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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Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Posted 3:51 PM by Luigi
Melanesian farmers conserve banana diversity
The following article by Michel Fanton appeared in the latest issue of CTA's Spore magazine. Dr Mary Taylor of SPC's Regional Germplasm Centre, who is a regional representative on the banana genetic resources network BAPNET, adds that SPC/BAPNET will be providing some funds in 2006 to evaluate this collection and look at the carotenoid levels.
A local NGO on the island of Makira in the southeastern Solomon Islands is helping subsistence farmers to conserve their hundreds of banana varieties. Thanks to the initiative of the Manivovo Rural Training Centre, several precious varieties, thought to have been lost, have been restored. While everyone in Melanesia eats bananas and plantains, the Makirans rely on the crop to such an extent that neighbouring islanders teasingly call them huki after their favourite food.
Makira has very few roads, so the first collecting expedition was made by motorised canoe. Villages with radio access were invited to donate their ancestral banana suckers to the collections. Local students were asked to bring 10 suckers each from their villages to the training centre, one of three collection points on the island. They documented the names and provenances of all varieties after being given training in the use of scientific descriptors. The students are paid a small fee for each variety they describe. So far, 55 out of 108 varieties have been characterised, using local names such as “three heads” and “eight heads” (referring to multi-headed bunches) or “5 minutes” (referring to cooking time).
The initiative was launched with support from the Kastom Garden Project in the Solomon Islands and the Seed Savers Network in Australia.
The Seed Savers Network
PO Box 975
Agrobiodiversity Weblog: For discussions of conservation and sustainable use of the genetic resources of crops, livestock and their wild relatives.