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?



    Sunday, April 30, 2006

    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.

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