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

  • CTA
  • SPC
  • CEPaCT

     genebank locations
    Click on the thumbnail to see a map of the locations of Pacific genebanks. Click here to download a regional directory of genebanks in the Pacific, including information on their location, contact details and holdings.

    PAPGREN partners

    Mr William Wigmore
    Director of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture
    Department of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 96
    Cook Islands
    Tel: (682) 28711-29720
    Fax: (682) 21881
    Email: cimoa@oyster.net.ck

    Mr Adelino S. Lorens
    Agriculture Pohnpei
    Office of Economic Affairs
    P.O. Box 1028
    Pohnpei 96941
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Tel: (691) 3202400
    Fax: (691) 3202127
    Email: pniagriculture@mail.fm

    Dr Lois Englberger
    Island Food Community of Pohnpei
    Research Advisor
    P.O. Box 2299
    Pohnpei 96941
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Email: nutrition@mail.fm

    Mr Apisai Ucuboi
    Director of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forest
    Koronivia Research Station
    P.O. Box 77
    Fiji Islands
    Tel: (679) 3477044
    Fax: (679) 3477546-400262
    Email: apisainu@yahoo.com

    Dr Maurice Wong
    Service du Developpement Rural
    B.P. 100
    Tahiti 98713
    French Polynesia
    Tel: (689) 42 81 44
    Fax: (689) 42 08 31
    Email: maurice.wong@rural.gov.pf

    Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
    Head, Research Section
    Division of Agriculture
    Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development
    P.O. Box 267
    Tel: (686) 28096-28108-28080
    Fax: (686) 28121
    Email : agriculture@tskl.net.ki; Beenna_ti@yahoo.com

    Mr Frederick Muller
    Ministry of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 1727
    Majuro 96960
    Marshall Islands
    Tel: (692) 6253206
    Fax: (692) 6257471
    Email: rndsec@ntamar.net

    Mr Herman Francisco
    Bureau of Agriculture
    Ministry of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 460
    Koror 96940
    Tel: (680) 4881517
    Fax: (680) 4881725
    Email: bnrd@pnccwg.palaunet.com

    Ms Rosa Kambuou
    Principal Scientist PGR
    NARI Dry Lowlands Programme
    Laloki Agricultural Research Station
    P.O. Box 1828
    National Capital District
    Papua New Guinea
    Tel: (675) 3235511
    Fax: (675) 3234733
    Email: kambuou@global.net.pg

    Ms Laisene Samuelu
    Principal Crop Development Officer
    Crops Division
    Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries & Meteorology
    P.O. Box 1874
    Tel: (685) 23416-20605
    Fax: (685) 20607-23996
    Email: lsamuelu@lesamoa.net

    Mr Jimi Saelea
    Director of Research
    Department of Agriculture and Livestock
    P.O. Box G13
    Solomon Islands
    Tel: (677) 27987

    Mr Tony Jansen
    Planting Materials Network
    Kastom Gaden Association
    Burns Creek, Honiara
    P.O. Box 742
    Solomon Islands
    Tel: (677) 39551
    Email: kastomgaden@solomon.com.sb

    Mr Finao Pole
    Head of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture & Forests
    P.O. Box 14
    Tel: (676) 23038
    Fax: (676) 24271
    Email: thaangana@hotmail.com

    Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
    Head of Research
    Department of Agriculture & Rural Development
    Private Mail Bag 040
    Port Vila
    Tel: (678) 22525
    Fax: (678) 25265
    Email: flehi@hotmail.com

    Other links

    Other CROP agencies
    Forum Secretariat
    University of the South Pacific

    Pacific biodiversity
    Biodiversity hotspots
    Breadfruit Institute
    Hawaiian native plants
    Intellectual property rights
    Nature Conservancy
    WWF South Pacific Program

    Other Pacific organizations
    Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific
    Micronesian Seminar
    Te Puna web directory

    Pacific news
    Cafe Pacific
    CocoNET Wireless
    Island Directory
    Pacific Islands News
    Pacific Islands Report
    Pacific Islands Travel
    Pacific Time
    South Pacific travel
    Time Pacific

    Interested in GIS?



    Wednesday, April 05, 2006

    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
    Tanna Lamlu Taro
    Erromango Ipota Yam
    Epi Burumba Yam
    Ambrym Endou Yam
    Malekula Brenwei Yam
    Santo Pessena Taro
    Malo Avunamalai Yam
    Ambaé Lolosori Taro
    Pentecost Metaruk Taro
    Vanua Lava Lalngétak Taro

    All these villages were visited at least once during the second semester of 2005 and meetings were organised to present the project and to describe its objectives and activities.


    The project selected and hired in march 2005 (via CIRAD in France) two PhD candidates: Julie Sardos, a molecular biologist, student a the university of Montpellier and Barbara Bouchet, ethnologist, student at the university of Strasbourg. B. Bouchet resigned three months after her arrival in Vanouatou and was replaced by Sara Muller, geographer, student at the university of Strasbourg, who arrived in Vanouatou in November 2005. J. Sardos went to Montpellier in December 2005 to conduct the molecular fingerprinting of the genetic resources that were collected in the 10 villages. She will return in December 2006. The two PhD candidates are employed locally by VARTC and are strengthening the institution capacities.

    Thanks to the project budget, VARTC has also employed a local counterpart to the project coordinator, Roger Malapa, who obtained his doctorate from the university of Rennes in June 2005. A third PhD candidate, Charly Zongo (a biochemist at the university of New Caledonia) will be recruited in 2006 to complete the project team. The department of Agriculture has also assigned to the project two officers in charge of the propagation and distribution of planting material: Tari Molisale based in Santo, is responsible for six islands located in the north and Jeffrey Lavah based on Efaté is responsible for the other four islands.


    On average, the project team spent about a week in each of the selected villages and these visits were conducted during June and December 2005. Local varieties and traditional knowledge associated to those were collected. The information gathered is compiled into a database (excel format) with 1080 entries (accessions) presented in appendix of the report.

    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.

    Visits of experts

    The project benefited from 4 visits of experts in 2005 :

    • Annie Walter (IRD) in June, scientific backstopping in social sciences,
    • Doyle Mckey (CNRS) in Nov-dec, scientific backstopping in diversity studies,
    • Jean Leu Marchand (CIRAD) in Nov-dec, backstopping to CIRAD scientist,
    • Anton Ivancic (University of Maribor) in Dec-jan, scientific backstopping in participatory taro breeding.

    Regional collaboration and dissemination of results

    The Pacific Agricultural Plant Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), a regional network on crop genetic resources coordinated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community held its annual meeting in USP, Santo, Oct 26-29th and the project (Roger Malapa) took this opportunity to present the activities undertaken in Vanouatou to the participants. A web site has been created http://www.agrobiodiversite.org/, it can be visited and materials can be downloaded. More information will be put on line in the near future. T-shirts have been printed with the project logo ‘ol rus blong yumi ol i fiuja blong yumi’ and those of MQAFF, FFEM, CIRAD and distributed in the ten villages to thank people for their outstanding collaboration

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