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?



    Monday, June 26, 2006

    Lots of news from Pohnpei

    Various bits of news from Dr Lois Englberger...
    1. Harriet Kuhnlein of the Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment (CINE) was here in Pohnpei to help us with our joint project with CINE, the Mand project. She also is working with FAO on a poster series on indigenous foods. There is one completed one titled International Decades of the World’s Indigenous Peoples Celebrating Diversity in Global Indigenous Food. We were very happy that Karat (banana) was included on this one! Harriet points out that this poster is on the CINE website http://www.cine.mcgill.ca. There is one for celebrating diversity in indigenous food in Asia and one for Africa, and there will be one on Pacific foods.
    2. Dr Mary Taylor has passed on to me an email titled “Green, yellow veg linked to healthier arteries” by News Archives. This provides helpful information to us in the Pacific. The article explains about a new study that shows that a diet rich in green and yellow vegetables could reduce the development of atherosclerosis by almost 40 per cent. This means that these foods provide important health benefits. So what is atherosclerosis? It is the process whereby fatty substances such as cholesterol and calcium form plaque on the inner lining of an artery, causing them to harden. If enough builds up the plaque can reduce blood flow through the artery, and if it ruptures blood clots can form, which can block the flow of blood to the heart and cause a heart attack, or stroke. The article explains that atherosclerosis occurs naturally in humans as part of the aging process, but certain factors including high blood cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes increase the risk. The researchers fed 53 mice a vegetable free control diet, and 54 mice a diet with 30 per cent replaced with freeze-dried peas, green beans, broccoli, corn, and carrots for sixteen weeks. The lead author of the study wrote this: “Increased vegetable consumption inhibits atherosclerosis progression through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory pathways.” The researchers could not identify a mechanism, or indeed the active substances that confer these beneficial effects, but noted that the vegetables contained a variety of micronutrients, such as carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium that are potent antioxidants. Yellow-fleshed banana, giant swamp taro, pandanus and breadfruit varieties and other island foods are also rich in carotenoids and these other substances, so they are also important sources of antioxidants and part of this network of protective substances. If any of you would like more on this, let me know and I can send you the fuller report and source of information.
    3. Mortlocks Taro Documented, Collected, and Promoted, by Amy Levendusky. From May 15 to May 18, 2006, Dr Lois Englberger and Amy Levendusky of the Island Food Community of Pohnpei (IFCP) visited the islands of Ta and Satowan in the Mortlock Islands of Chuuk in order to study and promote the different varieties of Mortlockese giant swamp taro or pula, and other local foods. A total of 32 varieties of giant swamp taro were named, described, and photographed. The local name, any alternate name, stem color, if stem has thorns, corm color, corm size, corm texture, leaf shape, growth rate, and other pertinent comments were recorded. Planting material from 21 varieties was collected and brought back to plant in the taro genebank collection located at the Pohnpei Pilot Farm in Pohnlangas, Madolenihmw, a joint project of Pohnpei Agriculture of the Office of Economic Affairs and IFCP. The corms (or the part that you eat) of 9 different varieties were also collected to prepare as samples for analyzing for micronutrient content in laboratories in Fiji and Switzerland. On May 16, 2006, a workshop was held on Ta to identify the varieties of taro. Over 30 participants from the islands of Ta, Satowan, and Moch attended. Participants were given an important health message about how yellow-fleshed carotenoid-rich varieties of local foods including banana, breadfruit, pandanus and giant swamp taro can protect against vitamin A deficiency, diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, and anemia. A special emphasis was made on the carotenoid-rich Apuch fruit, Crataeva speciosa, which turns very yellow-orange when ripe and grows abundantly on the islands. This fruit was eaten and enjoyed in the past but now is neglected and few are eating it. It was explained that if Apuch fruit could be added to the diet again, especially to the diet of the children, they would receive great health benefits. Participants discussed about the shift from local foods to imported foods such as rice and canned meats. They were excited about starting a campaign to revive the production and consumption of local foods. After the discussing the relationship between local foods and health benefits, the rest of the workshop was dedicated to viewing taro plantlets and discussing the characteristics of the different varieties of taro. This project was supported by Pohnpei State Office of Economic Affairs and funded by the New Zealand Government. A special thanks is extended to Obet Mwarluk, Agriculture Extension Agent on Ta; Juda Amaraich, Mayor of Ta; Helbert Seilo, Rainer Sorryz, and Samuel Sammy of Ta, and Makies Mony of Satowan for providing the information used to document the different varieties of taro and for providing all the planting materials and sample corms. Appreciation is extended to Ryan Teelander, Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) on Ta, Jennifer Salzman, PCV on Satowan, and Adam Gustafson, PCV on Moch, for organizing the participants from their respective islands and in assisting facilitation for the workshop and special thanks too to Rainer Jimmy and Susie Lokopwe, Peace Corps Micronesia, for all their help in organizing this project.
    4. I am happy to share with you about the publication of a new paper titled “Carotenoid content of different edible pandanus fruit cultivars of the Republic of the Marshall Islands” by Englberger L, Aalbersberg W, Schierle J, Marks GC, Fitzgerald MH, Muller F, Jekkein A, Alfred J, and Vander Velde N in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, Volume 19, pages 484-494, 2006. It is available on-line at this website and here is the abstract:
      As Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is a serious problem in the Republic of the
      Marshall Islands (RMI), it is important to identify locally-grown acceptable
      sources of vitamin A. Pandanus fruit, a traditional Marshallese staple food, has yellow-orange coloration suggesting substantial carotenoid content.
      However, few of the many Marshallese cultivars were previously analyzed for nutrient content. Thus, this study was conducted in order to identify
      carotenoid-rich Marshallese pandanus cultivars that could be promoted to
      alleviate VAD. Ethnography was used to select cultivars and assess
      acceptability. Thirteen cultivars were analyzed by two laboratories for ?-
      and ß-carotene and other carotenoids using high performance liquid
      chromatography. The cultivars contained a range of carotenoid levels (21 to 902 µg ß-carotene/100 g), with higher levels in cultivars having deeper
      yellow-orange colored fruit; 10 cultivars had significant levels meeting
      estimated vitamin A requirements within normal consumption patterns. There was excellent agreement between the laboratories’ results. Pandanus has been increasingly neglected in recent years, but is still well-liked and
      considered a Marshallese health food. The promotion of carotenoid-rich
      culturally-acceptable pandanus cultivars could contribute to alleviating vitamin A, micronutrient, and chronic disease problems in the RMI and other Pacific contexts, particularly atoll islands, where pandanus is an important food.
      For those of you who would like a pdf file of this paper, let me know and I am happy to send it. Unfortunately, there are a number of errors in the printed paper, and the journal greatly regrets about that. For example, the captions to Figures 2 and 4 are transposed, so that the preserved pandanus is described as a tree and the pandanus tree is described as preserved pandanus. However, to help correct this, the journal is publishing an Erratum in the following issue, and we are very thankful about that. Thanks again to all of you in the Marshall Islands and elsewhere assisting in this work!
    5. I would like to introduce you to Marilyn Knudson, a graduate student at the University of Guam Micronesian Studies program, who is very interested in pandanus. As part of her course work, she has written an essay titled “Pandanus tectorius in Micronesia: A Brief Overview of its Use and Importance”. She is happy to share it with anyone who is interested. Please contact her at this email address: quokkas3@ite.net. She points out that Father Kayser’s booklet of ethnographic description of pandanus use in pre-World War 1 Nauru is an important resource on the topic and that it is rarely cited. In addition to her first essay on pandanus, she is now involved in writing a second one. Thank you again Marilyn for sharing with us about your first essay and we look forward to your next one too!

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