A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
PAPGREN coordination and support
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
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Thursday, January 19, 2006
Posted 1:59 PM by Luigi
Gourmet sweet potato?
Here's a Press Release by Crop & Food Research New Zealand (19 Jan 2006) sent in by Aroha Te Pareake Mead. This is what she says about it: "It would be nice if the main motive for this collaboration was to increase the production of kumara as a food staple for all, rather than a boutique product for the high-end market. It is boutique market that usually motivates intellectual property assertions by the researchers."
The unique white-skinned and white-fleshed early Maori kumara are to be studied for their potential as a gourmet food.
Demand for foods derived from "unaltered" or "pure" plant material that is produced using culturally and environmentally sensitive techniques has prompted research on nine lines of early Maori kumara. These include three lines with the unique white skin and white flesh which were among those brought back from Japan to New Zealand in 1988.
The Pu Hao Rangi Trust, guardians of the early kumara, have joined with the Tahuri Whenua Inc. (the National Maori Vegetable Growers' Collective), in a joint venture to explore the economic potential of New Zealand's early kumara. Technology New Zealand will fund the two-year research project.
Chairperson of Pu Hao Rangi, Dell Wihongi, said, "We are delighted to be working with the Tahuri Whenua. We have the heritage kumara and Tahuri Whenua represents the Maori Vegetable Growers Collective which is successfully producing crops for select markets. Just as our fore-bearers found ways to grow this root crop as a food source, we seek to find the current potential of these kumara."
Chairman of Tahuri Whenua, Nick Roskruge said, "Currently, we are involved in growing and dispersing early varieties of taewa (potato), kaanga (corn), hue and kamokamo. There is an increasing demand for wholesome, natural, regional foods, particularly from top-end diners and the slow food movement. Our early kumara would fit this and, if we can grow enough of it, I think there is potential for export."
The nine early Maori kumara lines (four pre-European and five post-European) were returned from Japan for safe-keeping to the Pu Hao Rangi Trust. On their return, Crop & Food Research assisted the Trust by removing viruses and Pam Fletcher has maintained the virus-free lines in tissue culture at Lincoln.
Crop & Food Research agronomists are now working to understand the best growing conditions for the cultivars. Yields and quality during storage will be two key factors examined in the trials.
Crop & Food Research's Maori Research Leader, Dr Meto Leach said, "Unlike common kumara grown today, little is known about these early cultivars. The research is needed to see how they will survive transplanting and to identify their susceptibility to climate and disease."
The aim is to identify an early kumara line suitable for the market and to establish a successful production system. Tahuri Whenua and Pu Hao Rangi will work together to get production underway and develop markets.
The research should be complete by July 2007 and then the knowledge gained will be given to growers who will work to build up production.
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Maori Party Commends Initiative of the ‘Guardians of the Kumara’
Tariana Turia, Co-leader, Maori Party; 20 January 2006
The Maori Party today congratulated Te Pu Hao Rangi Trust, guardians of the early kumara, for their joint venture with Tahuri Whenua Inc, the National Maori Vegetable Growers Collective, to explore the economic potential of the early kumara.
Technology New Zealand is funding a two year project, based on nine lines of early Maori kumara. The unique white-skinned, white-fleshed kumara are being studied to identify a early kumara line suitable for the market.
“I pay special tribute to the dedication of the kuia, Dell Wihongi [Te Rawawa, Hokianga] who I know will ensure that the intellectual property involved in this research will stay with tangata whenua” stated Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party.
Dell Wihongi was Principal claimant for the WAI 262 claim, the Native Flora and Fauna claim; and is Chairperson of Te Pu Hao Rangi Trust.
The precedent for securing intellectual property rights has been established internationally, through an agreement with the International Potato Centre (which is part of the United Nations) and the Potato Park owned by the six Aymara/Quechua communities. The Centre signed a binding agreement that they would not assert intellectual property rights over any research results or products.
“This kind of research is exciting if it has the potential to reduce poverty amongst Maori whanau by encouraging more whanau to grow produce for their own consumption as well as for markets” said Mrs Turia.
“The Mäori Party welcomes any opportunity to share the benefits of our traditional foods” stated Mrs Turia. “Our hope will be that the outcomes of this research will not just produce food for the high-end boutique market, but will also create affordable food for all”.
“The Maori Party also commends the initiative of Tahuri Whenua in their endeavours to produce taewa (potato), kaanga (corn), hue and kamokamo.
“Re-introducing traditional staple foods such as these early kumara into whanau diets, can also have great promise in improving Maori health” said Mrs Turia.
Mrs Turia spoke about the cultivation of the early kumara in the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
“These issues are uppermost in our minds with the United Nations meeting next week in Spain expected to discuss, again, the contentious issues around the so-called ‘Terminator Technology’.
Terminator (or GURTS - Genetic Use Restriction Technology) is a technology of genetic engineering that has been designed by the multi-national seed industry to render seeds sterile at harvest - thus forcing farmers to return to corporations to buy fresh seeds rather than saving and reusing their own.
“The Maori Party is aware that the multi-national seed companies have often campaigned long and hard to convince indigenous people that they have the answer to crop failure with the creation of their hybrid plants, when in fact crop failure is often the result of deforestation, chemical pollution and the ozone layer effect”.
“The Maori Party will be writing to the Government to encourage them to maintain the moratorium against Terminator Technology” stated Mrs Turia.
“Maori organic food producers, small-holder farmers, and tangata whenua will be amongst other communities campaigning against genetic use restriction technologies” said Mrs Turia.
“We will be keeping a close eye on the Government delegates attending the Convention of Biological Diversity [CBD] and Agricultural Biological Diversity [ABD] meetings to protect traditional knowledge and food security, through opposing terminator technology”.
Agrobiodiversity Weblog: For discussions of conservation and sustainable use of the genetic resources of crops, livestock and their wild relatives.