A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
PAPGREN coordination and support
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
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Wednesday, April 05, 2006
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
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