to having a marketable drug, and involves:
    • collection
    • activity testing
    • identifying the active chemical
    • making slight changes to the chemical to see if it improves activity
    • testing for toxicity
    • testing on animals and humans
    It is estimated that only one in 10,000 chemicals investigated ends up as a saleable drug and the cost of coming up with one drug is US$800 million.

    Who gets the benefits?

    A major issue related to the work of bioprospecting is who benefits if medicines are found. In the past, plants and marine organisms were often collected from developing countries by Western researchers and the source country received little in return.

    This neo-colonial “open access” policy was turned on its head by the 1993 Convention on Biological Diversity, which gave sovereign rights of biodiversity to the source country but encouraged them to allow access to outside researchers under mutually agreed terms.

    Pacific countries have been slow to develop this so-called “access and benefit-sharing” legislation.

    In the examples cited at the start of this article, it was the collecting group working with the local community who ensured that a wide range of benefits were made available to the source area. Responsible scientists understand the importance of preserving the biological diversity from which the chemicals come, and to further this preservation, they seek partnerships that will allow source communities to undertake conservation efforts.

    Local organisms show promise

    No chemical derived from a Pacific organism has yet been fully developed into a marketable drug. But several are showing promise.
    • A medicinal tree from Samoa called malamala (Homalanthus nutans), has been found to be active against HIV. United States scientists are trying to identify the gene that tells the plant to make the chemical.
    • A district in Fiji has licensed plants and marine organisms for testing in Japan and set up a conservation trust fund of US$30,000 with the proceeds.
    • An orange sponge (Jaspis coriacea) and the makita tree (Atuna racemosa) in Fiji have produced chemicals for medical research. The US company involved is giving 2-5% of the proceeds from sales to support further research in Fiji.
    • A chemical from a medicinal tree in Fiji has been patented as an anti-diabetes drug.
      Chemicals from the sea hare (Dolabella auriculata) and another orange sponge (Jaspis johnstoni) are in advanced human trials for anti-cancer activity.
    • A red algae from Fiji has recently yielded a new class of chemical that is active in killing cancer cells and HIV.

    The Universities of the South Pacific (USP) and Papua New Guinea (UPNG) are playing leading roles in the development of biodiversity by the use of biotechnology, having set up local enterprises to increase local ability to perform the work.

    Both universities have received a prestigious International Cooperation in Biodiversity Grant given by the United States government to partnerships of US and overseas universities working to discover drugs and conserve biodiversity.

    USP is working with the Georgia Institute of Technology and UPNG with the University of Utah, with funding of about US$3 million over a five-year period. USP's Institute of Applied Sciences (IAS) has set up a research unit in collaboration with the Regional Germplasm Centre of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), focusing on marine biotechnology such as DNA fingerprinting of sponges and soft corals.

    Collaborations such as these are helping to bring benefits to the people of the Pacific and, ultimately, to the people of the world.

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    Cassava for ethanol

    Island Business reports that a Korean company has leased 3248 hectares of customary land in Papua New Guinea for a US$27-million investment in cassava growing for ethanol production. They don't say which varieties will be grown, but the NARI national cassava germplasm collection at Laloki numbers almost 80 accessions so there should be plenty to choose from.

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    Paying for forest conservation

    From Mongbay.com.

    If a coalition of developing countries has its way, there could soon be new forests sprouting up in tropical regions. The group of ten countries, led by Papua New Guinea, has proposed that wealthy countries pay them to preserve their rainforests. Since forests absorb atmospheric carbon as they grow and release carbon as they are cut or degraded, the coalition seeks compensation for the amount of carbon locked up by their forests. Focusing specifically on the value of carbon sequestration the coalition could be talking a lot of money. At the current going rate of $20 for a one-ton unit of carbon dioxide, the forests of Bolivia, Central African Republic, Chile, Congo, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Papua New Guinea are worth around $1.1 trillion for their carbon sequestration alone. Of course the forests offer a great deal more value through the other, less measurable services they provide including fisheries protection, biodiversity preservation, erosion and flood control, recreation and tourism value, harvest of renewable products, and water services.

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    IUCN Vacancy Announcement in the Pacific

    Title: Regional Director for Oceania
    Duty station: IUCN Regional Office for Oceania, Suva, Fiji
    Reporting to: Director General

    In October 2005, IUCN launched a regional programme for Oceania. This new position provides an exciting opportunity to develop a new programme with the support of IUCN’s members and partners in the region.

    The Regional Director leads the strategic development and effective implementation in Oceania of the regional component of an integrated global programme, as well as contributing to the global management of the Union. This position requires competencies across a broad spectrum of subjects ranging from organizational management and financial planning to biodiversity and ecosystem-based resource management strategies and policies. The regional programme is implemented in collaboration with IUCN members and partners.

    As the official representative of the Director General in the region, the Regional Director is responsible for maintaining a high and professional corporate profile for IUCN, particularly with IUCN members, partners and donors. As Head of the Regional Office, the incumbent is accountable for all financial, personnel and administrative matters and is also responsible for ensuring financial viability of the regional programme.


    1. Represent IUCN in the region in a manner that promotes IUCN’s mission and enhances the status of the Union among decision-making bodies, intergovernmental agencies, non-governmental organisations and the private sector.
    2. Oversee preparation, implementation, evaluation and reporting of multi-year and annual programmes for IUCN’s work in the region.
    3. Develop and maintain long-term fund-raising strategies and nurture relations with the donor community in the region.
    4. Assume the operational management of all IUCN activities in the region and ensure adequate maintenance of financial, human resources and other relevant policies and procedures.
    5. Initiate and facilitate initiatives and dialogues on key issues of conservation policy based on IUCN’s regional and global priorities.
    6. Develop and maintain regular contact with governments, the Oceania Regional Committee (ORC), existing IUCN members, partner organisations, Councillors, and Commission members.
    7. In collaboration with ORC, implement the IUCN Membership strategy and develop a membership recruitment plan
    8. Liaise with IUCN’s global secretariat and Commissions for the purpose of enhancing the work of IUCN in the region.
    9. Oversee recruitment and administration of IUCN staff in the region.
    10. Contribute to the global management of the IUCN Secretariat and Programme.


    • Post graduate/advanced degree in a subject related to conservation and sustainable development.
    • At least 10 years’ professional experience in management of a conservation/sustainable development programme, of which at least 5 years in the Oceania region.
    • Extensive knowledge of global conservation and sustainable development policy issues.
    • Experience in strategic management and leadership of networks as well as fund-raising.
    • Ability to lead and motivate a team within a complex, decentralized organisation.
    • Communication, negotiation, networking and resource mobilisation skills.
    • Excellent command of English. Knowledge of other languages is an asset.


    Applicants are asked to submit their CV and a supporting letter of motivation in English. The letter must specifically address the selection criteria in the order presented above. Applicants should further provide the names/contact details of three referees, including one recent employer.

    Applications should be submitted, preferably by email, before 7 January 2006 to:

    Director – Human Resources
    The World Conservation Union (IUCN)
    Rue Mauverney 28, 1196 Gland, Switzerland
    Fax : +4122 999 0339
    E-mail : jobapplications@iucn.org

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    Sunday, December 04, 2005

    New coconut book

    Coconut: A guide to traditional and improved varieties
    By R. Bourdeix, J.L. Konan and Y.P. N’Cho

    R. Bourdeix, J.L. Konan and Y.P. N’Cho

    ENGLISH VERSION: ISBN 2-9525408-1-0
    FRENCH VERSION: ISBN 2-9525408-0-2

    Editions Diversiflora, Montpellier, France (editions_diversiflora@yahoo.fr)

    Thirty-four varieties, including Dwarf and Tall types, and farmers' varieties as well as hubrids, from 18 different countries are each depicted with excellent photographs and a one-page text describing their main uses and agronomic traits. The book, by international coconut experts, also explains the botany, ethnobotany and history of the coconut palm. I have an order form for those who would like to buy a copy.

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    DIDINET Newsletter from NARI

    DIDINET stands for "Didiman/Didimeri Network." It is a network for scientists and other stakeholders in the PNG agriculture sector. The National Agricultural Research Institute of PNG (NARI) facilitates this forum. For more information, contact the editor, Seniorl Anzu (seniorl.anzu@nari.org.pg).

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    Australia to ratify International Treaty on PGR for Food and Agriculture

    Press Release: Wednesday, 23 November 2005, 6:27 pm.

    Australia will ratify a treaty covering the conservation, sustainable use and international exchange of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

    Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Peter McGauran made the announcement last night while addressing the 33rd Session of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Conference in Rome.

    "The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture has important implications for the future productivity and international competitiveness of Australia's agriculture sector," he said.

    "Our plant breeders rely heavily on genetic material from overseas to develop new crops - including new grains, oilseed, pastoral and horticulture varieties.
    "The treaty sets out the legal framework covering access to this material and the sharing of the potential benefits. That provides our breeders with the certainty and confidence they need to access the genetic material needed to keep Australian agriculture at the international forefront."
    Mr McGauran said Australia would continue to work closely with FAO on the detail of the treaty's working provisions.

    "Final decisions in this regard are expected to be made at the first meeting of the treaty's Governing Body in Spain next June," he said.

    "Australia will also remain a major donor to the Global Crop Diversity Trust - a key source of funding for the treaty. The Trust promotes long-term food security by coordinating international, regional and national crop collections around the world."

    Mr McGauran said Australia holds significant collections of genetic plant material in seed banks around the country.

    "To ensure this material is properly managed and conserved, we will set up the National Genetic Resource Centre," he said.

    "It will have the job of coordinating Australian-based collections, as well as improving their content and long-term efficiency. The Centre will also be responsible for ensuring that any obligations arising from the treaty are met by the Australian collections."

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    Two Pacific Coconut Success Stories

    From Pacific Magazine.

    Coconut Crazy Vanuatu Firm Revolutionizes Copra Processing
    By Tiffany Carroll

    A South African family is vowing to turn Vanuatu's coconut industry around with a revolutionary oil-extracting machine that would see the end of copra cutters in the archipelago.

    Mark Bowker of Vanuatu Virgin Coconut Oil (VVCO) says the machine, designed by his grandfather, will be able to extract five tons of virgin coconut oil a day, something that would normally take at least six days. He says it will also result in consistently higher quality oil.

    "Current copra drying methods are neither hygienic nor quality controlled, meaning the buyer cannot be assured of the grade of oil every time," he says.

    The Bowker oil extraction process is totally mechanized and self-sufficient. The stainless steel machine is capable of processing large quantities of coconuts mechanically, as opposed to the current practice of cutting and digging out the meat by hand.

    Virgin coconut oil is a lucrative commodity, with a market value hovering between $US8,500 and $US16,000 a ton. VVCO is offering six vatu per whole nut to coconut producers, averaging 30,000 vatu (US$268) per ton.

    "That's way above market price and involves very little work for the farmer," Bowker says.
    VVCO's product is destined for the health, beauty and pharmaceutical markets. The oil is extracted within one hour of the fresh nut being cut, eliminating the risk of bacteria developing during the handling process and reducing the quality of the oil. Whilst there are several virgin coconut oil businesses around the Pacific, most are producing less than 100 liters of oil a day.

    "The process by which VVCO produces virgin coconut oil is not done anywhere else in the world and the fact the technology is patented worldwide means this will be good for Vanuatu as nobody can copy or replicate this process globally," Bowker says.

    Bowker says Vanuatu's coconut industry is in urgent need of help and VVCO is committed to opening new export markets. "The (Vanuatu) farmer is already questioning his future in cutting and providing copra due to the high running costs. Some farmers are already changing their focus and looking for other options opposed to replanting a new generation of coconut trees."

    Bowker is confident of producing an initial 2.5 tons of oil every eight hours. Vanuatu Virgin Coconut Oil eventually hopes to rely on just a few major plantation owners to supply coconuts. A large percentage of outer islanders are employed as copra cutters in Vanuatu. Many work for the larger plantations that VVCO is hoping will become suppliers of nuts.

    If the Bowker process is successful, those workers could be out of jobs since there would be no need to crack the nuts and strip out the meat. However, the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority, the government body that approves all foreign investment in the country, is behind the Bowker's $A1.3 million (US$987,285) venture, giving approval for the business to operate and assisting with import tax breaks for the company.

    "I hope farmers will see the future the way we do, and we'll all do well," Bowker says.

    Fill It Up With Coconut Oil? Marshalls Firm Substitutes Coconut Oil For Diesel
    By Giff Johnson

    Most Pacific Islanders live on islands whose most noticeable product is coconuts, but there has been only sporadic interest in or energy spent on developing coconut fuel as a viable alternative.

    In the Marshall Islands the situation has changed dramatically since late last year. Following experiments over the last three years with Tobolar Copra Processing Plant vehicles using coconut oil as a substitute for diesel fuel, Pacific International Inc.-the country's largest construction firm-is fueling its fleet of heavy equipment and its ocean-going vessels with cheaper and cleaner coconut oil.

    "The questions, 'can you use coconut oil as a substitute for diesel' and 'what will it do to the engine?' were not easily answered," says PII owner Jerry Kramer about efforts to begin using coconut oil fuel in the 1990s.University of Hawaii studies indicated that use of coconut oil in diesel engines would deteriorate rubber hoses, clog filters, reduce the power of the engine and lead to excessive carbon build up, Kramer adds. The main drawback to using coconut oil is that the oil absorbs and holds moisture, and at temperatures below 78 degrees Fahrenheit, it hardens. But in the Marshall Islands it never gets below 78 degrees, so the only question that needed answering was about moisture and residue left in engines.

    Kramer, whose company manages the copra processing plant for the government, simply started operating a vehicle on coconut fuel and after three years, "we opened up the engine and it was perfect," he says. "There was no carbon build up, the fuel lines were clear and the tank was clean."

    For the past year, PII has been fueling all its diesel vehicles and ships with coconut oil. "Two of our loaders use coconut oil," he said. "There's no problems, no black smoke. It burns clean and smells sweet."

    PII's two tugboats and the Deborah K cargo vessel are all running on coconut oil fuel. Now a number of other local vehicles are doing the coconut oil routine. The copra processing plant sells coconut oil at about $2 a gallon-a far cry from the $3.70 a gallon diesel customers were paying in early October.

    The simplicity of the way unrefined coconut oil works in diesel engines immediately suggested to Kramer the opportunity for its use on remote outer islands in the Marshalls. He sees two good options: one is a five-kilowatt home unit diesel generator; another is for a larger 30 KW generator that powers a unit that produces coconut oil while providing additional electricity for community use.

    He's developing this as a pilot plant for outer islands to produce coconut oil to fuel home-sized generators. A five KW generator run from coconut oil can support appliances such as a rice cooker, washing machine and TV-compared to most of the donated solar units going into outer islands that are big enough to power only one or two light bulbs.

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    Pacific Books

    Chris Ballard, Paula Brown, R. Michael Bourke and Tracy Harwood (eds). 2005. The Sweet Potato in Oceania: A Reappraisal. Pittsburgh and Sydney: Ethnology, University of Pittsburgh and Oceania Publications, University of Sydney.

    1. Still Good to Think With: The Sweet Potato in Oceania - by Chris Ballard
    2. Sweet Potato in Papua New Guinea: The Plant and People - by R. Michael Bourke
    3. Searching for Sweet Potato in the Fossil Pollen Record - by Simon G. Haberle and Gill Atkin
    4. Kumara in the Ecuatorial Gulf of Guayaquil? - by Richard Scaglion
    5. Sweet PotatoTransfers in Polynesian Prehistory - by R.C. Green
    6. Ufi kumara, the Sweet Potato as Yam - by Helen Leach
    7. Archaeology and the Sweet Potato in Kahikinui, Maui, Hawaiian Islands - by James Coil and PatrickV. Kirch
    8. Sweet Potato Production on Rapa Nui - by Paul Wallin, Christopher Stevenson and Thegn Ladefogel
    9. Of kumara and Canoes: Maori and Hawaiian Mythologies and American Contacts - by Serge Dunis
    10. The Evidence for Sweet Potato in Island Melanesia - by Matthew G.Allen
    11. Archaeology Evidence for the Ipomoean Revolution at Kuk Swamp, Upper Wahgi Valley, Papua New Guinea - by Tim Bayliss-Smith, JackGolson, Philip Hughes, Russell Blong and Wal Ambrose
    12. Social, Symbolic, and Ritual Roles of the Sweet Potato in Enga, Papua New Guinea - by Polly Wiessner
    13. Sweet Potato, Pigs and the Chimbu of the Papua New Guinea Highlands - by Paula Brown and Harold Brookfield
    14. Beyondthe Ipomoean Revolution: Sweet Potato on the 'Fringe' of the Papua NewGuinea Highlands - by David J. Boyd
    15. Sweet Potato in thje CentralHighlands of West New Guinea - by Anton Ploeg
    16. Sweet Potato Research and Development in Papua, Indonesia - by Alexander Yaku and Caecilia A.Widyastuti
    17. The Continuing Ipomoean Revolution in Papua New Guinea - R. Michael Bourke
    18. Reflection, Refraction and Recombination - by Douglas E. Yen.

    Paul Van der Grijp. 2004. Identity and Development: Tongan Culture, Agriculture, and the Perenniality of the Gift. Leiden: KITLV Press. "Identity and Development presents a remarkable record of Tonga's increasing participation in the modern global economy, and provides anthropologists, economists, and historians with a detailed case study that bears heavily on major issues of the day, both practically and theoretically. The book focuses on issues of identity, entrepreneurship, and the intricacies of development and addresses the question, 'How (in the current state of the economy) can a Tongan become a successful grower?' This question is set against the background of a boom in cash cropping, sparked by a burgeoning export trade with Japan. Identity and development is in the tradition of the best Pacific ethnographies insofar as it describes living individuals - their specific desires and aspirations, the dilemmas they confront, thecultural ambiguities they must contend with, the constraints andincentives that guide their activities. Van der Grijp explicitly rejectsthe 'love of ease which wanders through [...] postmodern anthropology' and commits to a comparative perspective that presupposes a dialectic between generalities and particularities, between abstract theory on theone hand, and case studies on the other. The book is a fine example of what this entails."

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    Pacifika improved and integrated farming systems
    Income generation and a better environment from enriched and stabilised mixed crop farming

    A Policy Briefing for Governments and Development Agencies in the Pacific Region: An output from a regional agroforestry workshop on ensuring food security and better livelihoods for Pacific people

    The Problem - Because of increasing pressures for land in most Pacific island countries, shifting agriculture is no longer a sustainable form of land use. The needs of farmers have changed and shifting cultivation no longer meets the needs of farmers for food security and income generation. Most importantly, the shortened fallow periods no longer restore soil fertility and shifting agriculture is now damaging the environment.

    The Facts - Traditional mixed cropping systems have many advantages. The benefits include:

    • Diversity provides resilience and risk aversion from environmental and market failures
    • Low input expenditures maximize economic returns
    • Ecosystem services are protected and harnessed to maximize nutrient and water use efficiency, as well as to sustain the natural food chains and life cycles that regulate pests and diseases
    • The integrated mixture of traditional food crops with tree crops in a permanent and profitable production system (agroforest)
    • Opportunities for a diverse ‘portfolio’ of natural resource investments in a mixture of crops meeting domestic and market needs
    • Opportunities for inclusion of speciality crops for ‘niche’ markets as well as the staple foods
    • Perennial crops, especially trees for timber and indigenous fruits and nuts (‘Agroforestry Tree Products’), provide a ‘bank account’ for the next generation
    • Suitable for marginal land and protection of hillsides and water catchments
    • Close affinity with culture and existing lifestyles while allowing economic advancement and enhanced livelihoods
    What are Pacifika Improved and Integrated Farming Systems? - This name was accepted at a regional workshop at IRETA, USP, Alafua, Samoa in September 2005 to describe the range of mixed cropping systems found in the Pacific islands that enhance sustainability and ecological stability by including a mixture of trees and other crops. This enrichment of traditional crops with trees improves overall profitability, maximizes productivity, creates opportunities for innovation and maximises environmental services. Thus this form of mixed cropping provides a landuse that combines traditional approaches to farming with modern agroforestry science as an alternative to shifting agriculture.

    Recommendation - Adopt this Action-Oriented Agenda
    • Participatory approaches to determine and serve the needs of farmers and other stakeholders
    • Market research to identify new commercial opportunities, especially for indigenous plants
      producing marketable products (fruits, nuts, extractives, medicinals, timber, etc.)
    • Landuse planning needs to include Pacifika IIFS
    • Research on the integration of trees and crops, building on worldwide knowledge
    • Research on domestication of novel tree crops
    • Farmer training and the establishment of NGO support
    • Extension and dissemination of outputs of former research and development projects
    • Awareness building in rural communities about Pacifika IIFS
    • Development and protection of data and databases on soils
    • Improvement and enforcement of landuse policies
    • Private sector involvement in rural development
    • Multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional projects
    • Ministerial ownership of multi-sector initiatives
    For further information

    Mohammed Umar, Director, IRETA, The University of the South Pacific (USP), Alafua Campus, Private Mail Bag, pia, Samoa; Tel: +685 22 372; Fax: +685 22 347; E-mail: umar_m@samoa.usp.ac.fj
    Rger Leakey, Agroforestry and Novel Crops Unit, School of Tropical Biology, James Cook Univesity, Cairns, Qld, ustralia; Tel: +61 7 4042 1573; Fax: +61 7 4042 1319; E-mail: Roger.Leakey@jcu.edu.au
    Caig Elevitch, Agroforestry Net, PO Box 428, Holualoa, Hawaii 96725, USA; Tel: +1 808 324 4427; Fax: +1 808 324 4129; E-mail: cre@agroforestry.org

    Support from: CTA, IRETA, GTZ, SPC, Agroforestry.net, James Cook University

    Get the pdf of this document at http://www.agroforestry.net/pubs/PIIFS_Policy_Briefing.pdf.

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    Betelnut in PNG

    From Robin Hide.

    Fairbairn, A. and P. Swadling (2005). “Re-dating Mid-Holocene Betelnut (Areca catechu L.) and Other Plant Use at Dongan, Papua New Guinea.” Radiocarbon 47(3): 377-382.

    Abstract: Direct accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dating of anaerobically preserved plant remains from the Dongan site in New Guinea, combined with assessment of preservation condition, confirms earlier doubts about the antiquity of betelnut (Areca catechu L.) found at the site. A possible sago leaf fragment is also identified as a modern contaminant. The mid-Holocene age of other fruit and nut remains is verified using these methods. The utility of AMS dating in combination with detailed archaeobotanical assessment is demonstrated, thus improving chronometric hygiene and with it knowledge of past plant use in Oceania.

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    Local foods and health

    From the K-P Perspective column in the newspaper Kaselehlie Press, November 24-December 7, 2005.

    IFCP-A Group Dedicated to your Health

    The K-P Perspective has previously noted that the cures for many of the FSM's health problems are literally hanging on the trees or hiding in the dirt. Now an organization has been formed that will do more to assist you to get the right kinds of foods to eat. The Island Food Community of Pohnpei (IFCP) is a group of people who understand the importance of local food in the diets of all Micronesians. These folks have been arranging community meetings, producing videos, holding workshops, organizing food fairs, and now are working towards the on-island processing of local foods to make it easier to find good, wholesome, agricultural products at the markets. It is anticipated that these foods will find their way onto the dinner tables in many, many Pohnpeian homes. From the table, it is only a short trip by spoon or fork to where these foods can do their best work - in your body.

    Prior to the arrival of imported and packaged food into Micronesia, there were few nutrition-related diseases in the island populations. Visit a museum or the Micronesian Seminar and look at some old photographs, you won't find very many fat or obese individuals. The imported foods have dealt a double curse.

    First they made it physically easy to get food - no more sweating while working on the farm, or in the taro patch, or paddling canoes, or diving to catch fish. The opportunity for 'productive exercise' has been eliminated. And now with outboards, and cars, and jobs that only require sitting and talking (maybe a little typing), physical activity (that's when you sweat or breath hard) is something that you never have to do.

    Second, the nutritional value of many of the imported foods is extremely low, and in several cases it is actually BAD for people to eat the stuff. (Ramen mixed with kool-aid!!!) Imported food is often expensive, and thus for people with limited funds, the imported food that they can afford is cheap and has little nutritional value. Why are turkey tails, and ramen and rice so popular these days? Because there has now been three or four generations brought up on these items, and what is fed to children on a regular basis, they usually grow to like.

    So our KP-Perspective hats are off to the IFCP. Keep up the good work! Push for the public to start to eat the things that their grand and great-grandparents ate: breadfruit, yams, taro, bananas (including Karat - the best banana in the world, and the Official Banana of Pohnpei State) and all the rest.

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    Festive Micronesian Foods

    From Dr Lois Englberger. You can subscribe to Local Food Trends, the Island Food Community of Pohnpei newsletter, edited by Amy Levendusky, by contacting Lois on nutrition@mail.fm.

    It is exciting to share with you that Jane Elymore, FSM Women's Coordinator, and previous FSM National Nutritionist, was recorded by Radio Australia on November 30, 2005, for a program talking about special festive Microneisan foods. This was on the "In the Loop" program, organized by Heather Jarvis and her colleague Isabelle Genoux, and is for the entire Pacific region. Heather had contacted me previously about their program and had made a short program about Pohnpei bananas, in particular about the promotion of the Taiwang variety. Then just recently she wrote that in the lead-up to Christmas they were putting some segments together from around the Pacific region about how Christmas is celebrated and asked if I could recommend someone to speak with them for a 10-15 minute chat on their program. I recommended Jane as I know that she has so much experience talking about food and nutrition and also because she likes cooking! Jane agreed and later told me how she had shared the recipe of Fafa Sukla, which is a special delicacy of Kosrae. It is exciting that special FSM recipes are being shared around the Pacific region!Thank you Jane for your willingness to talk, and thank you Heather very much for contacting us here in Micronesia!!

    Kalahngan, Lois

    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: https://mail.suva.spc.int/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.islandfood.org

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