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
Interested in GIS?
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Posted 8:48 PM by Luigi
SAMOA: SDUP Vows To Help Private Sector Revive Coconut Industry
March 16, 2006
Two weeks out from Samoa's general elections, the main opposition party has turned its focus to out of work coconut farmers by promising to revive the flagging coconut industry.
The Samoa Democratic United Party said this week that it if elected into government, they will initiate reforms that will encourage the private sector to be at the forefront of coconut production.
The SDUP cited problems in the past with government involvement, alleging nepotism in the tendering process which resulted in the main coconut mill in the Vaitele going into receivership.
"The SDUP do not consider that the public sector (and a SDUP Government) should engage in trading or manufacturing (as buying of copra and coconut oil production are)," a SDUP statement read.
"It's approach is to encourage the private sector to enter these fields with government support, but not compete with it."
SDUP argues that the current machinery and equipment at Vaitele is run down and that the overseas market is too tough to compete with price-wise.
SDUP said it supports the plans by the 'Aufaipopo' Society to set up two new mills, one on Upolu and one in Savaii, and the restablishment of coconut plantings. They would grant subsidies on weed killers and fertilisers to local coconut farmers and set up coconut seed gardens.
-Peter Rees/Pacific Magazine
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Posted 3:00 PM by Luigi
Some PNG stories
The latest DIDINET newsletter from Seniorl Anzu (firstname.lastname@example.org), PNG National Agricultural Research Institute has a number of interesting stories. Here's a taster:
‘Grow more taro’
A group of women farmers from Morobe Province were left flustered when told that a supermarket in Port Moresby was selling taros imported from Vanuatu. Steven Mesa of the European Union-funded programme for food sustainability in the South Pacific told a gathering of women who are members of the group, Women In Agriculture, that though this may be shocking and confusing, given that taro was a staple diet and grown in many parts of the country for ages, “we have not been able to develop it onto a commercial scale”. He was speaking during a ground-breaking ceremony for Morobe Women in Agriculture at Poahom, outside Lae recently...
Farmers learn about getting new sweet potato varieties from polycross nursery
Farmers can get new varieties of sweet potato from hybrid seeds which are generated through randomised crossing of existing varieties in their gardens. The National Agricultural Research Institute’s (NARI) Outreach and Liaison Officer Elick Guaf told participants at a sweet potato farmer training in Lae last week that this technology can help them generate varieties with the quality they desired...
How Papua New Guinea villagers survived the 1997 drought and frosts
In 1997, a major drought and series of frosts seriously affected many people in Papua New Guinea (PNG), the western Pacific and eastern Indonesia. This was one of the worst droughts to affect PNG over the past century. The other big droughts occurred in 1914 and 1941, with the 1997 event arguably the most severe of the three. The drought, and the repeated frosts at high altitude, had a major impact on many aspects of villagers’ lives in much of PNG, particularly on their food supply. Crop yields were reduced and, in many places, crop production failed completely. Other outcomes included a reduction in the quantity and quality of drinking water and an increase in the incidence of human disease. By the end of 1997, comprehensive field assessments indicated that 1.2 million villagers (almost 40 per cent of the rural population) were suffering severe food shortages, which was life-threatening in some cases...
A paper with the above title by Michael Bourke, first published in Development Bulletin, No 67, 2005, pages 27-29, summarises how the affected people responded and how most survived this crisis. The paper draws on a number of published papers by the author and colleagues, including Allen (2000), Allen and Bourke (2001), Bourke (1999), Bourke (2000), and a series of 17 papers published in the Proceedings of the PNG Food and Nutrition 2000 Conference (Bourke, Allen and Salisbury, eds 2001).
The entire paper is available with the DIDINET editor (Seniorl Anzu email@example.com). Development Bulletin can be ordered from the Development Studies Network, Australian National University, Canberra (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Posted 1:13 PM by Luigi
Antioxidants in pandanus
From Dr Lois Englberger.
Eretii Timeon from Kiribati, a student working on her Master’s Degree in Food Science at the National Chia-Yi University in Taiwan, has come upon a very exciting topic. She states: “I am focusing on antioxidant capacity of three different cultivars of Kiribati pandanus paste, in comparison to Taiwan pandanus fruits, leaves and roots. My analysis is based on antioxidative potency (AOP), free radical scavenging and conjugated diene hydroperoxide contents determination.”
This is a ground-breaking area. Antioxidants include a range of many substances, including carotenoids (beta-carotene), vitamins C and E, flavonoids and other phenolics, sulphur compounds (as in garlic, onions, and leeks), and other elements and compounds. Recent research shows that antioxidants are very important for their health benefits, for example in relation to protection against cancer, cardiovascular disease, and accelerated aging. The Island Food Community of Pohnpei is also presently exploring the possibilities of having dried banana and pandanus products analyzed for antioxidant activity, namely at the New Zealand Institute for Crop and Food Research based in North Palmerston, New Zealand (NZ) and Lincoln, South Island (NZ).
Eretii explains that she first came to the idea of researching pandanus after she came upon Dr Lois Englberger’s work on carotenoid content in different pandanus varieties of Kiribati, Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia. She formerly worked as an assistant nutritionist in the National Nutrition Centre at the Kiribati Ministry of Health.
Posted 1:05 PM by Luigi
Dwarf Coconut Palm Trees Originally from PNG Found in French Polynesia
From Pacific Magazine, March 10, 2006
Tahitipresse reports that a research team headed by Dr. Roland Bourdeix of the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development recently discovered on the Leeward Island of Raiatea three varieties of miniature coconut palm trees originally from Papua New Guinea.
Their discovery by Dr. Bourdeix and two researchers from the French Polynesia Rural Development Department—Taraina Pinson and Daniel Teriipaia—immediately raised a question as to how the coconut palms arrived on Raiatea. The answer may mean the palm trees are older than originally thought, Dr. Bourdeix suggested.
Their discovery also prompted the researchers to call for the creation of repositories for preserving older varieties of coconut palm trees and the traditional knowledge associated with them.
In scientific and botanical circles, the French researcher said, one question whose answer has remained unanswered and mysterious for a long time is: Were these "Haari Papua" coconut palm trees originally from Papua New Guinea introduced in what is today French Polynesia several hundreds of years ago by ancient Polynesians? Or were they introduced only 100 or 150 years ago by European discoverers? Up until now, researchers have tended to side with the second hypothesis, he said.
But the discovery of the three varieties of the Haari Papua coconut palm on Raiatea may refute that theory, said Dr. Bourdeix, who works for the research center known by its French acronym of CIRAD. The abundance of this type of coconut palm would indicate that its arrival in French Polynesia from Papua New Guinea was not accidental, he said.
The introduction of this coconut palm obviously did not occur simply by an occasional voyager bringing one or two seeds with him, according to Dr. Bourdeix. Instead, he continued, at some point in history there was an organized collection of several different varieties of coconut palms in Papua New Guinea. Those varieties were then introduced in what is today French Polynesia, probably Raiatea rather than the island of Tahiti, he reasoned.
But the European discovery of Raiatea occurred after that of Tahiti and Raiatea is known as the cradle of Polynesian culture within the Pacific's Polynesian Triangle. Such elements, Dr. Bourdeix said, thus reinforce the hypothesis that it could have been Polynesians rather than Europeans who introduced these coconut palms from New Guinea in this sector of Pacific Islands.
However, a definite conclusion is still difficult to make. Scientists led by Dr. Bourdeix continue to seek any information concerning the history of the "Haari Papua" in French Polynesia.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Posted 2:36 PM by Luigi
ATSE Crawford Fund Fellowship
The ATSE Crawford Fund Fellowship was established in 2002 with the generous support of Dr Brian Booth AM FTSE. The aim of the Fellowship is to provide further training of an agricultural scientist from a selected group of developing countries whose work has shown significant potential. The training will take place at an Australian agricultural institution and will emphasize the application of knowledge to increased agricultural production in the Fellow's home country.
The Fellowship will be offered biennially to an agricultural scientist below the age of 35 years who is a citizen of, or who is working in, one the following countries: Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, East Timor, Federation of States of Micronesia, Fiji, Laos, Marshall Is, Nepal, Niue and Tokelau, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Is, Tonga, Tuvalu and Kiribati, Vanuatu, Viet-Nam.
Copies of the terms and conditions and the nomination form are available on the Crawford Fund website http://www.crawfordfund.org/index.htm.
Posted 2:33 PM by Luigi
Noni cultivation in Palau
KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, March 6) — Several Taiwanese companies are interested in expanding the Noni Palau Farm, saying that the country’s environment is "very impressive" and can produce quality noni. Officials of Chia Meei Group, Kuang Chuan Diary Ltd., Poplar Co. Ltd. and ITAI Engineering & Construction Co. visited Palau recently to look into the possibility of a partnership with the Ngaremlengui state for potential expansion of the local noni market which will be promoted in Taiwan. The companies said they have been very impressed with Palau’s environment, which they described as still "unspoiled, uncontaminated and unpolluted." The group said they are serious in their interest in expanding the partnership with Ngaremlengui and will carry out a feasibility study right away regarding investments in Palau for noni farming and processing. Chia Meei Group, Kuang Chuan Diary Co. and Poplar Co. Ltd. are leading juice and food processing companies in Taiwan. ITA’s activities are focused on engineering and construction.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Posted 2:56 PM by Luigi
Solomon Islands Smallholder Study published
From Mike Bourke.
In 2004, AusAID commissioned a study of smallholder agriculture in the Solomon Islands by a 11 person team. The results of that study have now been published in five volumes. The title of the study is: Solomon Islands Smallholder Agriculture Study.
Posted 1:49 PM by Luigi
Protesters want university to give up taro patents
By Associated Press.
HONOLULU (AP) _ Hawaiian activists, farmers, students and others staged a protest today to demand the University of Hawaii give up patents on several lines of Hawaiian taro plants genetically enhanced by crossbreeding. The patents require farmers who use the three varieties of taro to pay licensing fees to the university and to let officials onto their property to study the plants. Farmers may not sell the seeds. Ania Wieczorek is a spokeswoman for the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. She's said it would be up to the scientists who own the patents to revoke them. Taro is used to make poi. Some Native Hawaiians consider the taro a sacred ancestor, linking them to the soil.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Posted 1:43 PM by Luigi
Commercial cassava cultivation in Fiji
By fijivillage, Mar 4, 2006
The Bose Ni Turaga is now calling on all cassava farmers to put in more effort in planting cassava for commercial purposes.This comes after the 215 chiefs approved a proposal which was brought up by one of the chiefs to manufacture cassava flour.The chief who declined to be named said that experiments have shown that cassava can made into flour and therefore such a venture can be undertaken if farmer increase their produce.The governing body of the VLRA is expected to finalizing the proposal soon before a submission is taken to up to government.
© Copyright 2003 Fijivillage.com
Posted 1:33 PM by Luigi
Coconut genetic diversity
Assessing genetic relationships among coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) accessions using inter simple sequence repeat markers
R. Manimekalai (a) and P. Nagarajan (b)
(a) Biotechnology Section, Central Plantation Crops Research Institute, Kasaragod, India
(b) Centre for Plant Molecular Biology, TNAU, Coimbatore, India
Scientia Horticulturae Volume 108, Issue 1 , 16 March 2006, Pages 49-54
Abstract. Thirty-three coconut accessions from a world-wide coconut collection at the International GeneBank in India were analyzed using inter simple sequence repeat (ISSR) markers with 19 primers flanking the simple sequence (microsatellite) repeat regions. Total of 199 ISSR markers were scored, of which 154 were polymorphic. These markers were used to estimate the genetic similarity among accessions using Jaccard's similarity coefficient. Similarity matrix was used to construct a dendrogram and principal coordinate plot to show genetic relationships among accessions. Similarity values ranged between 0.526 and 0.855 and the least similarity was found between Nicobar tall (NICT01) and chowghat orange dwarf (COD). In the dendrogram and principal coordinate plots, coconut accessions from Southeast Asia, South Asia and South Pacific formed separate groups and this grouping was generally in accordance with their origin and pattern of dispersal of coconuts from its centre of origin.
Posted 1:21 PM by Luigi
Vanuatu sandalwood competes with Indian product
Source: Port Vila Presse – Vanuatu. 21 February 2006
Recent field surveys of natural stands of sandalwood in Vanuatu have uncovered a range of varieties that possess exceptional oil qualities.
The main survey was carried out in 2004 by local and Australian experts on six islands in Vanuatu – Malakula, Santo, Moso, Erromango, Tanna and Aniwa – in order to quantify morphological and genetic variation.
The survey was also intended to domesticate the good quality trees for expanding plantings to meet international standards for sandalwood oil.
This new development opens the way for local communities to make a greater contribution to the sandalwood industry through planting superior varieties.
The sandalwood oil industry also stands to benefit through future access to a consistent supply of quality oil which is required for developing premium branded products.
Individual sandalwood trees, known scientifically as Santalum austrocaledonicum, were assessed and wood core samples collected from nine populations on the six islands. A total of 28 percent of trees sampled in the two northen islands produced a natora oil meeting the international standard because they have as content more than 41 percent of a-santalol and more than 16 percent of b-santalol. The selected trees from the remaining southern populations had a mean of 31 percent of a- and b-santalol.
The survey now places Vanuatu in second position behind the indian sandalwood, Santalum albam in the world market.
The Santalum austrocaledonicum is mainly found in Vanuatu and Mare island in New Caledonia compared to Sandalum yasi in Fiji and Tonga with poor quality oil.
Last week, there was a wokshop organized by the department of forestry and James Cook University (Cairns, Australia) in Port Vila, to educate and encourage farmers to produce the high quality sandalwood oil.
For full story, please see: www.news.vu/en/business/Forestry/060221-Vanuatu-Sandalwood-competes-with-Indian-product.shtml
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Posted 2:06 PM by Luigi
Rain damage to taro could cut poi supply in Hawaii
From the Honolulu Star Bulletin.
Torrential rains -- more than 8 inches in a 24-hour period last week -- as well as pests have pounded taro crops on Kauai's North Shore, a source of a third to a half of the state's poi. Bino Fitzgerald, head of Hanalei Poi Co., predicts a shortage of poi throughout the state. But Eric Enomoto, treasurer for poi distributor HPC Foods Ltd., said it is too early to tell what last week's rains will do to the crop three months from now.
What that means as graduation and wedding season quickly approaches has yet to be seen, Enomoto said. "It's like any other vegetable crop," Enomoto said. "Long periods of continuous rainy conditions are going to affect the crop more" than a one-time event.
A rainy season in Hanalei has a large impact on poi in Honolulu, as state figures put 72 percent of Hawaii's taro coming from Kauai. And Hanalei Valley is the site of half and two-thirds of the crop grown on Kauai, Fitzgerald estimates.
Fitzgerald's Hanalei Poi has already stopped selling poi over the Internet, once the source of 10 percent of the company's sales. And it has also refused to fill individual orders to ensure it has a steady supply of poi for Big Save, Wal-Mart and other major local retailers, Fitzgerald said.
HPC Foods, meanwhile, which manufactures and distributes the Taro brand poi from taro grown across the state, is also starting to see the effect of the rains on crops bought from Kauai growers, in the quality of taro being picked, Enomoto said.
But don't count the taro out. The resilient plant could make a comeback with a little help from Mother Nature.
"What is important now is what kind of weather we have from here on," Enomoto said. While frequent rain could damage poi sales and distribution for more than a year, he said, dry, sunny weather will help the taro fields recover quickly, perhaps in time for peak poi season.
Taro has a 12- to 14-month growing cycle, but it takes only one to two days for a picked taro plant to become poi and to make it to a supermarket's shelves. The entire crop, from newly planted to nearly full-grown plants, has been damaged by the rain, which also helped spread a variety of pests, including pocket rot (a disease that forms pockets of rotting tissue in the corm), leaf blight and apple snails. So tourists are not the only ones looking for some sunshine.
"We're hoping for a period of good weather ... where the taro can recover," Enomoto said, adding, "Periodic floods are part of the process."
Fitzgerald says that what makes this year different from previous flooding winters is the lack of people actually farming taro. While poi has become more popular, taro farmers are growing older, and younger generations of potential farmers are finding work in higher-paying industries. And it is becoming more expensive to stay in business. Important tools including fuel, fertilizer, plastics and other materials are rising in price, while property taxes increase across the state.
"We're driving out farmers from agriculture," Fitzgerald said.
To survive, Fitzgerald said he is not taking on any new big accounts. Instead, he plans to market poi as a niche, gourmet product, where the focus is on quality rather than quantity.
"We've got to take care of our local people and local markets," he said.
Posted 1:53 PM by Luigi
The Island Biodiversity Programme of Work
From Island Business. By Asterio Takesy, Director, South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
An exciting new initiative for island biodiversity will be the focus of a major international gathering in Brazil later this month. The Pacific will be strongly represented at the Convention on Biological Diversity 8th Conference of the Parties (COP 8) in order to highlight the importance of progressing the Island Biodiversity Programme of Work (IBPOW). Our region is sending a message to the world that island biodiversity is special and that islands need to be managed differently.
The programme of work recognises that all islands and small islands developing states (SIDS) in particular, rely on biodiversity for sustainable development, have close links between culture and environment, have special concerns and vulnerabilities, limited land area, high levels of endemism (i.e. unique animals and plants) and high coastal and marine biodiversity. As I outlined in my last column, the Pacific's success in progressing our biodiversity priorities has again been the result of commitment, leadership and also partnerships. In getting recognition of the needs of island biodiversity, I congratulate previous Pacific representatives to COP meetings on the efforts they have made in progressing the interests of the region and conserving island biodiversity.
Specifically three individuals, as well as their countries, have made a major commitment to progressing this effort since 2004: Joel Miles of Palau, Nenenteiti Teariki-Ruatu of Kiribati and Ana Tira'a of the Cook Islands. I also thank many others who have been involved. They have been consulting and informing in their respective countries, and with other countries in the region, to reflect a true Pacific perspective. Along with many other Pacific states, they have provided input into the island biodiversity dialogue and strategically identified opportunities to progress our biodiversity issues.
Teariki-Ruatu, Tiraa and Miles represented the Pacific at the initial technical experts' group on island biodiversity that drafted the current programme of work. In terms of partnerships, SPREP and its member countries have worked closely with The Nature Conservancy, the University of the South Pacific and other members of the Roundtable for Nature Conservation in the Pacific, to get input and to start to identify how we can work together to support implementation. Much of the meeting preparation in terms of input and development of the programme of work has been made possible with New Zealand government assistance.
SPREP believes that the Island Biodiversity Programme of Work is potentially one of the most significant new sources of financial and technical support for the implementation of national biodiversity priorities and actions. It is also a platform for a stronger island voice within the Convention on Biological Diversity and related international negotiations-and it strengthens the political and partnerships between governments and civil society, as well as between small islands and countries with islands. The SPREP meeting, our governing council of all Pacific islands countries and territories and the metropolitan members, affirms that biodiversity fundamentally underpins island well-being, productive lifestyles and livelihoods; and acknowledges that the rate of loss of species in the Pacific is currently among the highest in the world.
The 2005 SPREP meeting commended the proposed new Island Biodiversity Programme of Work, recognising the contribution it will make to support the region in pursuing the goal of significantly reducing the rate of loss of biodiversity. The Island Biodiversity Programme of Work (IBPOW) is relevant to Small Islands Developing States but it is also relevant to developed countries with islands, such as New Zealand, Australia, France and Japan. In addition, it offers a way for our region to have dialogue with islands outside our normal political and geographical sphere. The overall goal of the IBPOW is to reduce island biodiversity loss by 2010 at global, regional and national levels. This is consistent with the region's goals as articulated in the Pacific Action Plan for Managing the Environment.
The programme is based around five themes critical to island biodiversity: conservation; sustainable use; addressing threats; access and benefit sharing of island genetic resources; and increasing capacity and resources to implement the programme. At COP 8 we will also be launching a two-year campaign with the theme of 'Island Life'. This will support the implementation of the IBPOW and raise the profile of biodiversity in the region. Through it, SPREP would also like to acknowledge the vision of our leaders on island biodiversity to foster the involvement of communities and particularly community champions, and to work to catalogue action on island biodiversity in our region. We hope that others will join us in this important initiative and continue to support our leaders and member countries.
Agrobiodiversity Weblog: For discussions of conservation and sustainable use of the genetic resources of crops, livestock and their wild relatives.