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, July 31, 2006

    Palau President Elated That UH Has Released Taro Patents

    Pacific Magazine, August 1, 2006

    (Palau Govt PR) - The University of Hawaii (UH) has filed terminal disclaimers with the US Patent Office dissolving all of its proprietary interests in three genetically-enhanced crossbred taro plant varieties.

    After a UH researcher successfully crossbred taro crops from Hawaii and Palau, three strains confirmed resistance to a plant disease called the Taro Leaf Blight (TLB). After patents were granted in 2002, farmers who used the patented taro varieties had to pay fees to the University.

    President Remengesau sent a letter to UH President David McClain expressing relief and appreciation for lifting the taro patents. Now anyone can plant, harvest, trade, and use the three taro varieties without having to pay royalties to UH.

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    Rural development strategy for Solomon Islands

    HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, July 31, 2006) —The Cabinet has approved a Strategic Framework for Rural Development. Minister of National Planning and Aid Coordination Gordon Darcy Lilo, in announcing the strategic framework said, "the Government has placed rural development and a bottom-up approach at the centre of its policy agenda and as such it is important that the Government takes leadership in coordinating rural development activities". Mr Darcy said rural development depends upon a number of coordinated activities in different areas of economic and public policy.

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    Nutrition counseling in Pohnpei

    From Dr Lois Englberger: We would like to share with you the article printed in the July 19-August 1, 2006 Kaselehlie Press (local newspaper) related to our project with the Community of Mand. Thank you all in Mand for your good teamwork and thank you Amy for writing the article! Lois

    Counseling Conducted in Mand on Nutrition and Health

    By Amy Levendusky

    From May 9th through July 13th, Pelihna Moses from Mand and Amy Levendusky of the Island Food Community of Pohnpei (IFCP) spent 6 days in Mand visiting a total of 39 families. Mand families received counseling on vitamin A deficiency, diabetes, and dental hygiene. Counseling was initiated in Mand based on findings from the project entitled, “Pohnpeian Traditional Food for Health”, sponsored by the IFCP. During April through July 2005, vitamin A status in mothers and their children, fasting blood sugar in adults and dental hygiene in children were evaluated.

    Around thirty-one percent of the 57 children (age 2-10 years) tested in Mand were vitamin A deficient. This is over twice the cut-off for a problem of public health significance, which is 15%, showing how serious the problem here is. Lack of vitamin A in the body can cause night blindness, partial or total blindness, it can make respiratory diseases like pneumonia worse, and it can increase the risk of infections especially among children. The mothers of those children found to be Vitamin A deficient, were advised that yellow-fleshed local foods such as the Karat and Daiwang bananas, giant swamp taro, pandanus, ripe mango, ripe papaya, pumpkin, sweet potato, and dark leafy greens such as pele, kangkong, and chaya are high in pro-vitamin A carotenoids (the substance which turns into Vitamin A in the body) and should be eaten everyday. Rice and bread have no Vitamin A or provitamin A carotenoids and should be eaten with Vitamin A rich food. Also fish liver is an excellent source of vitamin A.

    Out of 84 males and 85 females tested for their fasting blood sugar, a total of 41 new cases of possible diabetes were identified. Those people who were found to have high fasting blood sugar levels were advised to eat three balanced meals a day at regular times. They were also encouraged to choose foods low in fat and sugar and high in fiber. Alcohol should also be limited. Along with eating healthy, it is important to exercise at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes each time.

    At the time of the dental screening, it was found that out of 85 children between the ages of 1 to 14, only 3 had healthy teeth. Most children had several cavities, up to 16 cavities per child. The mothers of those children were advised that it is very important to take care of the baby teeth because if they become damaged, it can affect the health of their children’s permanent teeth. They were also encouraged to take their children to the Pohnpei Dental Division to have the damaged teeth treated.

    IFCP thanks the Mand community and our collaborating partners and support agencies, including the Pohnpei Office of Economic Affairs, Departments of Health and Education, Department of Land and Natural Resources, COM/FSM Land Grant, Natural Resource Conservation Service, CINE, CDC, Sight and Life, New Zealand, German and Australian Embassies, the Global Environmental Fund, and Pacific German Regional Forestry Project (PGRFP).

    Lois Englberger, PhD
    Island Food Community of Pohnpei
    P. O. Box 2299
    Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941 FM
    Tel: 691-320-8639 Fax: 691-320-4647
    Website: http://www.islandfood.org

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    Sunday, July 30, 2006

    PNG logging firm slams green groups

    From the Sydney Morning Herald, July 30, 2006 - 12:49PM

    A Malaysian logging company accused of illegally stripping PNG's rainforests has in turn accused green groups of mounting an international slander campaign against it.

    Rimbunan Hijau (RH), the largest logging company operating in PNG, has long been accused of colluding with PNG political leaders to illegally harvest rainforest timber to the detriment of local landowners.

    Stung by the ongoing accusations, RH commissioned Australian consulting firm ITS Global to investigate.

    RH managing director James Lau said at the launch in Port Moresby of ITS Global's latest report that claims by Greenpeace and other green groups that logging companies in PNG were operating illegally were shown to be false.

    The reports showed the forestry industry in PNG played a key role in providing jobs, government revenue and infrastructure such as roads, schools and health posts in PNG.

    "It is high time these green NGO's were held to account for the costs their stunts and unsubstantiated rhetoric have imposed on PNG."

    In March the US-based forestry watchdog Forest Trends said most forestry operations in PNG were illegal and ecologically and economically unsustainable.

    It said corrupt connections between logging companies and PNG's political elite must be broken and forestry laws adhered to.

    Greenpeace, PNG's Ecoforestry Forum and other green groups have accused Asian logging companies of "modern day slavery" in their exploitation of PNG workers in logging camps.
    Other allegations include under-reporting of export log values and the failure of logging companies to provide roads, schools and health posts to landowner communities as promised.

    But PNG's Forestry Minister Patrick Pruaitch said a false case had been made against commercial forestry which operated "in full compliance with PNG laws and regulations".

    Green groups' claims that the environmental heritage of PNG's forests was endangered was ridiculous as only 33 per cent of the country's rainforests had been set aside for commercial use, he said.

    "Are there people who want to say countries like Papua New Guinea should be denied their right to develop their resources like industrialised countries did to raise their standards of living?"

    ITS Global consultant Bill Bowen said his firm's analysis showed "without a doubt the industry in PNG is not operating illegally".

    He was scathing of an earlier report on PNG forestry mandated by the World Bank, saying that study's argument that forestry in PNG was not financially viable was erroneous and "should be pulped".

    The greens' claim that commercial logging in PNG was unsustainable was wrong when PNG was not even utilising the full sustainable cut available, Bowen said.

    Green groups did not have a right to push an anti-development agenda and they must be made accountable for their accusations, he said.

    © 2006 AAP

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    Pounding poi for Uncle Eddie

    By Gordon Y.K. Pang and Lesa Griffith, Honolulu Advertiser Staff Writers

    The pounding went from morning to dusk under the tarp next to the taro patch along Ioleka'a Stream in Ha'iku Valley.

    Some 300 pounds of kalo, or taro, from Maui, Kaua'i and O'ahu were pounded yesterday into pa'i 'ai, mashed taro, then mixed with water to become the poi that will be served today at the funeral service of 'Anakala Eddie Ka'anana.

    "We think that this is the most taro that's been pounded (in one place) in quite some time," said Vince Kana'i Dodge, 49, one of the organizers of the effort. "But this is not for show. This is for love, man. This is for Uncle."

    Ka'anana, for whom the word " 'anakala," Hawaiian for uncle, seemingly always preceded "Eddie," touched the lives of scores of Hawaiians who turned to him as a source of knowledge and inspiration.

    Dodge, who works with youths at the Ma'o Organic Farm in Wai'anae, was one of them. Dodge said Ka'anana was among the first people he saw pound kalo and was always at ease when he did it. These days, Dodge is known for the poi pounders and boards he creates.

    "Look at this — this is the life," he said. "You get together with your friends, new and old, and you make food together. There is definitely something wonderful about making food with your hands."

    Ka'anana died of cancer July 16. He was 80.

    He was raised in the Hawaiian fishing villages of Miloli'i and Ho'opuloa, where he learned to speak fluent Hawaiian, fish, grow kalo and live the life of generations of his ancestors. He left the Big Island at 17, and raised his family on O'ahu, Guam and Wake Island while working as a civilian heavy-equipment operator, first for the military and then the Federal Aviation Administration.

    It wasn't until he retired in the 1980s that young Hawaiians seeking kupuna, or elders, to help guide their fledgling Hawaiian movement turned to the soft-spoken 'Anakala Eddie.

    He taught generations of youths — sometimes for pay, but not always — at Ka'ala Farms in Wai'anae, 'Anuenue School, the Hawaiian language immersion school in Palolo Valley, and at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa's Center for Hawaiian Studies. He also served as a cultural and spiritual adviser for many.

    Several dozen people from those byways of 'Anakala Eddie's life were on hand to help with yesterday's poi-making, as well as the imu cooking on Thursday night.

    Kaipo'i Kelling, 35, met Ka'anana a decade ago when he was studying the Hawaiian language at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa and in need of someone with whom to speak fluent Hawaiian. Eventually, the two spoke of kalo and the role it played in Hawaiian culture.

    Ka'anana later helped Kelling, a teacher at Kawaiha'o Church School, set up a series of kalo patches on his property. Two years ago, Kelling started clearing a lo'i on his property, and Ka'anana paid him a visit.

    "He talked to the water, talked to the trees, said it was going to be a good place," Kelling said, noting that he discovered the property is old taro land.

    It was in Kelling's yard, sitting along the stream next to the lo'i, that Ka'anana's friends gathered for both the cooking and the pounding.

    Peewee Almarza, 37, was among those pounding kalo yesterday as others peeled the tubers with the help of a net, a technique taught by Ka'anana.

    Almarza, who works in different capacities at 'Anuenue, said Ka'anana helped provide spiritual guidance to his family when their 3-year-old son, Maka, was diagnosed with cancer.

    "He gave us a lot of strength, a lot of hope," Almarza said, recalling that Ka'anana would take Maka aside and speak to him privately.

    Two years later, Maka is now about to start kindergarten at 'Anuenue.

    "He really opened up a lot of doors for me," Almarza said. "He made me realize what priorities were: Take care of your family, and everything else will fall into place."

    Ka'anana also had an impact on Almarza's other children, who also attend 'Anuenue.
    Wainani Almarza, 17, remembered visiting Miloli'i with her class, with Ka'anana accompanying them.

    "He explained to us how he grew up, and what he used to do. We know it's going to be different at school without him."

    Kalena Almarza, 16, said Ka'anana was well-respected at the school. "It was nice how, when he was talking, everybody would just go silent," she said.

    Peewee Almarza said the 'Anuenue Na Koa football team is dedicating its season to the memory of 'Anakala Eddie.

    Puaonona Stibbard, 22, and Kahiau Wallace, 23, are the site coordinators of Ka Papa Lo'i O Punalu'u, a 2.5-acre project sponsored jointly by Kamehameha Schools and the UH-Manoa's Center for Hawaiian Studies that is designed to teach youths about lo'i production and culture.

    Both said Ka'anana was the first person they ever spotted pounding kalo and that much of what they learned about taro came from Ka'anana — first as students and later when they sought an adviser.

    Stibbard said Ka'anana's pounding technique was smooth, adding, "It was as if the kalo didn't stick to his hands."

    Wallace said Ka'anana also taught them a Hawaiian motto: "He ali'i ka 'aina he kauwa ke kanaka," which means "The land is chief and the people are its stewards."

    Ka'anana's point was that "when you take care of the land and treat it like the chief, it will take care of you," Wallace said. "But when you forget about the 'aina and its worth, then you're lost."

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    Expert calls for kava clinical trial to establish safety

    From Breaking News on Supplements & Nutrition - Europe

    28/07/2006- The only way to convince European governments on the safety and efficacy of kava kava and to restore the industry in the South Pacific is to conduct clinical studies and look further into the mechanism, says expert on herbal safety Dr Matthias Schmidt.Dr Schmidt, a consultant on herbal drug safety and member of the International Kava Executive Council, is currently preparing a study plan for a clinical trial. He spoke to NutraIngredients.com in the light of UK authorities’ decision to continue banning the herbal, announced this week.

    “The only way forward I can see is to provide a clinical trial in the area,” he said. Although Dr Schmidt’s study plan is aimed at fully restoring the German market, he said: “This will send a tremendous signal to other countries”.

    He praised the depth of the reports used to form the opinions of the UK’s MHRA and FSA, noting just a small number of errors, but said the decision, is “a typical story of benefit of the doubt – and benefit of the doubt is not a scientific question.”

    “MHRA’s motto is to safeguard public health, but the question is whether such a ban may actually have the opposite effect.”

    Since kava kava was banned in Germany in 2001, Dr Schmidt said he has become aware of cases where people have turned to alcohol or Valium to deal with occasional anxiety and anxiety caused by specific situations, now that they cannot take kava to calm themselves.
    “The ban on kava has left a gap that has not been filled,” he said.

    The UK kava kava market differs from Germany in that licensed products under the remit of the MHRA were intended for bladder discomfort. There may be alternatives approaches for this indication, but unlicensed products aimed at anxiety disorders and foods fall within the scope of the FSA.

    In Germany and the US there is not the same duality within the herbals sector. Kava kava is indicated for anxiety disorders.

    Although the German authorities ruled the ban on kava kava was inappropriate because the risk of toxicity was low, there has been no proof of efficacy in the indication, for stress-related anxiety, so no products have been licensed to date.

    Dr Schmidt explained the problem is that the indication no longer exists in modern diagnostic tools – that is, in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4 and the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases.

    That is not to say that people do not suffer from it, but it is seen as a chronic disorder requiring treatment of 12 weeks or more. Short-term approaches do not exist.

    Dr Schmidt’s study plan is at an advanced stage, but as a pharmacist he has need of clinical assistance. Discussions are underway with University professors with an interest in the area.
    “The timescale is not known, but we should start fairly soon if we can get the financing,” he said. The funding requirements are projected to be in the region of €1 to €1.5m.

    He added that there is a need for research on the mechanism of action of kava toxicity, stressing that the toxicity is not obligatory (bound to occur in every instance of ingestion) but idiosyncratic – that is, it occurs in rare and unpredictable cases but by no means all.

    “Any food will have some risk of allergy,” he said.

    He said that worst-case scenario is just one case of liver toxicity caused by kava for every 60 to 125m consumers. The rate of spontaneous liver disease exceeds the rate of kava allergies.

    “Do we have to protect consumers from something you cannot prevent? The same thing might happen to them tomorrow just by chewing on a carrot.”

    Kava kava is a herb from the pepper family with a long history of use in the Pacific Islands, and more recently in Europe, the US and Australia as a herbal medicine and in foods such as tea, cereal products, smoothies and spirit drinks. The European ban on kava has had a “terrific impact” on the South Pacific herb industry.

    While Vanuatu was fortunate in being able to switch to other cash crops, Fiji, a major kava exporter, saw 30 to 35 per cent of its kava revenues wiped out. Dr Schmidt reported visiting the island in 2004 and seeing first-hand evidence of many small existences wiped out when the markets “broke down without any warning in 2001”.

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    Thursday, July 27, 2006

    UK ban on kava kava in food to remain

    2006-07-27 - Food Standards Agency (UK)

    The FSA announced the decision following a review of the latest scientific evidence by the independent scientific advisory committee, the Committee on Toxicity (COT).

    The COT concluded that the use of kava kava in food would continue to pose a risk to health.
    The sale and import of kava kava in foods was banned in 2003 after the COT took the view that it was linked to liver damage.

    The Agency said at that time that it would formally review the ban at any time, if significant new data supporting the safe use of kava kava came to light. It also made a commitment to review the latest information two years after the original ban was made.

    A public consultation seeking evidence on whether the ban should remain in place was carried out by the Agency last year, and the consultation received information on additional cases of liver damage possibly associated with the use of kava kava outside the UK since 2003.

    The COT looked at evidence submitted to the Agency and a review of the latest scientific literature on kava kava in December 2005.

    It concluded that there was insufficient evidence to change its opinion that the consumption of kava kava in foods may lead to severe liver toxicity.

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    Wednesday, July 26, 2006

    PGR News from PNG

    This is a selection of PGR-related news the latest edition of DIDINET. DIDINET stands for ‘Didiman/Didimeri Network’ or a network for scientists and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector. It aims to network and inform the participants and keep them abreast of issues of common interest. Contributions can be sent to the Editor (seniorl.anzu@nari.org.pg), PNG National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI). Disclaimer: NARI is only facilitating this forum, and is not responsible for the content of the newsletter.

    Agriculture development plan gets priority

    The development of a National Agriculture Development Plan (NADP) will be a major task the Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) will undertake in the next two months, Minister Sasa Zibe said in Lae.

    Speaking to staff of the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) at the Sir Alkan Tololo Research Centre last week, Mr Zibe said agriculture is the most important sector in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and holds the backbone of the national economy. He said this sector must be properly guided so that the majority (87%) who depends on it can have an improved livelihood.

    Mr Zibe said PNG has a wide diversity of resources such as land, climate, crop varieties, people, and traditional knowledge which must be captured in a framework with good policies and planning. He said NADP is an important framework that should be put in place to guide and direct the utilisation of these resources and provide broad based opportunities for all.

    Mr Zibe, who was recently sworn in as the new DAL minister, said his visit was part of a scoping session in which he was visiting a number of key agricultural institutions and organisations, commodity boards, agencies and other stakeholders of the agriculture sector to seek assistance and advice on the development of this overdue plan. He said some organisations already have their organisational plans in place so the task now is to bring them into totality and develop one for the entire sector. He congratulated NARI for its medium term strategic plans and development oriented programmes, and banked on it to contribute immensely towards the development of NADP.

    While briefing Mr Zibe on NARI’s plans and research and development initiatives, Director General Dr Raghunath Ghodake said NARI has documented a number of development issue and concepts and plans for the country and the Pacific region. Much of these were centred around adaptive research, knowledge creation and information exchange initiatives - based on science, technology and innovation - with emphasis on export driven agricultural growth and import replacement. They also present challenges and opportunities which can be capitalised for a better national framework.

    Dr Ghodake said PNG has huge export potentials in spice crops such as vanilla, pepper and cardamom and food crops such as taro and cassava which PNG should take advantage and coordinate. He said imports on rice, wheat, vegetables and livestock (meat) can also be reduced with guided policies and planning with better investments. Other areas of importance highlighted were plant genetic resources; management of the potato late blight disease; domestication and commercialisation of traditional crops such as galip; natural resource management and livestock research and development. Most of these are under NARI’s mandate for which the Institute will be keen to discuss during the development of the NADP.

    Meanwhile, Mr Zibe said about 15 donor agencies and a number of other stakeholders have already indicated to work on the NADP.

    Participants learn from sweet potato workshop

    The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research is currently funding five projects on research and development of sweet potato in Papua New Guinea. The projects cover aspects of cultivar evaluation, pest and disease impact, soil fertility management in the highlands and marketing.

    A two-day workshop was held last month at Jais Aben near Madang for participants in the various projects to learn about the other projects.

    The workshop ran five sessions with a half-day field trip to one of the sites being used for cultivar evaluation in a World Vision project. The workshop was organised by Mike Bourke and Tracy Harwood (Australian National University, Canberra), Sharryl Ivahupa (World Vision, Madang) and Sergie Bang and Elick Guaf (National Agricultural Research Institute, Lae). Participants came from many locations in PNG, various places in Australia and Bogor in Indonesia.

    PNG party to regional PGR meet

    Papua New Guinea (PNG) recently participated at a pioneer regional workshop on genebank management in Suwon, Korea. The Agricultural Technical Cooperation Working Group meet, which attracted some 30 experts from 13 different APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) member countries, elaborated on effective genebank management for an integrated system on sustainable conservation and utilization of Plant Genetic Resources (PGR) in APEC Member Economies.

    The workshop, entitled: “Effective Genebank Management for an Integrated System on Sustainable Conservation and Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources (PGR)” was hosted by the Rural Development Administration (RDA). It was in line with the priority action of Global Action Plan (GPA) for Sustainable Conservation and Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA) and of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that developed from a meeting in Leipzig, Germany in 1996. The aim of the workshop was to:

    a) Exchange information and share knowledge and practices regarding genebank management among APEC member economies;

    b) Identify the needs for developing skills and training for effective genebank management;

    c) Help in resolving particular genebank management problems and constraints, specifically at improved use of conserved material;

    d) Enhance skills to analyze more efficient and cost effective management of genebank; and

    e) Help participants to make informed decisions on appropriate germplasm management strategies.

    PNG was represented by the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI). Director General Dr Raghunath Ghodake presented a paper titled: “Genebank Management for An Integrated System in Sustainable Conservation and Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources in Papua New Guinea”, which highlighted the status of and various initiatives undertaken to manage, develop and utilise PGR in PNG - not only as a basic research resource for socio-economic development but also as a national heritage and environmental concern.

    Formal PGR conservation is carried out by organizations that are dealing with agricultural research and conservation of biological resources, especially in the areas of food crops and major crop commodities. NARI is conserving the genetic diversity of sweet potato, taro, banana, yams, cassava, aibika, traditional vegetables, fruits and nuts in field collections. The rich diversity of these crop species is conserved and maintained in National Germplasm Collections in the field at various NARI programme locations. Dr. Ghodake pointed out that the genetic resource base in the country has been declining because of a number of factors, including commercialization, environmental degradation and poor conservation and management practices. There is a dire need to improve on all aspects of conservation, management and utilization of genetic resources. Concerted efforts are also needed in improving information management systems, skilled human resources, additional financial resources, and appropriate policies and strategies.

    Sweet potato looks promising at Porgera trial

    Sweet potato (kaukau), the staple food crop of the Highlands, is in focus at Porgera in the Enga Province with the screening of early maturing varieties introduced by the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI). Twelve varieties introduced by NARI’s Tambul (Western Highlands Province) based High Altitude Highlands Programme during last year’s World Food Day at Porgera have looked promising with better yields.

    With assistance from the Sustainable Development Department of the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV), trials have been conducted starting in October 2005 and the first harvest was made last month. PJV Agriculture Officer Samuel Mandiu said the aim was to determine early maturing varieties with acceptable yields for adoption in the Porgera valley. Mr Mandiu said four varieties have been identified as good in terms of yield, shape and size. Another four will undergo similar screening at different locations while the remaining four varieties were discarded.

    Those that were identified for adoption are PRAP 546, BARU, NAGA MAPU and an unidentified variety while the other four requiring further screening are AGRO, WBS 010, LIPU LIPU and PRAP 506.

    Mr Mandiu said cuttings from the first trial have been distributed to two model farmers - Maria Kensary and Wendy Tero from Paiam and Suyan villages respectively - to multiply for further distribution to other farmers in the valley. This was in line with PJV’s objective of pursuing sustainable development and increasing food security.

    This initiative of the giant mining company also includes educating farmers on sustainable gardening practices like maintaining soil fertility and reducing erosion on steep slopes.

    Porgera is situated at an altitude of about 2700 meters above sea level while its lower plains lie below 2000 meters, and like many other high altitude areas, Porgera is prone to frost and hail. Unlike many other districts of the province, agricultural activities are restricted to environmental constraints such as very high rainfall, seasonal flooding/ landslips and very steep slopes - common features of Porgera.

    “We’re slowly getting there. Hopefully with continuous trials and determination from the locals, backed by PJV and NARI expertise, problems of food security and crop sustainability will become things of the past,” Mr Mandiu said.

    Vanilla crop finds place in Pacific

    Vanilla is not a difficult crop, it is a different crop; different from all the plants farmers in the South Pacific region are used to growing. This is the introduction to a photographic handbook for vanilla farmers by one Piero Bianchessi, and something six vanilla farmers from the New Ireland Vanilla Growers Association (NIVGA) found out at the University of Vudal last month. The six, led by NIVGA vice president Michael Watangas, were at the university’s Kairak Vudal Resource Training Centre (KVRTC) to attend a week-long training workshop on curing techniques of the vanilla crop.

    Facilitators Willie Maso and Gerard Samik also took the participants through vanilla husbandry techniques used for propagation, mulching, pruning, looping, weeding, flower induction and others. The New Irelanders were also shown demo sites at the Vudal block and Vudal farm and visited Pacific Spice and the Organisation for Intellectual, Spiritual and Cultural Association (OISCA). Mr Watangas said the ultimate goal of NIVGA was to have a central curing centre in Kavieng for all nine local-level governments of New Ireland. Mr Wantangas said although the association was still a long way from achieving this, the training they had received had been an eye-opener. He said that they would return to their province well equipped to pass on the knowledge they had gained to the other 10, 000 NIVGA members.

    “Although we had some idea about growing vanilla, we wanted to receive some certifiable training from people specialised in this field and we are grateful to the university for offering such workshops,” he said.

    Mr Watangas thanked Vice Chancellor Professor Philip Siaguru and KVRTC manager Hosea Turbarat, who he said made the association aware of such training at the university when they met with New Ireland Governor Ian Ling-Stuckey in Kavieng this year. (Post Courier, July 20, 2006)

    Cassava descriptor list documented

    A “Cassava Passport Data and Minimum Descriptor List” has been documented by the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI). The Crop Descriptor list (No. 2), 2005, was put together by NARI’s Plant Genetic Resources Programme at Laloki outside Port Moresby.

    More information on this documentation can be obtained from the Research Programme Leader Ms Rosa Kambuou (rosa.kambuou@nari.org.pg). To order a copy, contact the NARI Information and Publications Unit (narihq@nari.org.pg or seniorl.anzu@nari.org.pg).

    NARI currently maintains 77 accessions of cassava at Laloki.

    Sweet potato and cassava review published

    A brief review paper on sweet potato and cassava in PNG has been published:

    Bourke, R.M. (2006). Recent research on sweet potato and cassava in Papua New Guinea. Acta Horticulturae (ISHS): 703:241-246.

    The PDF file can be viewed at: http://www.actahort.org/books/703/703_30.htm

    List of unpublished agricultural reports and papers

    A list of unpublished reports and papers on agriculture in Papua New Guinea (PNG) was compiled by a three-member team (Mike Bourke, Matthew Allen and Janine Conway). This was done as part of a component of the ACNARS (Australian Contribution to the National Agricultural Research Systems) project under AusAID, which had some of those unpublished research papers put into press. That work is described in a paper by Conway, Allen and Bourke in the Proceedings of the 2000 Food and Nutrition Conference (ACIAR Conference Proceedings No 99, pages 476-481).

    The list contains about 400 items. The papers contain a wealth of information and should be consulted prior to any new research projects. A copy of this list may be useful to those involved in research and development in PNG. It is available from Dr Mike Bourke (mike.bourke@anu.edu.au) of the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.

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    Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands

    This 816 page book edited by Craig R. Elevitch covers 80 of the most important native and traditional agroforestry trees. Order your copy here.


    Contributors v
    Foreword: A treasure trove for people who like plants­—Isabella Aiona Abbott vii
    Foreword: Traditional trees—a key to well-being and prosperity—Roger R. B. Leakey ix
    Preface xiii
    Acknowledgments xv
    Acacia koa (koa) and Acacia koaia (koai‘a) 1
    Agathis macrophylla (Pacific kauri) 29
    Aleurites moluccana (kukui) 41
    Alphitonia zizyphoides (toi) 57
    Areca catechu (betel nut palm) 69
    Artocarpus altilis (breadfruit) 85
    Artocarpus camansi (breadnut) 101
    Artocarpus heterophyllus (jackfruit) 111
    Artocarpus mariannensis (dugdug) 127
    Bruguiera gymnorrhiza (large-leafed mangrove) 139
    Barringtonia procera (cutnut) 153
    Broussonetia papyrifera (paper mulberry) 171
    Calophyllum inophyllum (kamani) 183
    Cananga odorata (ylang-ylang) 199
    Canarium indicum var. indicum and C. harveyi (canarium nut) 209
    Casuarina equisetifolia (beach she-oak) and C. cunninghamiana (river she-oak) 227
    Citrus (citrus) and Fortunella (kumquat) 243
    Cocos nucifera (coconut) 277
    Cordia subcordata (kou) 303
    Endospermum medullosum (whitewood) 317
    Erythrina variegata (coral tree) 329
    Fagraea berteroana (pua kenikeni) 345
    Flueggea flexuosa (poumuli) 355
    Gliricidia sepium (gliricidia) 367
    Gnetum gnemon (gnetum) 385
    Hibiscus tiliaceus (beach hibiscus) 393
    Inocarpus fagifer (Tahitian chestnut) 407
    Intsia bijuga (vesi) 425
    Mangifera indica (mango) 441
    Metrosideros polymorpha (‘Ohi‘a lehua) 465
    Metroxylon amicarum, M. paulcoxii, M. sagu, M. salomonense,
    M. vitiense, and M. warburgii (sago palm) 491
    Morinda citrifolia (noni) 513
    Musa species (banana and plantain) 531
    Pandanus tectorius (pandanus) 563
    Pometia pinnata (tava) 591
    Pterocarpus indicus (narra) 607
    Rhizophora mangle, R. samoensis, R. racemosa, R. x harrisonii
    (Atlantic–East Pacific red mangrove) 623
    Rhizophora apiculata, R. mucronata, R. stylosa, R. x annamalai, R. x lamarckii
    (Indo–West Pacific stilt mangrove) 641
    Samanea saman (rain tree) 661
    Santalum austrocaledonicum and S. yasi (sandalwood) 675
    Santalum ellipticum, S. freycinetianum, S. haleakalae and S. paniculatum (Hawaiian sandalwood) 695
    Syzygium malaccense (Malay apple) 715
    Terminalia catappa (tropical almond) 727
    Terminalia richii (malili) 747
    Thespesia populnea (milo) 757
    Tournefortia argentea (tree heliotrope) 775
    Common names index 787

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    Karat in Eden

    From Dr Lois Englberger.

    I would like to share with you about the new article out on Karat (banana) in the Eden Project’s Friends Magazine, pages 6-7 of the Summer 2006, Number 23 issue. This was written by Andrew Ormerod, of the Eden Project who has taken a special interest in Karat.

    The article is near the front of the magazine, closely following Queen Elizabeth of England and her visit to the Eden project! What prestige this presents to Karat!

    The article presents photos of the four FSM postal stamps of Karat and discusses Karat’s unique characteristics and rich nutrient content and health benefits, as well as about the Island Food Community of Pohnpei and its aims and projects. The article also presents a map of Pohnpei along with a world map, to help international readers learn about Pohnpei’s location.

    For those of you who are interested, I am happy to send you an electronic copy of the magazine and article (3 MB).

    You may recall an earlier message to you this year. The Eden Project is a famous project in England, which is described as a “green theme park” with living Biomes, confirmed by the 2004 Guinness Book of Records as the biggest conservatories in the world. See their website at http://www.edenproject.com. Their goals include helping connect plants, people and places, protecting the environment and biodiversity, and educational, environmental and scientific aims.

    So, for those readers who are on island, let us take care of Karat, planting and caring for it, if we have that option, and also taking the opportunity of purchasing it. There are now several beautiful bunches available for sale at and near Ellen’s Market!!

    A special thank you again to Andrew for giving this international coverage to Pohnpei’s unique Karat banana!



    Lois Englberger, PhD
    Island Food Community of Pohnpei
    P. O. Box 2299
    Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941 FM
    Tel: 691-320-8639 Fax: 691-320-4647
    Website: http://www.islandfood.org

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    Tuesday, July 25, 2006

    Taro workshop in Hawaii

    The Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden is proud to announce, in partnership with Hui Kalo Moku o Keawe and Know Your Farmers Alliance, a horticultural event focused on the staple crop of the Polynesian people: taro. This day long event will feature top kalo growers and researchers from the Big Island as well as outer island guests. The morning will be filled with educational activities and seminars such as taro nutrition, pest and disease remedies, taste tests, and variety identification. After lunch our experts will prepare and plant a new mala 'ai (dryland kalo field) with all 80 known Hawaiian varieties and answer questions about plant, growing, and harvesting taro. Guest speakers include Edna Baldado, Susan Miyasaka, Jerry Kononui, Jeri Ooka, Shelly James, and Manuel Rego.

    The event takes place on Saturday, August 26th from 8a.m. to 3p.m at the Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden, located in Captain Cook, 12 miles south of Kona. Registration for the workshop is $20 per person.

    To register for the event please call the garden at (808) 323-3318.

    Early registration is suggested as limited space is available.

    Participants are encouraged to bring sick taro plants so our experts can identify the problem and suggest remedies. Participants should bring a sack lunch.

    If you are interested in taking part in preparing the field site for planting taro please consider attending our garden work day on Saturday, August 19th from 8:30a.m. until noon. We will be preparing the soil, applying the fertilizers, and installing the irrigation for the new field to be planted the following week. Participants should come to the garden prepared to work.

    Kipahulu 'Ohana
    PO Box 454, Hana, HI 96713
    Fax 248-8802

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    Sunday, July 23, 2006

    Seeds sown for new Maori garden

    Waikato Times (NZ), 21 JULY 2006, By MARY ANNE GILL

    The rain came down in buckets at Hamilton Gardens as a carved gateway, stage one of the city's $2 million pre-European Maori garden, was opened yesterday.

    And that was a good sign Maori had got it right with the design, Nga Mana Toopu spokesman Wiremu Puke told the crowd that turned up for the official opening.

    The Te Parapara Garden, when completed in three years, will be the first to recreate traditional Maori gardening practices.

    The project aims to reconstruct Maori garden features and carved structures that were present along the Waikato River between 1840 and 1850.

    The gateway symbolises the passing through from the current to the traditional world and is based on the story of a chief who went into the spiritual world to find his wife who had been kidnapped.

    Te Parapara takes its name from an ancient pa that existed by the river not far from the Hamilton site. The challenge now is to raise the money needed to build the garden. Te Parapara Garden Trust, comprising trustees Mavora Hamilton, Margaret Evans, John Gallagher, Anaru Thompson, Dave Samuels, Hekeiterangi Broadhurst and kaumatua Hare Puke (patron) now have the job of working with key sponsor Wel Energy Trust to advance the project.

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    Head of SPC says 'stop logging today'

    Solomon Islands has been warned to confront the stark reality that its forests are nearly logged-out. The head of the Pacific Community, Dr Jimmie Rodgers, says the Solomons should stop log exports today.


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    Plant trees to protect Guam's soil and water

    By Joseph Tuquero, Pacific Daily News.

    Due to erosion and sedimentation into one of Guam's major drinking water sources, Fena Lake, certain southern villages are experiencing little or no water, which we all know is quite an inconvenience.

    Much of this erosion is the effect of large masses of wild grassland fires. One basic solution, of course, is to stop wildland arson, possibly through increased enforcement. Another solution, where the community can get involved, is to restore these grasslands with trees. Trees do not burn as easy as grassland. Some trees, upon establishment, become somewhat fire-proof by surviving fires, restore soil quality and produce seeds that germinate quickly when exposed to heat from fires.

    Under the U.S. Forest Service, Guam Forestry addresses these erosion problems through the Forest Stewardship Program. The purpose of the FSP is to assist private forest landowners keep these lands in a productive and healthy condition for the landowner and the island community, and to increase the economic and environmental benefits from these lands. Grasslands, with or without existing tree cover, especially lands that have been disturbed by wildland fires and are prone to erosion, are priority target lands for restoration.

    Thousands of erosion-control seedlings are produced yearly by Guam Forestry and are available for landowners who qualify for the FSP. Large savannah landowners can get labor help for planting through volunteer groups. Volunteer groups have been and continue assisting in planting tree seedlings in grasslands located in the Ugum and Fouha Watersheds, and grasslands surrounding Fena Lake.

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    EU Strategy for the Pacific

    From the CTA Brussels Newsletter.

    The General Affairs Council meeting held in Brussels on 17 July 2006 decided on the following EU strategies for the Pacific region:
    • to strengthen the political relationship between the EU and the Pacific ACP countries
    • to address the socio-economic and environmental challenges through more efficient, better coordinated and more focused development cooperation, giving priority to sustainable development and sustainable use of natural resources
    • to conclude the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) as an instrument for development
    • to achieve the MDGs, especially the fight against poverty. In this respect special attention should be given to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste, being the three countries with the lowest GDP/capita in the Pacific.
    • to help countries vulnerable to natural disasters to protect their biodiversity, including dealing with climate change and rising sea levels and addressing diminishing fish-stock and coral bleaching.

    Full report:

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    Wednesday, July 19, 2006

    New Pacific Journal: Journal of Organic Systems

    Vis PestNet.

    The web based publication Journal of Organic Systems will be launched at the Organic Federation of Australia's annual conference dinner in Sydney on Saturday 22 July 2006.

    This long overdue initiative provides the first opportunity for those committed to 'Organic' approaches to publish their work in English in a southern hemisphere refereed journal. It is a significant step in the maturity of Organics in the Oceania Pacific region. Though international, it has a distinct pulse of 'down under'.

    "Researchers and practitioners of 'organic approaches' can publish their findings and ideas. These may relate to the design and management of production systems, their problem-proofing and problem solving, produce handling and marketing, policy issues and associated organisational and technological issues, and supportive approaches to education, research and development," explained Australian co-founding Editor Professor Stuart Hill.

    Though two years in the making, the initiative came as an integral part of a bigger vision for Organics. Founding director Brendan Hoare believes that, "If we want the world Organic, then we have to believe that every part of the world is going Organic. We need rigour in our applied practices, science and its communication to help us achieve our vision."

    The initiative has been fully supported by the Organic community throughout Oceania and Pacific region and by the international research community. The editorial group comprises some of the most respected and active researchers in their field currently from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.

    Founding editors Professor Neil Macgregor is a retired soil ecologist from Massey University in New Zealand and Professor Stuart Hill is Founding Chair of Social Ecology at the University of Western Sydney, Australia.

    "The systems approach to the Journal of Organic Systems is significant." says Professor Stuart Hill, "It becomes increasingly clear that conventional approaches are unsustainable and have inherent negative impacts on individuals, communities and ecosystems. The Journal of Organic systems will provide a valuable communication tool in this necessary cultural transformation. It is a significant step in our history."

    The Journal will be free and electronic based on: www.organic-systems.org


    Professor Stuart B. Hill: 61 (0)2 4736-0799 (wk); 61 (0)2 4753-1158 (h); s.hill@uws.edu.au
    Brendan Hoare: 886 (0) 91 2939026; bhoare@unitec.ac.nz

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    Tuesday, July 18, 2006

    New Forest Inventory in Fiji

    Ministry of Information and Communications Press Release, Wednesday 19th July, 2006

    The Ministry of Fisheries and Forests is undertaking a new forest inventory to update the status of the native forest resources in the country.

    The Minister for Fisheries and Forests, Ilaitia Tuisese said about $1 million will be spent on the National Forest Inventory project which will be completed in 2007. The inventory will provide the updated statistics of our forest distributions, densities and compositions and forest cover maps and will prevent exploitation, he said.

    "There is an urgent need to get an updated knowledge and understanding of what is left in Fiji's remaining forest areas to enable better development planning." The last forest inventory was undertaken in 1991.

    Mr Tuisese also said future policy decisions on our forest management and planning will be based from the output of the inventory. “A low profile Forest Certification program is also being undertaken to set up Certification Standards of forest products to access high niche markets in developed countries,” he said.

    More and more international consumers demand that forest products (timbers, plywood, furniture) must come from a certified sustainable managed forest. If Fiji is to continue trading its timber products in international markets then the country must comply with the requirements of forest certifications.

    Work of the Forest Certification project has been on going in Fiji for the past two years, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done and involves the following :
    • establishing a Fiji standard
    • getting accreditation for the standards
    • getting the market to recognize Fiji products

    This work will mainly involve a lot of awareness, meetings, training, workshops and publications to ensure Fiji does not lose out in this transitional process.

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    Monday, July 17, 2006

    Cane farmer switches to coconut products

    Fiji Times, July 18, 2006

    Jagdish Prasad shows some of the products he makes from coconut

    A CANE farmer of Labasa is not regretting the decision to leave his farm and venture into manufacturing coconut oil for commercial use.

    Jagdish Prasad of Lajonia is the proud owner of Jax Coconut Products and is at the moment looking for a market for the fragrant oil and soap his company produces.

    After doing trials more than five years ago Mr Prasad managed to make lemon, fragipani and kura soap and coconut oil.

    Mr Prasad said when he started his business he was supplying oil to Pure Fiji and as his production increased he ventured into the local market.

    He said business was slow because his machines had the capacity to produce 2000 litres oil each week but because of lack of markets he was manufacturing a little more than 1000 litres a month.

    Mr Prasad said setting up business in Labasa was a big drawback because the potential market was in Viti Levu.

    He said when he received many orders he had seven labourers working for him and during slack weeks he was forced to shut down the machines.

    Mr Prasad said after selling his cane farm he bought a drier and oil extracting and purifying machines for $20,000 and spent more than $10,000 setting up factory.

    He bought coconuts from farmers at Naduri and hired a van to pick workers.

    Mr Prasad said he was optimistic that in years to come his products would be popular.

    He said cane farmers who were not benefiting from their farm should venture into something new.

    Mr Prasad said if he secured a stable, wholesaler or market he would expand his factory and employ more people.

    He said he wanted his business to be part of the coconut industry which was flourishing.

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    Pacific Mangroves Disappearing under Rising Seas

    July 17, 2006 — By Michael Perry, Reuters

    SYDNEY — Global warming could lead to the destruction of more than half the mangrove wetlands of some Pacific islands, wiping out or reducing marine breeding grounds that support multi-million dollar fisheries, a UN report says.

    A U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) report looking at the impact of rising seas on mangroves in 16 Pacific nations found the worst hit-islands would be American Samoa, Fiji, Tuvalu and the Federated States of Micronesia. The report, released on Monday, found that these island nations could lose more than half their mangroves by the end of the century.

    "The true economic value of ecosystems like mangroves is now starting to emerge," said report coordinator Kitty Simonds. "Mangroves are important nurseries for fish, act to filter coastal pollution and are important sources of timber and construction materials for local communities," she said. "Pacific islanders also harvest dyes from mangroves to treat textiles, nets and fish traps."

    The report said goods and services generated by mangroves may be worth an average of US$900,000 per square km, depending on their location and uses. An estimated 75 percent of commercially caught prawns in Australia's tropical state of Queensland depend on mangroves. In Malaysia, a 400 sq km (154 sq miles) managed mangrove forest in Matang supports a fishery worth US$100 million a year. Mangroves also protect islands from flooding during storms, with mangroves estimated to reduce wave energy by 75 percent, said the report. For example, mangroves proved crucial in limiting damage to some sections of coast during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

    The report called for a reduction in pollution from land-based sources to make existing mangroves more healthy and resilient to rising seas caused by a warming atmosphere. Most scientists say burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas is leading to a rapid rise in greenhouse gases that are warming the atmosphere, melting glaciers and causing oceans to expand. Global warming is also expected to lead to more extreme weather, including stronger cyclones in the Pacific.

    The report said roughly half the world's mangroves have been lost since 1900 as a result of clearing for development. "There are many compelling reasons for fighting climate change -- the threats to mangroves in the Pacific underline yet another reason to act," said UNEP executive director Achim Steiner in a statement. "There is also an urgent need to help vulnerable communities adapt to the sea level rise which is already underway."

    Source: Reuters

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    Sunday, July 16, 2006

    Food Security in the South Pacific Island Countries

    By Sharma K.L. (2006) United Nations University-WIDER Research Paper 2006/68 (PDF 104Kb).

    2006 - This paper analyses the status of food security in selected South Pacific Island countries, namely Cook Islands, Fiji Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu at the national and household levels during the period 1991-2002. Due to a narrow resource base and production conditions, the Pacific Islands concentrate on a few primary commodities for production and exports. During recent years import dependency for food items has increased mainly due to a decline in per capita food production and a rapid rate of rural-urban migration. Currently, export earnings can finance food imports but earnings could fall short of the requirements needed after the expiry of some commodity preferential price agreements with importing countries. National food security is dependent on the continuation of subsistence farming and tapping ocean resources in conjunction with the on-going commercial farming of those crops in which Pacific Islands have a comparative advantage. Increased productivity is crucial for improving agricultural performance through government investment in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and by extension, irrigation and appropriate price incentives. This would also help alleviate poverty for improvement in economic accessibility of food by households. There is also a need to design appropriate disaster risk management programmes to minimize any adverse effects on the food supply.

    Published Date: July 7, 2006

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    Thursday, July 13, 2006

    The SPC-RGC in the news

    Fiji Times, Friday, July 14, 2006

    EFFORTS to establish a genetic resource centre to help crop production, particularly in times of natural disasters, received a financial boost of $85,600.

    The Secretariat of the Pacific Community is trying to build a germplasm centre to support agricultural development for its 22-member countries.

    On Wednesday the Korean Embassy donated $US50,000 toward the effort.

    Germplasm is a term used to describe genetic resources or more precisely the DNA of an organism and collection of that material.

    The practice worldwide is to collect plant, animal and bacterial germplasm for use in breeding new organisms and conservation of species.

    Korean Ambassador Bong Joo Kim handed over the cheque to the SPC secretary general, Dr Jimmie Rodgers in Nabua on Wednesday.

    The centre, which is expected to be relocated to the SPC's campus at Narere, is expected to touch the lives of people in the Pacific by providing a quick restoration of crops following any disaster such as a cyclone and disease epidemics.

    The SPC thanked the Korean embassy for the much-needed donation.

    The pledge to support the SPC was taken at the fourth conference of the Pacific communities in Palau last year.

    "It will serve as a centre for training for Pacific island scientists in tissue culture, cryo-preservation and other methods of plant genetic conservation," said Mr Kim.

    He said the contribution demonstrated the Korean government's intention to strengthen and expand ties between Korea and Pacific island countries.

    Using techniques of tissue culture, the SPC offers Pacific island countries a chance to share crop varieties and access germplasm from anywhere in the world.

    The emphasis is on vegetatively propagated crops for which virus and virus-ike diseases pose a hazard to crop transfer, where alternative methods of transfer are not available, seed is either produced or the crops do not breed true.

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    Coconut and health

    VERENAISI RAICOLA, Fiji Times, Friday, July 14, 2006

    THERE is a misconception that coconut is unhealthy.

    The encouraging news is that it is not.

    Instead, coconuts have many health benefits and believe it or not, prevents many lifestyle diseases.

    Our ancestors not so long ago used every part of the coconut tree from the top of the leaf to the bottom of the tree.

    Coconut oil, flesh, milk and other products have been staple diets of our people.

    But since people became more conscious of their health, coconut oil has been blindly considered unhealthy.

    That is why many people associate coconut oil and milk with heart diseases.

    But the perception must now change thanks to a study conducted by Doctor Bruce Fife who was engaged by the Coconut Industry Development Authority to speak on coconuts and its advantages in Fiji.

    Today, Dr Bruce is the world's leading expert on coconut.

    He is the director of the Coconut Research Centre, a non-profit organisation dedicated to educating the public and the scientific community on the nutritional and health benefits of coconut.

    Dr Bruce said many thought that coconut oil was unhealthy and promoted heart diseases but it was a wrong perception.

    "In fact, unsaturated coconut oil is good for the body. Doctors do not know the difference because they are not nutritionists.

    "But there is a difference. The fat in coconut oil is known as medium chain fatty acid.

    "Other oils in food are made up of a long chain of fatty acids so it really has a size difference," he said.

    Dr Bruce said the body processed fats differently depending on size.

    "They digest differently, grow in the body differently and have different effects on blood flow," he said.

    Dr Bruce, who used to believe that coconut oil was harmful saturated fat, changed his mind after researching coconut oil.

    "I could not find anything negative about coconut oil.

    "Information I found showed coconut oil protected against heart diseases and this is natural coconut oil, not chemically altered."

    Dr Bruce said a remarkable aspect was that coconut oil had the ability to kill diseases causing bacteria, virus and fungus.

    "The medium chain fatty acid in coconut oil is identical to the fatty acid in breast milk.

    "So coconut oil and breast milk are similar because they contain the same fat.

    "That is the primary reason breast milk protects babies from infectious diseases because of fatty acid. Coconut oil contains the same fatty acid that kills bacteria which causes throat infection, ear infection, sinus infection, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, fungus that cause ringworm and athlete's foot.

    "It also kills virus that causes influenza, measles, herpes, hepatitis C and kills HIV.

    Doctor Bruce said this was confirmed at a clinical study in the Philippines where HIV patients were given three and a half tablespoons of coconut oil a day without any other treatment.

    "In three months they were showing signs of recovery so this was the first stage that showed that coconut oil had a antiviral effect in human beings.

    "That is why there is a multi-national study in Africa right now using coconut oil as a treatment for HIV but it would be a couple of years before there are results on that," he said.

    Dr Bruce said coconut oil prevented heart diseases, dissolved kidney stones, controlled diabetes, enhanced the immune system, prevents heart disease, increases the metabolism rate and loses excessive body fat, contrary to our beliefs.

    He recommended people to use coconut oil in their everyday cooking because it is heat stable.

    "The nut can be eaten raw and the cream is excellent," he said.

    Coconut Industry development Authority chairman Ken Roberts said more people needed to be aware of the potential benefits of planting more coconuts.

    "More important, we would have more healthy people and we need not worry so much about exporting coconuts as we would end up eating all ourselves," Mr Roberts said.

    He boasts that after having virgin coconut oil scoops for the past couple of months he has managed to lose five kilograms.

    "Virgin coconut oil is different because it is pure with the least amount of mechanical processing-similar to what our grandmothers made," he said.

    Mr Roberts said coconut oil gave him a feeling of fullness and that was why he did not eat much but managed to lose weight painlessly.

    His message to Fiji is: "Plant more coconuts it is healthy and has been used for centuries without harmful effects try it."

    Organic Pacific Ltd director Peni Drodrolagi who manages an indigenous company that produces cold-pressed virgin coconut oil.

    The processed coconut oil will soon be available in local supermarkets and for export.

    Mr Drodrolagi said Fijians needed to be more aggressive in doing business to succeed.

    Mr Drodrolagi, a former general manager for Shell, said people undermined coconuts not knowing it had many values.

    He left a highly paid job to work with rural village communities to produce coconut oil.

    "Fiji Niu oil is unrefined and made from hand- picked coconuts through direct micro expelling technology designed specifically for coconuts.

    "As a consequence technology produces natural coconut oil of vastly superior quality with no chemicals used to produce the product."

    Mr Drodrolagi said he preferred to set up the coconut business instead of joining politics because he wanted to give more back to the community.

    "I have two daughters who have a passion for agriculture and who are in the business.

    "That is why I prefer to work and operate a family-based business that helps villages in Taveuni and Moala in the Lau group.

    "This business is great but the biggest obstacle is finding the starting point," said Mr Drodrolagi.

    "That is why it is a real struggle for Fijians to start a business, unlike the Gujeratis who had great business networking skills.

    "We are at a disadvantage because unlike the Gujeratis who run family businesses, we start on our own without proper financial channels to help us progress further in this arena."

    Mr Drodrolagi said he had no regret establishing the family business because in eight weeks he is able to spend one week in Moala or Taveuni with his relatives who produce virgin coconut oil.

    "Our coconut oil is produced in a totally different way we take small scale processing to the nuts rather than taking the nuts in debased forms to a large scale processor.

    "We concentrate on small and manageable, daily batches and this allow us to produce oil on average, within one to two hours of opening the coconuts."

    He said the process depended on simple, easily learned skills rather than sophisticated equipment.

    "This makes it ideal for rural communities, creating regular, meaningful employment for the entire villages.

    "Now we know why the coconut tree is sometimes called the tree of life.

    "It meets so many basic needs including food and can be used to make shelter and fuel.

    "All these are some of the reasons why people should see the humble coconut in a different way," said Dr Bruce the coconut expert.

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    Tongan bark may hold diabetes key

    Source: Melbourne Herald Sun – Australia, 8 June 2006

    Melbourne biotechnology company Dia-B Tech believes it has found a natural alternative to the anti-diabetes drug insulin in the bark of a plant found in Tongan rainforests. Chief executive Ken Smith is tight-lipped on details, preferring not to disclose the name of the vine until the company has a provisional patent over its use.

    "But what I can tell you is that plant has been used by traditional healers in Tonga to heal type two diabetes and obesity over hundreds of years," Mr Smith said. "They mix it with a potion of various plants and tree barks which are ground, mixed with water and taken orally with great results."

    The company has been testing the bark since February last year, today announcing to the Australian Stock Exchange that preliminary results were looking good.

    Dr Ken Walder, a scientist with Intramed, another biotech company involved in the research, said it was already clear the natural derivative had a component with "very strong" insulin-like qualities.

    When developed commercially, the component would be used by people with type two diabetes, a metabolic disorder that occurs when the pancreas is not producing enough insulin. The medical and commercial potential would be significant if further research confirmed the component effectively acts as a natural `proxy' for insulin, Mr Smith said.

    More than one million Australians are estimated to have type two diabetes, with researchers predicting this figure will treble by 2051.

    For full story, please see: www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,19406257%255E1702,00.html

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    Food relief needed in Solomon Islands

    HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, July 12) - An Ontong Java chief says his people will go hungry if relief food supplies do not reach them by the end of the month. Speaking through two-way radio on Monday, Chief Peter Kalali urged the National Disaster Management Office to act quickly. The island of Lord Howe, in the Malaita Outer Islands, was recently hit by coastal waves, which damage food gardens on the low lying island. [PIR editor’s note: Ontong Java, formerly known as Lord Howe Island, is part of Malaita Province, located north of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. According to Wikipedia, the people of the main island of Malaita are Melanesians whilethe outer islands of Ontong Java and Sikaiana are of a Polynesian ethnicity]. Kalali said the situation was further exacerbated by continuous heavy rain, which made it difficult for people to grow their food gardens. Taro is the stable root crop on the island. “I was pressured by my people to alert authorities aboutthe problem we are facing now. If relief supplies did not reach us by the end of the month, we will go hungry,” Kalali said.

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    Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    The first meeting of the Governing Body of the ITPGRFA

    Below is the executive summary of John Madden's (DAFF) report on the above meeting. John was the chair of the Souhwest Region's delegation, which included representatives from Cooks Islands, Kiribati, Samoa and Fiji. I can send the full report.

    The first meeting of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (the Treaty) was held in Madrid from 12-16 June 2006. The Governing Body had to decide on a number of matters to make the Treaty fully operational. In summary, the Treaty’s objectives are the conservation and use of plant genetic resources for sustainable agriculture and food security.

    There was a strong mood of pessimism at the start of the meeting, with many considering that there would not be sufficient agreement to make the Treaty operative. The Southwest Pacific region’s view was cautiously optimistic. Our key objective was to get the Treaty up and running, in order to provide certainty to plant breeders. Other objectives were to see as many of the conclusions agreed at the Fiji workshop put into effect as we could. Through vigorous negotiation, the delegation was able to achieve almost all of the outcomes sought, while postponing consideration of others.

    The decisions included:
    1. the terms of the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (a private contract for the transfer of genetic resources – seeds, tissue culture etc. - under the auspices of the Treaty: this includes, after difficult negotiations, a royalty rate of 0.77% of the net sales of a product that contains genetic resources from the Treaty’s Multilateral System - but only after users commercialise the product, and also only if they take out intellectual property protection that restricts others from freely using the product for research or breeding.
    2. decision making by consensus, rather than voting;
    3. Parties need only make voluntary financial contributions, rather than specified annual payments;
    4. consideration of compliance arrangements was postponed (we do not see a strong need for them);
    5. signing of the relationship agreement with the Global Crop Diversity Trust, and four members of its board to be appointed by the Bureau of the Governing Body (Southwest Pacific is represented on the Bureau);
    6. a modest budget and a limited work programme for 2006-2007, which may pressure FAO to provide additional funding; and
    7. arrangements for the appointment of the Secretary by the Bureau, including international advertisement.

    The Governing Body meeting successfully addressed a number of issues that had not been able to be resolved in negotiating the Treaty, or which required detailed consideration in order to implement its provisions. As a result of the decisions made by the first Governing Body meeting, the operations of the Treaty should prove to be efficient and well focussed.

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    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Conference Underway in Tahiti

    Tuesday: 11 July 2006, Tahitipresse

    Following preceding events in French overseas territories, in the Reunion (2000), Guadeloupe (2001), and Guyana (2004), the Fourth international Conference on Aromatic and Medicinal Plants opens Monday in Tahiti and continues to July 13th.

    The purpose of this event is to promote the knowledge and enhanced value of these plants from Polynesia and from all the overseas departments and countries in general.

    The interest for natural resources, more particularly those coming from high level endemicity zones, is growing, whether it be at a scientific level, for the comprehension of our world; at an industrial level, in search of new active molecules to patent; or at a political level for regional development. It is therefore our responsibility to protect and enhance the value of the latter.

    The main objectives of this conference are to define the knowledge on Aromatic and Medicinal Plants in its present state and to create scientific and technological exchange between the overseas departments and countries and other Pacific regions. Information on the legislation and regulation enforced in France, Europe, United States and China, will also be provided.

    More info: http://gepsun.upf.pf/spip/

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    Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    The rape of PNG forests

    Sexual coercion, corruption and assault are the coin of PNG's illegal logging industry, writes Greg Roberts in The Australian.

    Zibe sighs as he explains why he believes he was sacked by Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Michael Somare as the country's environment minister."I trod on too many toes in the logging industry and it's got powerful friends," Zibe says. "I insisted that our industry standards should be no less than those in Australia. I paid a high price for that."

    PNG government documents obtained by Inquirer demonstrate how Malaysian logging companies that hold concessions to log eight million hectares of rainforest in PNG are operating in defiance of the country's laws with the blessing of Somare's Government. Port Moresby now faces restrictions on timber imports by Australia and other Western nations, which are increasingly frustrated at PNG's failure to act against unscrupulous operators in the industry.

    Zibe says that at the time of his sacking 18 months ago, he was implementing measures to crack down on the corruption, human rights abuses and environmental degradation that have become the industry's hallmarks. Since then, the environment department's enforcement unit has been effectively disbanded. "Now there is nobody watching over what these companies get up to," says Zibe, who remains an MP in Somare's ruling National Alliance Party.

    Compliance audits completed by the PNG Government's forestry review team have found numerous breaches of regulations in all 11 projects studied. A report on the Asengseng project, typical of the rest, said loan conditions negotiated between the Government and the World Bank to improve forestry practices were not met. Political pressure resulted in new permits continuing to be issued quickly, in defiance of government policy to log forests on a sustainable basis.

    The report said compliance requirements were "typically either trivialised or ignored". The Asengseng project was illegal because it was not mentioned in the national forest plan and there was no legal instrument to record landowner agreement. Three government agencies failed to comply with due process. The audits, the review team's latest, were conducted over 12 months to March last year.

    Somare has a long personal association with the loggers. As a director of the Sepik River Development Corporation, he was forced to front a 1989 inquiry into the industry by retired Australian judge Thomas Barnett, who found Somare should be referred tothe Ombudsman Commission for allegedly lying under oath about a logging concession held by the SRDC in East Sepik Province.

    The SRDC, which Somare still heads, negotiated a logging deal over the concession in 1991 with Hey Bridge Pty Ltd, in which his son Arthur is a leading shareholder. Arthur Somare was forced to resign in March as PNG's planning minister over allegations of financial impropriety.
    Last year, Malaysian company Brilliant Investment took over the SRDC concession. The PNG Forest Board is investigating whether timber permits issued to Brilliant are valid.

    Three of Somare's five children are directors of their family company, SAB: Arthur, his brother Sana and their sister Betha, who is the Prime Minister's press secretary. SAB is involved in several logging operations in East Sepik Province.

    PNG authorities are investigating allegations of illegal logging in the Morijau wildlife management area in the province. Betha Somare says she knows nothing about logging in the reserve but she declines to comment further on the operations of SAB.

    Speaking on behalf of her father, Betha Somare says he had nothing to do with the Hey Bridge negotiations and has no direct involvement with the industry. "He has never profited from a logging company."

    She defends the Prime Minister's forestry policies. "The people of PNG want development, but not at any price. His leadership has always guaranteed this."

    A confidential National Executive Council minute signed by Somare in 2004 shows how his Government rejected warnings by the World Bank that it would withhold about $30million worth of loan funds because of concerns about logging in the Wawoi Guavi and Vailala logging concessions, both held by Malaysian forestry giant Rimbunan Hijau.

    Somare conceded that the issue risked damaging relations with the World Bank and compromising PNG's ability to raise loans. However, the permits would not be revoked because of the "adverse political, social, economic and legal implications", Somare wrote. The loan funds were subsequently withheld.

    The Rimbunan Hijau Group is owned by Malaysia's Tiong family. It accounts for 80 per cent of logging in PNG and has an annual turnover of more than $1.5billion. Rimbunan is a big player in the country's economic and political life. Royalties from the group make up 3 per cent of government revenue. Rimbunan owns one of PNG's two main newspapers, The National, which runs a fiercely pro-logging line, as well as its biggest supermarket chain, RH Hypermarket. Somare declared in a recent speech that Rimbunan "must be supported" in the face of international criticism of its logging practices.

    The closeness of ties between the Somare Government and Rimbunan is reflected in a 2004 letter sent by Rimbunan managing director James Lau to Forest Minister Patrick Pruaitch. Lau told Pruaitch he had learned of a Forest Board decision to issue a show-cause notice to the company over its Vailala concession. Pruaitch promptly wrote to board chairman Wari Iamo ordering the indefinite deferral of a board meeting planned to discuss the notice, which was never issued.

    Documents show how Pruaitch seeks reimbursement from his own department for expenses. A Forest Authority remittance advice records K680 ($279) being paid to Pruaitch as a refund of 2003 club membership fees for the South Pacific Motor Sports Club in Port Moresby.

    A memorandum from Wari Iamo to National Forest Service finance controller Robby Louai of the same date shows Iamo sought a refund for the same fees. A report commissioned by the National Forest Service from consultants Quest Investigation International examined spending of NFS money by Pruaitch over four months in 2004. Six different motor vehicles were provided to Pruaitch, including a car worth K3797 for a staff member to "pick up some confidential document". The minister receives travelling and entertainment allowances but he dipped into the public purse - augmented in large part by Australia's $300million a year in budgetary aid to PNG - for such items as a K2426 dinner for "bodyguards". The minister's spending was an "exercise in self-enrichment and double dipping of the public purse", the report said.

    Somare ignored the report's recommendation that Pruaitch be referred to police. Pruaitch's office declined to respond to written questions from Inquirer.

    Some of the most severe criticism of the PNG Government's handling of the industry comes from its own agencies. A PNG Planning Department report described as "cause for serious concern" complaints in 2004 that Rimbunan used police to silence complaints against logging. Investigators were told that protesters were bashed and their homes were torched.

    The closeness of ties between police and the company is reflected in a letter from the Kamusie police detachment to Rimbunan company Straits Marine asking for money to "complete the mission". Rimbunan community relations manager Axel Wilhelm replies that police have never been asked to act against logging opponents. PNG's National Intelligence Organisation claimed in reports on Rimbunan's Turama and Vailala logging concessions that people died after drinking from the Karoa River after fuel drums had been dumped in it, and others fell ill when fuel and industrial waste were dumped in the Purari River. A 2004 report by PNG's Community Development Department said timber workers in Wawoi Guavi were paid less than one kina an hour, worked 12-hour days and were not supplied with boots or helmets.

    Rimbunan's 1.5-million-hectare Wawoi Guavi concession has been particularly controversial. A villager from the area, Patrick Pate, points to a scar on his nose as he tells Inquirer he was assaulted recently by unknown assailants after leading an anti-logging protest. "They don't let anybody stand in their way," Pate says.

    He claims that locals working for Rimbunan get little out of logging. "They got credit with shops owned by the company, and that uses up all their money." People often sell their daughters to Malaysians in the logging camps for sex. "All the old family ties are falling apart."

    Wilhelm replies that the group's 4000 employees are treated well and that logging operations are always conducted in accordance with PNG laws. He says he is unaware of any links between logging-related pollution and deaths or sickness. Allegations of environmental degradation and sexual abuse were made by marginal groups of landowners "coerced by third parties pursuing their own agendas", he says.

    In a National Court document, landowner Max Mera claims he was offered K30,000 to drop a 2004 court action against a logging operation by Rimbunan company Frontier Holdings; Mera claims he initially agreed and accepted a down payment of K3000, but changed his mind.

    Wilhelm replies that Mera had fallen out with fellow landowners and that Rimbunan never offered bribes, adding: "We hold on record various attempts by marginal groups of landowners and third parties to extort money from the company in exchange for not creating problems."
    A PNG Community Development Department report says women employed as domestic servants in the Vanimo concession by Malaysian company Vanimo Forest Products in 2004 were expected to provide sexual favours and were beaten if they refused. Women were forced to insert ball bearings in their vaginas before sex to boost the men's pleasure and had given birth to large numbers of illegitimate children. Fourteen complaints of child sex abuse were lodged against one foreign company employee. The company did not return calls.

    Reports of this nature have prompted a Howard government decision to ban the import of illegally logged timber from PNG and elsewhere. Details of the ban are expected to be announced soon. Brisbane-based TLB Timbers imports 17,000 cubic metres, about half of Rimbunan's annual timber exports, to Australia. A TLB Timbers spokesman says there is no evidence any Rimbunan timber has been felled illegally.

    International pressure on Port Moresby over the logging issue is mounting, nonetheless. New Zealand's High Court has ruled in favour of the expulsion by the NZ Timber Importers Association of Rimbunan company the LumberBank.

    In London, the Wolseley Group has banned the import of plywood from China, the main market for PNG timber. Activists in Australia plan a campaign against the ANZ bank because Rimbunan is a client and the bank provides guarantees for logging companies to secure approval for new projects in PNG. An ANZ spokesman says the bank has raised concerns with Rimbunan.

    Anti-logging activists claim the Somare Government is stepping up a campaign of intimidation against them. Eco-Forestry Forum co-ordinator Ken Mondaia says he moves house in Port Moresby every two or three months because of threats. "You don't feel safe when you keep getting visited by police. You are always looking over your shoulder."

    An impediment to new logging projects has been removed with recent legislative changes. Instead of having to go through the usual assessment processes, new projects can be classified as extensions to existing logging concessions. That gets around the difficulty Rimbunan had when PNG's Ombudsman Commission concluded that the 800,000ha Kamula Dosa extension to its Wawoi Guavi concession was illegal because it bypassed approval processes.

    "A 37-step approval process has been reduced to nothing," says Port Moresby lawyer Anne Kajir, whose stand against illegal logging this year earned her a coveted international conservation award, the Goldman Environmental Prize.

    "We've gone from a situation that was very bad to one that is much worse," Kajir says.

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    Book on PNG invasive Piper aduncum

    From the Forest Policy Info Mailing List

    Piper aduncum, a shrub native to Central America, arrived in Papua New Guinea before the mid-1930s possibly from West Papua. From the 1970s it started to dominate the secondary fallow vegetation in many parts of the humid lowlands. It invaded grassland areas and it also appeared in the highlands up to 2100 m. The combination of its small and abundant seeds, its high growth rates, and the accidental or intentional spreading has resulted in its presence in most provinces of Papua New Guinea. The spread will continue.

    Its growth rates are in the highest range found for secondary fallow in the tropics. Piper aduncum dries the soil out and takes up very large amounts of nutrients. The invasion of Piper aduncum affects the rich biodiversity of the forests in Papua New Guinea
    New book

    Invasion of Piper aduncum in the shifting cultivation systems of Papua new Guinea
    by Alfred E. Hartemink
    ISRIC – World Soil Information, Wageningen, The Netherlands
    with a Foreword by Prof. David Pimentel
    ISBN 90-810628-1-6
    cost €35 including postage
    see http://www.piperaduncum.net/home.html

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    Tuesday, July 04, 2006

    Traditional vegetables in Fiji

    Fiji Times, Tuesday, July 04, 2006

    The Ministry of Agriculture has an ongoing program of reviving traditional vegetable production so that the public is aware of their cost effectiveness and richness in nutritive value.

    People for a number of years have been relying on the forest to provide constant supply of ota for their daily use.

    However, due to the increase in logging and uncontrolled fires, it has become necessary to cultivate ota not only to ensure constant supply but to also preserve this plant biodiversity from extinction. After years of research work, the ministry's research division has come up with a technology whereby ota (Athyrium esculenta) can be grown in backyard gardens.

    Senior research officer (Horticulture), Shalendra Prasad said that the idea was initiated in 2003.
    "After serious discussions we decided to test it out so we brought the planting materials from Namosi and did our own planting in our demo plot at the station in Nacocolevu in Sigatoka," he said.

    "We pulled out the shoots from the mother plant, trimmed them then just planted them on the ground. Since Sigatoka is within the intermediate zone, we put sarlon clothe over the plants to protect them from the glare of the sun," he explained.

    "In order to keep the plants moist, we spread sawdust over the soil."

    "With minimum agronomic practices and less cost of production, ota is an ideal crop for farmers as well as people living in the urban areas," said Mr Prasad.

    "A lot of consumers have been relying on exotic vegetables that are sold in markets and stores around the country in spite of the existence of traditional vegetables like bele, rourou and ota," said Mr Prasad.

    "These traditional vegetables were widely used by our forefathers and are more nutritious than most of the exotic vegetables." This technology will assist the urban dwellers to establish plots in their backyards for regular supply of green healthy vegetables.

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    Special treatment for yams

    Fiji Times, Tuesday, July 04, 2006

    YAMS are regarded as prized food in Fijian society.

    Unlike other root crops, it is harvested once a year.

    Right now most farmers who planted their yams last year are looking forward to their harvest.
    This is the right time to harvest yams.

    The food is so sacred that its preparation required a lot of sacrifice and hard work. In some places, the preparation of that place would be done in groups and there would be ceremonies or food prepared for the group.

    At the Saint Patrick's Mission in Vuaki in Nacula, yams are given such special treatment. That was the reason why yams dug from there were no ordinary yams. Its extra ordinary size showed the importance of the crop in that mission where Father Iosefo Rokomatu is the chief priest.

    The smallest of the giant yams dug up last week weighed 120 kilogram.

    It was brought to Lautoka by one of the catechists who attended a religious workshop there.

    Jimi Nikola from Vitogo said he only got the smallest of the lot because that was the only one he was able to carry to the vessel that would get him to Lautoka.

    Mr Nikola said the yams in Vuaki were no joke.

    "The yams are very big, giant sizes," he said.

    He said that the yams were given to them as token of appreciation for attending the workshop.
    "For the one week we were there, there was no other root crop available but yam," he said

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    Sunday, July 02, 2006

    Indigenous Peoples Group CINE Visits Pohnpei

    By Amy Levendusky, Kaselehlie Press.

    From June 3-9, 2006, Professor Harriet Kuhnlein from the Centre of Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment (CINE), McGill University, Canada and Chief Bill Erasmus, Regional Chief, Assembly of First Nations, Northwest Territories, Canada and Chair of the CINE governing board visited Pohnpei. The purpose of their visit was to assist with “The Traditional Food System of Pohnpei” project. This project is documenting and promoting the traditional foods of Pohnpei in the village of Mand, Madolenihmw, as coordinated by the Island Food Community of Pohnpei (IFCP) and local agencies.

    Pohnpei was selected as the 12th case study in a global health project led by CINE. The other case studies in the project include indigenous groups in Canada, Peru, Colombia, Japan, Kenya, India, Nigeria, and Thailand. The overall purpose of the project is to increase the production and consumption of locally grown foods and to improve health, conducting also scientific research to show the impact of this and presenting these results to the United Nations in order to help indigenous peoples.

    The 2 year project began in May 2005 and will be completed by September 2007. This project includes two phases. Phase 1, the documentation of the traditional food system began in May 2005 and was completed August 2005. Phase 2, which began in September 2005, is an intervention (using a mixture of methods) promoting those foods in Mand with the highest potential health benefits and greatest acceptability.

    On June 5, 2006, Professor Harriet and Chief Bill attended a strategy planning workshop at the Pohnpei Agriculture office, organized by IFCP. Twenty-nine people from government and non-government sectors, including community members of Mand, attended the workshop.

    Professor Harriet stressed how impressed she was with the great effort and progress brought forth by the Mand community members in implementing the project and looks forward to further progress in the future. Chief Bill emphasized, “My people in Canada have gone away from our local foods to eating a more western diet. With this change in diet, we’re seeing an increase in health problems like diabetes.”

    During their visit, Professor Harriet and Chief Bill had the opportunity to meet with Governor Johnny P. David and representatives from the Office of Economic Affairs, the College of Micronesia-FSM, and the Departments of Health and Education. They also attended a charcoal oven demonstration in Mand. One of the cultural highlights of their visit was observing the traditional pounding of breadfruit ceremony, lihli, at the residence of Deacon Lorens in Saladak.

    IFCP thanks the Mand community and our collaborating partners and support agencies, including the Pohnpei Office of Economic Affairs, Departments of Health and Education, Department of Land and Natural Resources, COM/FSM Land Grant, Natural Resource Conservation Service, CINE, Sight and Life, New Zealand and Australian Embassies, the Global Environmental Fund, and Pacific German Regional Forestry Project (PGRFP).

    Lois Englberger, PhD
    Island Food Community of Pohnpei
    P. O. Box 2299
    Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941 FM
    Tel: 691-320-8639 Fax: 691-320-4647
    Website: http://www.islandfood.org

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