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?
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Posted 7:32 PM by Luigi
Confusion Grows Over Taro Patent
Julia Norton-Dennis - firstname.lastname@example.org (KGMB9 Radio)
Taro, is not just a sacred native Hawaiian plant. It's a Hawaiian ancestor.
"The main reason why we're here is to protect our kupuna," said Noe Goodyear-Kaopua, who works at H?lau K? M?na Public Charter School.
"One of our first kupuna being Haloa, so that's the kalo, the kalo is the elder sibling of Hawaiian people," she added.
But, the Hawaiians believe their ancestor is being threatened by modern science.
The University of Hawai'i's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources has been awarded a patent for a new breed of taro.
"So, we're drawing a line in the sand, and we're saying university you have crossed over that line. You are going no further," said Hawaiian activist Walter Ritte.
Hawaiians oppose any genetic modification of their native taro.
"I'm really against it," said Palala Harada, a student at Kanuikapono Public Charter School on Kaua'i, "because in our belief system, we believe that haloa is very sacred to us and that we should care for it as an elder rather than just a plant." "To us, there's a spirit that comes with all things Hawai'i or Hawaiian," Harada said.
And the Hawaiians built a rock alter on the lawn of Bachman Hall at the University of Hawai'i Saturday, to demonstrate their commitment to protect their ancestors, and their opposition to any genetic modification of their sacred plant.
There's some confusion over what the patent is for.
"We are not doing any work on genetically engineering the Hawaiian taros," said Andrew Hashimoto, Dean of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.
The college says it simply combined two varieties of taro, a Hawaiian variety and a Palauan variety, and came up with a stronger plant that resists disease.
"The taro that was the result of this, after various trials, was demonstrated some degree of resistance and that was the concept that was patented," Hashimoto clarified.
When asked if the words "genetically modified" were in the patent, Hashimoto simply answered "no."
The college says it's all a misunderstanding -- one it's willing to discuss with native Hawaiians. "We've tried to inform them, but that perception seems to persist," Hashimoto said.
Posted 2:13 PM by Luigi
Hawaiian traditional knowledge
Danielle Conway-Jones, "Safeguarding Hawaiian traditional knowledge and cultural heritage: Supporting the right to self-determination and preventing the commodification of culture", 48 How. L.J. 737 (2005), 19 pp.
"The purpose of this Article is to promote a Hawaiian-centric view of the protection of traditional knowledge and cultural heritage. This Article supports the proposition that the Hawaiian worldview and narrative are essential to responding to questions regarding the governance, use, and protection of traditional knowledge and cultural heritage."
Posted 2:05 PM by Luigi
The role of Taro in Hawaiian culture
From the Molokai Island Times.
In January of this year, Kauai'i taro farmer Christine Kobayashi and I sent a letter to UH officials demanding the University give up its patents on three varieties of taro. Here, I will attempt to clear up misconceptions about our efforts and explain why Hawaiians object to UH's patents on taro.Nothing in Hawaiian culture is more sacred than kalo. Wakea, the sky father, and Ho'ohokukalani, the star mother, gave birth to Haloa, the first-born. Haloa grew into kalo, the first taro plant. The gods' second-born was man, whose kuleana was to care for Haloa, the elder brother.
This geneology is more than a fanciful story, a 'myth.' Haloa (kalo) is a metaphor for our obligation to malama (reverence and protect) the land and all living things of Hawai'i. Guided by Haloa, Hawaiians prospered for over a millenia. We populated the Islands, caring for and sustained by kalo wherever we settled. Like kalo, our land and waters come from the gods. Throughout history, they were managed by the Ali'i (chiefs) for the collective benefit of our people. The concept of land ownership was introduced by Western business interests in 1848. Hawaiians refer to the subsequent period as 'the Mahele', when foreigners took over our land and carved it up, transforming the gift of the gods into their private property.
As land was bought up for development, and water diverted for plantations and hotels, kalo also suffered. Thanks to the mahele, kalo production and diversity and health have all declined.The University of Hawai'i (UH) says that its scientists will rescue kalo by manipulating its genes and becoming its absolute owner. We see this as a second mahele, a mana mahele, because it involves removing kalo from the collective care of Hawaiians and giving UH complete control over it. UH has already patented three varieties of taro. Farmers who wish to grow these patented taro must 'license' them from UH, and are prohibited from selling, distributing, breeding or conducting research on them. Farmers must also pay UH a portion of their corm sales, and agree to allow UH personnel to enter their property and sample their taro to make sure they are not 'illegally' breeding UH's "property."
UH scientists also say they will save kalo by manipulating its genes in laboratories. Have they been successful? Despite their claims, the answer is no. Years of gene-splicing has not produced any improvement in taro. This failure is the main reason UH's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources agreed to a moratorium on genetic manipulation of Hawaiian taro last spring (though gene-splicing of Chinese taro continues).
Experienced taro farmers have criticized UH's patented taro varieties, which were developed by simple cross-breeding. (Hawaiians have practiced cross-breeding for centuries and never patented the progeny.) Oahu taro grower Ken Cook tells us they are 'flat tires,' their initially higher yields 'deflating' after several seasons of cultivation. Cook's associate, Paul Reppun, says they are not significantly more disease-resistant than other types of taro. Kauai'i taro farmer Christine Kobayashi tells us that Pa'lehua, one of the patented varieties, makes poor-tasting poi.While we believe that UH administrators and scientists have good intentions, sadly, they lack the mana to understand that genetic manipulation and patents are a second mahele that descecrates kalo and everything it means for Hawaiians. And it hasn't worked, either.
We have no objection to UH scientists breeding taro. But they must consult with Hawaiians to ensure their practices don't violate Haloa. This they have not done. Instead of patents, for instance, they could discuss with Hawaiians the possibility of obtaining Plant Variety Protection certificates for new taro varieties which permit farmers to conduct their own breeding and research while prohibiting commercial use by others. Instead of genetic manipulation, they could use marker-assisted breeding and other advanced techniques.In the end, however, we all must realize that kalo is not to blame for its decline, and high-tech attempts to "improve" it will likely continue to fail.
UH must realize that patents on taro are an abomination and must be relinquished immediately. Kalo can only be saved by restoring the soil and streams and culture which has nourished it throughout our history. This will take political will and courage on the part of UH officials - standing up for kalo against powerful development interests, for instance. And it will require renewed dedication and effort by all of us to strengthen Haloa.
Posted 2:02 PM by Luigi
Sight and Life Team Film Nutrition Video in Pohnpei
Sight and Life, a humanitarian initiative of the DSM Nutritional Products Ltd. based in Switzerland, has just visited Pohnpei from 10-27 April, 2006, to film a documentary about the nutrition problems in Micronesia and efforts underway for alleviating these problems. Their visit was coordinated by the Island Food Community of Pohnpei.
Dr. Klaus Kraemer, head of Sight and Life, and Mr. Thomas Breisach, deputy head of the DSM Nutritional Products communications section, made up the DSM Nutritional Products team. They were in Pohnpei from 21-27 April, 2006. Ulla Lohmann, filmmaker, and her camera assistant Markus Hain, engaged as consultants, were in Pohnpei from 10-27 April, 2006.
The purpose of the film is to develop a documentary about global nutrition problems, including micronutrient deficiencies and nutrition- and lifestyle-related chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Dr. Kraemer pointed out that Pohnpei is an example of a country having the double burden of malnutrition, the problem of micronutrient deficiency such as vitamin A deficiency, and the problem of overweight and chronic diseases. He said, ”No one would expect that on an island in the Pacific that there are the nutrition problems of both the developing and industrialized countries.”
Over half of Pohnpei children have vitamin A deficiency, a disorder leading to increased infection and mortality. Coupled with this, there are serious problems of obesity and chronic diseases in Pohnpei, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, leading to higher rates of mortality and great suffering among families and individuals.
The group filmed the beauty spots of Pohnpei, including the lush Pohnpei landscape, historical site of Nan Madol, water scenes, and cultural events, first portraying aspects of the paradise concept that many people in other parts of the world have about life on a Pacific island.
The team then filmed aspects of the real-life situation relating to food, nutrition and health, and efforts to improve the nutritional problems. These included the Pilot Farm in Madolenihmw led by Pohnpei Agriculture of the Economic Affairs, the Mand Traditional Foods for Health project and Planting and Weight Loss Competition led by IFCP, Mr. Sei Uemoto and his plans to develop increased marketing of Karat banana and other local foods, the Youth to Youth project with Class 4 of Mand Elementary School, Pohnpei Library Week along their theme of “GO LOCAL” and the vitamin A supplementation program led by the Pohnpei Department of Health.
Sight and Life has provided on-going assistance for many years to the Federated States of Micronesia, including: research on the nutrient content of local island foods, and vitamin A awareness materials, such as posters and the recent video titled GOING YELLOW, which has often been shown on Channel 6 local television. This was prepared last year 2005, as a project initiated and supported by Sight and Life, in conjunction with the Island Food Community of Pohnpei and produced by Micronesian Seminar.
Adelino Lorens, Chairman of IFCP and Pohnpei Chief of Agriculture, warmly welcomed the team to Pohnpei, during a special luncheon held for the team along with IFCP board members on Wednesday 26 April, 2006, at the Pohnpei Agriculture office in the Botanical Garden. He thanked the Sight and Life team, on behalf of IFCP and all its partner agencies.
Thanks are extended to the agencies providing assistance to the Sight and Life visit including the Pacific German Regional Forestry Project, for providing transport.
Lois Englberger, PhD
P. O. Box 2299
Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941 FM
Tel: 691-320-8639 Fax: 691-320-4647
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Posted 1:45 PM by Luigi
Betel nut shortage in Saipan
SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, April 27) – If you are one of those who have been scouring island supermarkets and grocery stores since Monday for betel nut but failed to get any, you are not alone. Local betel nut chewers are frustrated to no end because Saipan has run out of betel nuts. Northern Marianas College-Cooperative Research Extension and Education Service agriculture consultant Isidoro Cabrera said the shortage is caused not so much by the bud rot disease that has killed hundreds of betel nut trees on the island but by a possible delay in the shipment of betel nuts from neighboring islands. But not to worry, Cabrera said, as over 10,000 betel nuts are expected from Yap and same number from Pohnpei. A sales lady from a supermarket in Koblerville confirmed this, saying that their stocks of the produce would be replenished today.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Posted 8:48 PM by Luigi
Fruit processing in Kiribati
The following message was sent by Betarim Rimon in Kiribati to Lois Englberger. They both agreed to share it more widely...
As part of sharing information process, Kiribati has approved our fruit processing project that was very much inspired by your pandanus research. The expected mill be a pilot one and it’s implementation will be only to test run the machines and fine tune them so it reaches maximum performance and also to see if processing local fruits namely pandanus, breadfruit, local fig fruits, giant taro and even coconut toddy. FAO has assisted us in providing guidelines and other important considerations before we actually go into it.
As for funding, total funding is AU$206,000 and Kiribati, with the financial help of Taiwan, has provide 50% of funding while the Centre for the Development of the enterprises (CDE based in Brussels) had agreed to donate the other 50%. Only recently that we received information from CDE that they have changed their mind and therefore could not provide anymore their 50% contribution.
Even then, we have now secured $103,000 from local funding (Taiwan assistance) and we are now going to start our project with only this 50%. This would mean a downscaling also by 50%. Partners in the project are our Ministry, the Ministry of Commerce and the Development Bank of Kiribati.
Content of the project is to begin with the pandanus, breadfruit and banana. We are aiming at a number of products like baby foods, juice and snacks. We are now working closely with the Techso company of Australia in getting the right machine for this purpose. We are not looking at offshore markets, we will begin with local market first. If the project is successful, then other arrangements like privatizing the mill or tendering it to the private sector, or expanding it into a government owned company. All these optional arrangements will be determined during the course of the project.
I hope this information is interesting and thanks for your remain interest in our pandanus. We will be very grateful if you other inputs from your end.
Mr Betarim Rimon
Senior Project Officer and FAO NC for Kiribati
Project and Planning Office
Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development
PO Box 234
Republic of Kiribati
Emails: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org (preferred when travel)
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Posted 3:30 PM by Luigi
Pacific PGR is Spore: Pandanus, duruka, nuts
The latest issue of CTA's Spore has a number of stories about PGR in the Pacific.
Gene bank for pandanus
The islanders of Nui have agreed for an EU-funded Secretariat of the Pacific Community project to establish a gene bank for pandanus trees. Nui is the island in Tuvalu with the largest number of pandanus varieties and the Developing Sustainable Agriculture in the Pacific project aims to ensure that all of them feature in the nursery. Pandanus is a valuable crop because it can be made into a shelf stable cake which can then be used as a base for puddings and baby foods as the glycemic index is very low. It also extrudes into fat and makes puffed snacks — better than importing the potato equivalents, not least because it contains vitamin A.
Duruka proves a hit overseas
Duruka (Saccharum edule), a crop grown in parts of the Pacific Islands, is gaining popularity overseas, according to the manager of a Fiji food canning company. “Last year the company exported 2,000 cartons of canned duruka.” The plant, known as pitpit in Papua New Guinea, is actually the flower of wild sugarcane. The Fiji company packs duruka into brine-filled 400 g cans and exports them to Australia, New Zealand and the USA. An asparagus-like delicacy which is creamy in colour, duruka is normally cooked in coconut cream and served as a vegetable, often with fish. In 2004, farmers in Fiji supplied 7,548 bundles of duruka valued at $15,096 (€12,750). The main season for duruka is from April to June. It takes about 6 to 8 months for the plant to mature after planting.Food Processors Fiji Ltd. PO Box 2302, Government Bldgs, Suva Fiji. Fax: +679 337 0519. Email: email@example.com.
Pacific farmers enjoy nut boom
Farmers in Vanuatu are cashing in on demand for a nut that can be eaten by sufferers of nut allergy. Allergies to peanuts and tree nuts are among the most common food allergies, affecting about 1% of the population in developed countries. Sales of organically grown Canarium indicum nuts (known locally as nangai), to both overseas and domestic markets are booming. Exports have risen sharply over the past 5 years from a few dozen kilos to a current rate of more than 300 t. Principal destinations include Australia, Japan, Hawaii, New Zealand and the USA, where nangai nuts are eaten raw or roasted, and the oil used as an emollient in hair care, bath and suncare products. More recently, nangai nut oil has been selling in export markets as a topical treatment for arthritis. On the island of Pentecost, coconut-frond baskets of nangai nuts are loaded into the hold of the passenger aircraft that calls in three times a week, to be flown south to the capital Port Vila. Larger quantities are sent down on the inter-island trading ships.
Domestic demand has also increased following promotion of the nuts in local hotels and shops — so much so that farmers are working flat out to supply it. The boom comes as the value of other agricultural exports — copra, coffee and cocoa — has crashed. Not only are nangai nuts economically attractive but growing them makes ecological sense too. Canarium indicum is one of the oldest domesticated species in Melanesia and is a fast-growing forest tree. It does well beneath a natural canopy or in a typical food garden clearing, where the sapling can get established while bananas, climbing yams and more are tended all around.
Posted 3:11 PM by Luigi
News from SPC
The Land Resources Division Newsletter, Volume 2 - March 2006, can be viewed and downloaded from the following webpage. Please click on link to access newsletter http://www.spc.int/lrd/lrd_newsletter.htm. Among others, there are articles on:
Posted 2:45 PM by Luigi
Commodity information from CTA
From Judith Francis of CTA.
We have uploaded three new folders that are of interest to the ACP region. I encourage you to invite your staff, colleagues, students, policy makers and other stakeholders to make use of the information on the site. Summaries are provided below.
The ACP Group of States needs to adjust the approach to agricultural production, marketing and distribution to be able to compete in national, regional and international markets. Traditional commodities such as banana, coffee and sugar are no longer assured of guaranteed prices and ready access to international markets. How then should the ACP region respond? Commodities, traditionally considered as food security crops e.g. cassava are now being looked at in a different light. Can scientists assist the countries in making informed decisions to improve efficiency, cost effectiveness, quality and competitiveness?
To view the entire dossier go to
To read the lead article on cassava go to
To view the cassava links, go to
To read the lead article on sugar go to
To view the sugar cane folder, go to
To view the banana links go to
To view the coffee links, go to
ACP countries are encouraged to consider the imminent threat and strategic options for harnessing biodiversity.
The climate change dossier examines the consequences and explores the S&T strategic response options for adapting to and mitigating climate change for agricultural and rural development in ACP countries.
Available in both English and French
Posted 2:40 PM by Luigi
Exotic history of a tropical treat
March 29, 2006
Many of us enjoy bananas as a breakfast treat or snack throughout the day. For mainlanders, moving to Maui sometimes involves becoming familiar with new varieties, such as the 'apple' banana or cuban red.
But how many of us are familiar with the banana's history as a foodstuff, or the details of its life cycle?
Sonny Fly, 33, an organic farmworker from Huelo, was familiar with much more. "Bananas are grown from keiki, not from seed. The seeds aren't viable that I know of," says Fly. "The tiny black dots in the middle of bananas are the seeds."
Fly admits that he enjoys bananas of the 'apple' and 'silk fig' varieties. He encourages consumers and farmers alike to choose rarer varieties of bananas for their purposes.
"It's important to support local growers with less common banana crops. Since they can't be cross-pollinated, farming rarer varieties of bananas helps the species as well as increasing the selection," says Fly.
He also says that commercially-grown varieties such as Chiquita are not only boring, but vulnerable to disease and climate change. "The farms in Latin America and Africa aren't very careful with the product. It's better to support the propagation of old Hawaiian strains," says Fly.
According to the University of Hawaii-Manoa Department of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources(CTAHR) web index The Farmer's Bookshelf (http://www.blogger.com/www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/fb/index.html), there are five major cultivars of banana currently grown.
Brazilian or apple and Chinese (Dwarf Cavendish) bananas were introduced to the islands in 1855 from Tahiti. Bluefields or Gros Michel bananas were brought from Nicaragua in 1904. The ever-present Williams(Giant Cavendish) and Cocos(Dwarf Bluefields) were also brought over in 1953 courtesy of the CTAHR. Philippine Lakatan bananas arrived on the islands in 1958. The oldest cultivar present in Hawaii is represented by the Hamakua (False Lakatan) and Valery (Robusta), which have been present here for so long that no date is given for their arrival.
Despite the diversity and history of banana proliferation here on the islands, Hawaii does not classify as a self-sufficient banana producer among the 50 states. At current average production levels yielding 10,200 pounds per acre, the state still needs 1,058 more acres of crops for self-sufficiency, according to the CTAHR website.
The English word 'banana' actually comes from the Guinea moniker banema. Although cultivated since ancient times, yellow bananas were virtually unheard of until discovered to be sweet and tasty in their raw state by Jamaican plantation owner Jean Francois Poujot in 1836.
Before that, green and red were the standard colors of ripe bananas and they were never eaten raw but rather cooked in a variety of ways.
In terms of botany, banana plants aren't trees at all, but instead a perennial herb. The stalk dies after fruiting, but other shoots spring from the same source, harvestable approximately one year later. Banana plants are classified as a berry and distant relatives to ginger, turmeric and cardamom. Crops can give fruit for around a century, but current practices involve replanting every 10-25 years.
Nutritionally, bananas boast an amazing plethora of characteristics.
They contain the sugars fructose, sucrose and glucose wrapped up with a dose of fiber. Tryptophan (the sleep-inducing element in turkey) is present in bananas, becoming seratonin in the brain and reducing depression in banana eaters. B-vitamins, iron and potassium are also found in bananas, good for a number of ailments. They are reputed to help mitigate anemia, high blood pressure, diabetes, heartburn, ulcers and hangovers, as well as promote learning and memory.
Bananas are a worldwide culinary phenomenon, finding their way into both sweet and savory dishes from all parts of the globe. In the Western Hemisphere, we're used to bananas as a stand alone snack, as well as in smoothies, cereals, breads, cakes and other baked goods.
Latin American and Caribbean cuisines give them a savory twist by grilling or frying, served as a stand alone entree or side dish. They are also known to use the leaves for cooking purposes, as are Thai, Malaysian, Chinese and other Oriental cuisines.
In Thailand, bananas are popularly served coated in sesame seeds and either barbequed or deep fried. In Malabar, India banana is made into rolls, stuffed with scrambled egg and deep fried. Very much the colonial food, natives of Mauritius are known to enjoy banana fritters and tarts.
So as Mauians enjoy bananas regularly during the day or as an occasional treat, they are urged to remember the elaborate facts about one of our most universal fruits.
PO Box 454, Hana, HI 96713
Friday, April 07, 2006
Posted 8:03 AM by Luigi
Measures to expand agro exports proposed in PNG
By BAEAU TAI, The National, PNG
LACK of investment has limited the opportunities for agriculture productivity in the country, a new report from the Institute of National Affairs revealed.
To resolve the anomaly, the report had recommended four measures that the government must pursue in earnest to expand the country’s agricultural exports.
The report was presented on Tuesday at Crown Plaza by Dr Brent Layton, director of New Zealand Institute for Economic Research (NZIER). The study was funded by the PNG Sustainable Development Programme. The five key export crops covered by the report were palm oil, coffee, rubber, cocoa, and coconut products. The production performance of these commodities since 1975 was compared to performance of the same commodities in Malaysia and Indonesia, using data available from international agencies like Food and Agriculture Organisation, World Bank, United Nations and other sources.
“The lack of profitability on the export crops had come about because the depreciation in the exchange rate has not been fast enough to offset the rise in production costs driven by the rate of consumer price inflation,” Dr Layton said. He said the country’s trade policy had effectively imposed a tax on the production of export crops which had also been a negative factor.
Among the crops, Dr Layton picked out palm oil as a fast-growing industry in PNG. He said in terms of exports since independence, PNG’s palm oil had performed better than that of either Indonesia or Malaysia.PNG’s export volume grew at a compound 10.1% per year compared with 7.8% and 9.8% for Malaysia and Indonesia, respectively. PNG’s performance in terms of production (8.8%) had been slightly better than Malaysia (8.4%) but behind that of Indonesia (11.5%).
The report identified 10 hurdles to agriculture performance in the country, namely, the inadequacy of agriculture research, the poor performance of extension services, the inadequacy of transport infrastructure and hostile macro-economic policy settings and trade policies.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Posted 6:03 PM by Luigi
Black beetle creates havoc with taro
By Emil Adams (SPC), in Island Business.
Taro is a significant source of income for rural families and a lucrative export for the Pacific. It is also an iconic Pacific food. But a shiny black beetle that burrows into taro corms, leaving unsightly holes that lead to rotting, is a serious threat to crops in affected countries. They include Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji.
According to FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) reports that in 2000, Papua New Guinea produced around 332,000 tons of taro of which 30% was damaged by taro beetles with losses of A$45.9 million. In Fiji, the taro industry is worth F$10 million annually with 80% of the taro coming from non-infested areas, mainly Taveuni. However, in 2000, one-third of trial taro plots in infested areas of Fiji suffered beetle damage.
Researchers make progress
Concerted efforts by Pacific plant protection specialists to develop a safe and practical control of the beetle have found that two pesticides, Confidor and Bifenthrin, provide the best prospects. The research is being coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) under the Taro Beetle Management Project. The project is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) with the EU providing funds for research in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and for some activities in Fiji. The University of the South Pacific is also part of the collaboration with the chemistry department carrying out residue analysis and David Hunter of the School of Agriculture providing experimental design and data analysis.
At a project meeting in Suva in December 2005, the Director of LRD, Aleki Sisifa, noted the successes of the past five years. These have resulted in the project being extended by an extra two years after a review by ACIAR.
In the next phase, pesticides will be tested at locations in Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and PNG and residues will be analysed. Combinations of pesticides and biocontrol agents will also be trialled. Sisifa emphasises that the project’s main goal is to develop an integrated crop management package for use by farmers. A critical part of the project is to identify the best ways of transferring the technology to them.
Commenting on the research findings, the project coordinator, Sada Lal said, “We’ve been screening pesticides and assessing dosages and application frequencies.
“Since all pesticides are potentially harmful, we need residue analyses to check whether they’re within acceptable limits.”
“We’re also looking at biocontrol methods,” he added. “For example, in PNG, Dr John Moxon found that applying the fungus Metarhizium anisopliae with Confidor gave consistently good control. But the fungus is expensive to produce and farmers in the Pacific don’t have the resources to do it.” In Fiji and Vanuatu, there have been trials of alternative treatments that can be used to prevent the build-up of resistance to pesticides by the beetles. This will be an important part of maintaining a control strategy.
Enlisting public support
Stopping the movement of the taro beetle is still the best method of containing it. In a campaign targeting travellers to the beetle-free island of Taveuni, billboards, brochures, radio and TV spots have been used to spread the message with a recent survey showing that over 90% of growers were aware of the taro beetle and 80% had learned more about it from the media.
Genebank critical back-up
In the past, there have been attempts to take taro planting materials to Taveuni despite a ban by the Fiji Ministry of Agriculture, Sugar and Land Resettlement. The ban also applies to pot plants, soil and manure.
The main taro variety planted for export on Taveuni is Tausala ni Samoa, but some farmers are keen to grow other varieties. To meet this demand and lessen the likelihood that taro material will be smuggled in, the LRD has established a genebank collection of different taro varieties found on the island at the Coconut Research Centre in Taveuni.
New taro varieties available in tissue culture at SPC’s Regional Germplasm Centre will also be taken to Taveuni for testing and adding to the collection (plants in tissue culture are disease-free and provide the only acceptable method of moving germplasm across borders).
Posted 2:45 PM by Luigi
Vanuatu's Root Crops Project Makes Progress
Summary of the first year's report of the project "Preservation and use of root crops agrobiodiversity in Vanuatu," with many thanks to Dr Vincent Lebot.
This annual report presents the various activities conducted by the FFEM project regarding « The agrobiodiversity of root crops species in Vanouatou » for the year 2005. This project started in February 2005 and will last five years (from 2005 to 2009). The partners of the project are: the Ministry of Agriculture (MQAFF-DARD), the Vanouatou Agricultural Research and Training Centre (VARTC) and CIRAD (in Vanouatou and in Montpellier, France). The partner who is the direct beneficiary of the financial agreement is MAQFF but this Ministry has requested CIRAD to be responsible for the scientific coordination and management of the project with the supervision of a steering committee based in Vanouatou.
The aim of this project is to develop a sustainable system for the on-farm maintenance of root crops genetic resources. The project proposes a dynamic system as an alternative to the traditional on-station conservation of germplasm which, in most cases, has a narrow genetic base. This project is testing the hypothesis that a system that would focus on distribution rather than on concentration, would be much more efficient and better adapted to these species and to the countries in which they are major staple crops (for details, see appendix 1).
The objectives of the project are:
1. To collect and record traditional knowledge associated with the traditional uses for different species of root crops cultivated in Vanouatou and to study socio-economic behaviours of producers and users.
2. To survey and record all cultivated varieties and to study the genetic diversity used in ten different villages (each located on a different island).
3. To identify new varieties aiming at broadening the existing genetic bases and to propose them to producers and users, taking into account their needs and preferences.
4. To conduct participatory assessments of the suitability of the introduced varieties and to attempt to understand why they are accepted or rejected.
5. To develop an information system for the civil society in Vanouatou aiming at discussing and explaining the importance of root crops genetic resources for present and future generations.
6. To elaborate a methodology for the “on farm” preservation and use of root crops species genetic resources which could be implemented in other countries.
The approach is participatory. The launching of the FFEM project was officially done through a workshop organised in VARTC on Thursday February 14th 2005. Agricultural officers and field assistants involved in the project (overall about 20 officers) were invited to debate the practicalities of the various project activities (see list of participants in appendix 2). The director of the Department of Agriculture (DARD) presented an historical review of the numerous attempts to preserve genetic resources conducted in Vanouatou since Independence. Diverse projects funded by FAO/UNDP, the EU, and CIRAD, failed to preserve germplasm on a sustainable manner and risks of on-station (ex situ) conservation of these resources are always a constraint. The director explained why a system that would rather favour on-farm conservation would achieve a lot for Vanouatou and food security.
Participants then discussed the different steps and objectives and a discussion on the choice of the project sites (villages) was undertaken. All participants recognized that this choice was critical and therefore requested that at least one full month was given to them to conduct a survey in their respective areas before making a final decision. Officers accepted to send by letter their final choice once theirs surveys would be completed and not later than May 15th 2005. The final field design of the project was therefore accepted by consensus among participants.
The project experimental design
The choice of the project experimental design takes into consideration the major characteristics of the archipelago. Vanouatou is composed of approximately 80 inhabited islands with ten hosting the majority of the population. Vanouatou is also divided into two major ecological zones (north and south) with an ecological limit crossing the Shepherds, north of Efaté. The choice of the villages was therefore based on their location on the ten islands and in the two different zones. Great care was taken to select five villages with taro as a dominant crop and five villages with yam as a dominant crop so that statistical comparisons could be conducted between the two major agrosystems of the country. For each agrosystem, four islands from the northern part of the country were selected and one from the south.
The final selection of the villages, on each of the ten islands, took into consideration: the fact that each village should be representative of the situation on the island, that it should have an easy access, that local knowledge and cultural traditions should be well preserved and that there are no other major development projects which could interfere with the FFEM project.
The following villages have been selected:
Island Village Cropping systems
These results alone justifies the intervention of the FFEM project in Vanouatou. Considering the state of the art and what is known on this question in the existing scientific literature, this situation is unique in the world. It confirms the remarkable richness of root crops agrobiodiversity in Vanouatou. All these accessions are now in the germplasm collection at VARTC and are being studied at the molecular level in order to obtain an accurate picture of the existing diversity. The first results will be available at the end of 2006. This first part of the work allows the description of the state of agrobiodiversity in the ten selected villages at the beginning of the project and therefore will be used as a reference during the next four years to appreciate the progress made and the achievements realised.
Regional collaboration and dissemination of results
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Posted 9:22 PM by Luigi
Nevsem disagree on Vanuatu sandalwood ban
Source: The Vanuatu Independent, 8 March 2006
The outspoken spokesman for the Nevsem custom movement from Erromango in Tafea province, Jacob Narvot, is condemning the government's ban on sandalwood harvesting.
He voices concern that the three months of harvest given by the government through the department of forestry is the only opportunity for local farmers to cut their timber.
"The government hasn't assisted us local farmers in any way, so why do they want to ban sandalwood when that represents one of our main income sources in the islands?" queries Narvot. "We know what we are doing, so we ask the government to review its policy of banning sandalwood cutting. We cultivate the sandalwood, so the government should not stop us harvesting it", Narvot explained.
He concluded that as the government allows only three months for harvest, local people and farmers rush to cut trees down, and don't care about size of timber. As a result, some of sandalwood trees in South Erromango were totally destroyed.
"We suggest the government concentrate on the issuance of sandalwood licences and leave us to decide what to do with our sandalwood trees."
Narvot is a sandalwood farmer and nursery man who has planted sandalwood also on Efate near Tamanu Beach and Pango. He said he has 1000 seedlings now ready for sale.
For full story, please see: www.news.vu/en/business/Forestry/060308-Nevsem-disagree-on-Vanuatu-Sandalwood-ban.shtml
Posted 9:14 PM by Luigi
Medicinal value of Tahitian noni juice
Source: Best Syndication
Tahitian noni juice drink lowers bad cholesterol and triglycerides - alternative methods to lowering LDL besides statin medicine or medications
The human body needs a small amount of cholesterol to function, but too much cholesterol can cause health problems, including coronary heart disease. Americans spent over $16 billion on statin drugs last year, according to the New York Times.
A recent study has shown that the Tahitian noni juice may lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides in smokers. The sales of the drink have ballooned to over $1 billion after various news agencies reported on the study.
Noni juice is made from a bumpy fruit of the noni plant (Morinda citrifolia). The plants are found in the Polynesian Islands and have a medicinal history among the locals for some 2000 years. Recent research has found that the drink contains high levels of anti-oxidants.
For full story, please see here.
Posted 4:53 PM by Luigi
Island states agree conservation goals
Posted: 29 Mar 2006, Peopleandplanet.net
Leaders from a number of island nations around the world, meeting at the UN biodiversity conference in Curitiba, Brazil, have agreed significant conservation commitments to protect the future of islands.
The President of Palau, Tommy Remengesau, announced agreement on the Micronesia Challenge last night. This aims to protect 30 per cent of near-shore marine and 20 per cent of terrestrial resources on the islands by 2020.
Inspired by its Micronesian counterparts in the Pacific, the Caribbean nation of Grenada pledged to put 25 per cent of near-shore marine and 25 per cent of terrestrial resources under effective conservation by 2020. The Declaration, approved by Grenada’s Cabinet, will lead to a nine-fold increase in the total area of protection in Grenada’s marine environment and more than double protection of its terrestrial environment.
Welcoming the accord, a consortium of environmental agencies, said the world's islands are home to more than 500 million people and represent one quarter of the nations of the world, 16 per cent of the planet’s known plant species and more than half of the world’s tropical marine biodiversity.
Thirty per cent of the world’s coral reefs are severely damaged and, without immediate action 60 per cent may be lost by 2030. Half of the species in the world that have become extinct have been island species. Without immediate action, islands face continued damage to species, biodiversity and human inhabitants’ way of life.
"We intend to be the first in the world to meet our CBD 10 per cent target, and more,” said President Remengesau, referring to the goal adopted by parties to the Convention to effectively conserve at least 10 per cent of each of the world's ecological regions.
He emphasized that Palau is able to make this commitment because of the strong partnerships within Palau, between the National and State governments, and with traditional leaders and local communities. “We have come to Curitiba for partnerships, at every level, that will strengthen our region's and our respective islands’ capacity to meet our conservation commitments."
“Efforts to ensure the health, prosperity and cultural heritage of nations are unlikely to succeed if the ecosystem services on which we rely continue to be degraded,” said Minister Ann David-Antoine from Grenada’s Ministry of the Environment. “Expanding conservation efforts and achieving them through partnerships with the international conservation community and across all regions are required for our sustainable development.”
"For the islands this is a new dimension on how to preserve our fragile reserves for future generations. Our traditional way of conserving has been reawakened through this global concern to protect our fragile resources," said Ratu Aisea Katonivere, Chief of the Macuata community in Fiji, a province of 100,000 people, and home of the world’s third largest barrier reef. “For us, in Fiji, this is about our survival. Our life."
The announcements by Micronesia and Grenada generated enthusiastic responses, including new conservation commitments and actions from New Zealand, Indonesia, Kiribati and others.
The NGO community has promised to provide technical and financial support to help islands meet their commitments. “Islands provide a unique opportunity to expand conservation through global collaboration. To continue the momentum from tonight’s inspiring announcements will require coordination from governments, NGOs, local communities and donor countries to work together for the long-term conservation of these global treasures,” said Nigel Purvis, The Nature Conservancy’s Vice President for External Affairs.
“The Pacific is home to the most vulnerable islands in the world. It’s a great challenge to have a programme that aims for the survival of its rich biodiversity and the fascinating cultures of its people across Oceania,” said Francois Martel, Director of the Pacific Island Program for Conservation International (CI). “Conservation in this region is all about people and their traditional stewardship,” he added.
James Leape, Director General of WWF International, said: "WWF applauds the leadership shown by these governments to address the escalating threats facing the world's coral reefs and island habitats, and urges nations everywhere to support these significant commitments, as their success or failure will have global ramifications."
“Many of the World Conservation Union’s government and NGO members are eager to step up conservation efforts in islands, whose extremely threatened biodiversity is the basis for the livelihoods of millions of people,” said Martha Chouchena-Rojas, Head of the delegation for the World Conservation Union (IUCN). “The launch of this new island partnership, in combination with the adoption of the CBD Programme of Work on Island Biodiversity, will certainly help to lift our game.”
The Micronesia Challenge is a shared commitment by the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the Territory of Guam. Grenada’s 2020 vision is an outgrowth of the successful Grenadines Parks in Peril project.
The Eighth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Curitiba took place from March 20-31.
Posted 3:12 PM by Luigi
Mr Jeffrey Waki submitted a thesis in partiall fulfillment of the requirements for Post-Graduate Diploma in Agriculture Science at UNITECH, PNG in November 2005. Entitled "Morphological variation among noni landraces in Morobe Province, PNG," this includes a draft descriptor list for the species (Morinda citrifolia L.). I can send a copy of the descriptors if anyone is interested.
Monday, April 03, 2006
Posted 7:41 PM by Luigi
Using Technology for Conservation and Sustainable Development
From Dr Gilianne Brodie, PACINET Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A three-day regional workshop focusing on the learning of a specialised software program to assist in identifying plants (including plant varieties or cultivars) and animals was recently held in the Pacific Island region, at the University of the South Pacific, Fiji.
Organised by PACINET, a regional co-operative program between the University of the South Pacific, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Program (SPREP) and the Pacific Biodiversity Information Forum (PBIF), the workshop was aimed at tapping into existing regional knowledge in areas such as crop management, pest species, plant genetic resources and environmental biodiversity so that expertise can be put into a form that is simple and effective for use by others. Regional participants attended the workshop from a wide range of backgrounds. They included postgraduate research students, quarantine officers, agricultural scientists, taxonomists, conservation ecologists, geneticists and information systems specialists.
The workshop focused on learning to use a specialised software program called LUCID which is designed by the University of Queensland’s Centre of Biological Information Technology (CBIT) and allows the knowledge of a particular plant or animal group to be easily transferred to others who need the information.
In opening the workshop, Dr Randolph Thaman, Professor of Pacific Island Biogeography and chairperson of PACINET highlighted the importance of having qualified taxonomists to identify species that could be endangered or extinct in the Pacific and having software like LUCID that would allow the local and international knowledge of a particular plant or animal group to be merged and then communicated effectively to other users.
“I know too far well how important it is to have a good taxonomists, parataxonomists or vernacular scientist nearby who can correctly identify the incredible diversity of taxa (species) that comprises our unique, limited and highly threatened Pacific Island biodiversity inheritance,” said Professor Dr Thaman.
Dr Thaman also said that it was important for students to “keep a foot at a village level, spend time with older men and women, the true indigenous or traditional taxonomists and parataxonomists, the foresters, agro-foresters, farmers, medical practitioner, builder and boat makers and fishers, the endangered taxonomists who often hold the real “keys” for community based biodiversity conservation, terrestrial, freshwater and marine, in our island environment.” He highlighted that the workshop sessions are aimed at tapping into existing regional knowledge and problem solving in areas such as crop management, pest species and environmental biodiversity so that local expertise can be put into a form that is simple and effective for use by others.
LUCID is designed to develop user-focused picture-based multimedia identification keys that allow effective identification and problem solving for Pacific Island agriculturalists, farmers and natural resource managers.
After the three-day workshop PACINET and CBIT will continue to work with participants to produce publishable CDs and outputs that can be used in a range of Pacific Island Countries. Funding is now being sought-after to run a similar workshop, with a quarantine theme, in Samoa.
Posted 7:20 PM by Luigi
Seminar Held on the Traditional Food System of Pohnpei
By Amy Levendusky
On Thursday, February 23, 2006, the Island Food Community of Pohnpei (IFCP) sponsored a seminar entitled, The Traditional Food System of Pohnpei based on the Mand Study. A total of 66 participants attended the seminar held at the Medical Training Room at the Pohnpei State Hospital. The main purpose of the Mand project is to understand the traditional food resources of the community in order to improve health, and to conduct and evaluate a health improvement program using local food resources.
The seminar included the following topics: An introduction to the Island Food Community of Pohnpei, the methodology of the Mand Study, the results for the agroforestry survey done in Mand, the Mand Food List, a dietary assessment, and several health indicators including fasting blood sugar, blood pressure, body mass index, and a dental screening on the children. Community perceptions and attitudes were also discussed. Presenters included Adelino Lorens, Chairman of IFCP and Pohnpei Chief of Agriculture, Kiped Albert, Traditional Leader in Mand, Welsy Hagilmai of COM/FSM Land Grant, Yumiko Paul of Public Health, and Douglas Nelber of the Office of Historic Preservation.
The Mand Drama Club comprised of 5 young girls and 5 young boys from Mand, led by Mr. Rohaizad Suiadi, performed the “Go Local” song during the refreshment break. To conclude the seminar, a local food lunch was served.
The Mand Study is part of an international study led by the Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment (CINE) within McGill University in Canada as part of An International Union of Nutritional Sciences project. The goal of the Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems International Research Programme is to gather data from 12 deliberately diverse case studies (Mand is the 12th case study) of indigenous people in different parts of the world to document the inherent strengths of traditional food systems and to provide evidence that local resources are critical for food security, nutrition and health. Ultimately, the programme’s goal is to influence local, national and international policies for environmental protection of indigenous people’s land and food resources, thus promoting food security and food sovereignty.
The Mand project is a collaborative effort of the Island Food Community of Pohnpei, the Mand Community, Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment, in conjunction with Pohnpei Office of Economic Affairs, Pohnpei Department of Health, College of Micronesia-FSM Land Grant Program, Pohnpei Department of Land and Natural Resources, Pohnpei Environmental Protection Agency, Peace Corps Micronesia, Japanese Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, Emory University, KP Studios, Sight and Life, New Zealand Government, Australian and German Embassies, and Centre for Disease Control and Prevention/UNICEF.
Lois Englberger, PhD
Island Food Community of Pohnpei
P. O. Box 2299
Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941 FM
Tel: 691-320-8639 Fax: 691-320-4647
Posted 6:26 PM by Luigi
Copra shortage in Marshalls
MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, March 21) – The Marshall Islands coconut processing factory is operating at less than 40 percent of its capacity because of a shortage of copra, with the main problem being poor shipping and the lack of processing factory’s involvement in transporting copra, says a detailed review of the copra industry in the Marshall Islands prepared for the Asian Development Bank and the government of this central Pacific nation. “There is presently little confidence in the conduct of the copra trade and in the capability and capacity of shipping services,” the report released this week in Majuro says. The problems of the copra industry — on which about one third of the population of 55,000 depend for their main source of income — were highlighted by a resolution introduced last week to the parliament asking the Cabinet to hike the price paid from its current level of 12 cents per pound. Copra is the product of dried coconut meat that is then milled to produce coconut oil.
Posted 6:22 PM by Luigi
Noni in the Mariannas
SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, March 28) – Tinian Mayor Jose San Nicolas wants to make his municipality the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ agricultural center through the development of a noni industry that will export the world-renowned health product to Japan. Tinian is in the process of developing noni farms that will have an estimated aggregate area of 200 to 250 hectares [494 to 617 acres]. At this stage, some Japanese companies are reportedly already communicating with the mayor's office regarding the purchase of noni products. Dr. Thomas D. Arkle, the mayor's special consultant for resource development, said the island's chief executive sees the worldwide popularity of noni as a health supplement as another revenue generating project for Tinian, notwithstanding the influx of multi-million-dollar casino investments and the possible relocation of Marine troops from Okinawa, Japan, to the island.
Posted 4:44 PM by Luigi
Pohnpei in Eden
The Eden Project is a famous project in England, which is described as a “green theme park” with living Biomes, confirmed by the 2004 Guinness Book of Records as the biggest conservatories in the world. See their website at http://www.edenproject.com. Their goals include helping connect plants, people and places, protecting the environment and biodiversity, and educational, environmental and scientific aims.
The Island Food Community of Pohnpei (IFCP) was invited in January 2006 to provide photographs and a voice recording for contributing to Eden Project’s permanent banana exhibit. Dr Andrew Ormerod, Eden Project’s Specialist in Economic Botany Research and Development, is excited about the Pohnpei Bananas poster, Karat postal stamps and the unique Pohnpei banana varieties. He has asked IFCP that the voice recording be about a minute in length. This should be part of the permanent exhibit so that so that when visitors walk by the exhibit, they would see the photos of Pohnpei bananas and also hear a person from Pohnpei talking about this crop.
Adelino Lorens agreed to talk about the importance of banana to Pohnpeians, how they are grown and consumed, the many non-food uses, and also about some of the unique Pohnpei varieties and why they are special. Erik Steffen of Micronesian Seminar recorded this last Wednesday 22 March 2006, and we are now in the process of sending this to the Eden Project.
We look forward to hearing about the next steps in Pohnpei’s involvement in Eden Project’s permanent banana exhibit. Thank you very much to Dr. Ormerod of Eden Project for involving us and also to Dr. Anne Vezina of the International Network for the Improvement in Banana and Plantain, who mentioned to Dr. Ormerod about the Pohnpei bananas and the possibility of our involvement!
Lois Englberger, PhD
Island Food Community of Pohnpei
P. O. Box 2299
Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941 FM
Federated States of Micronesia
Agrobiodiversity Weblog: For discussions of conservation and sustainable use of the genetic resources of crops, livestock and their wild relatives.