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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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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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