A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
PAPGREN coordination and support
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
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Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Posted 2:15 PM by Luigi
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org), 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 (email@example.com). To order a copy, contact the NARI Information and Publications Unit (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com).
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) of the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.
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