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
Interested in GIS?
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Posted 4:08 PM by Luigi
Taro variety release recommendations for Papua New Guinea based on multi-location trials
D. Singh1,2, *J. Guaf2 T. Okpul3 G. Wiles2 D. Hunter1
1 Secretariat of the Pacific Community Suva, Fiji
2 National Agricultural Research Institute, Lae, Papua New Guinea
3 The University of Technology, Lae, Papua New Guinea
*Present address: Plant Breeding Institute Cobbitty, The University of Sydney, Private Mail Bag 11, Camden, NSW 2570, Australia. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Multi-location trials were conducted on six elite lines originating from the third cycle of the Papua New Guinea taro (Colocasia esculenta) breeding programme based on modified recurrent selection. The trials identified the multi-trait superiority of line C3-E10 over other five elite lines on the basis of high yield, taro leaf blight resistance, yield stability over a range of environments, and good eating quality. Line C3-E10 also showed an added advantage of rare flowering, which is helpful in restoring corm shape and better suckering ability. Based on this superiority, line C3-E10 has been released to farmers of Papua New Guinea (under the name NT 04) and for regional multi-location trials for the South Pacific region.
New Zealand Journal of Crop and Horticultural Science, 2006, Vol. 34: 163–171
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Posted 4:50 PM by Luigi
Phylogeography and genetic structure of Hibiscus tiliaceus — speciation of a pantropical plant with sea-drifted seeds
Molecular Ecology (2006) 15, 2871–2881
KOJI TAKAYAMA*, TADASHI KAJITA†, JIN MURATA* and YOICHI TATEISHI‡
* Botanical Gardens, Graduate School of Science, The University of Tokyo, 3-7-1 Hakusan, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-0001, Japan,
† Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Chiba University, 1-33 Yayoi-cho, Inage-ku, Chiba 263-8522, Japan,
‡ Faculty of Education, University of the Ryukyus, 1 Senbaru, Nishihara, Okinawa 903-0129, Japan
Phylogenetic relationships and the spatial genetic structure of a pantropical plant with sea-drifted seeds, Hibiscus tiliaceus L., and its allied species were investigated. The combined distribution range of these species is over almost the entire littoral area of the tropics worldwide, which might result from the dispersal of their sea-drifted seeds and from recurrent speciation in local populations. A phylogenetic tree constructed using the nucleotide sequences of a c. 7500-bp portion of chloroplast DNA suggested the possibility that recurrent speciation from H. tiliaceus has given rise to all of its allied species. Three major sequence haplotypes of H. tiliaceus had wide and overlapping distributions throughout the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions. This distribution pattern was also confirmed by PCR-SSCP (polymerase chain reaction amplification with single-strand conformation polymorphism) and PCR-SSP (PCR amplification with sequence specific primers) analyses performed on more than 1100 samples from 65 populations worldwide. Statistical analysis using FST and analysis of molecular variance did not show significant genetic differentiation among the H. tiliaceus populations in the three oceanic regions. The results reported here suggested substantial gene flow occurred between populations in the different oceanic regions due to sea-drifted seeds. A strong genetic difference between the Pacific and Atlantic populations of Hibiscus pernambucensis Arruda was observed, which indicates that gene flow in this species between the two regions has been prevented. The wide and dominant distribution of a haplotype shared by H. pernambucensis and H. tiliaceus in the Atlantic region suggests significant introgression between the two species in this region.
Posted 2:15 PM by Luigi
Nutrition documentary in Pohnpei
From Dr Lois Englberger
We are happy to share with you that Sight and Life, a humanitarian initiative of DSM Nutritional Products, based in Switzerland, has featured Pohnpei and island foods in an article in its current issue, 2/2006 on pages 39 and 40.
This article presents information related to their visit to Pohnpei for filming a nutrition documentary, as led by Dr. Klaus Kraemer, head of Sight and Life.
We are happy to share with you that there are many colorful photos in the article including the Sight and Life team, an aerial view of Pohnpei; a Pohnpeian schoolgirl of Mand Community smiling and eating Karat, the State Banana of Pohnpei; Governor Johnny P. David of Pohnpei with Dr. Klaus Kraemer; Welsihter Hagilmai of the College of Micronesia-FSM Land Grant program teaching a Class 4 group of Mand schoolchildren how to prepare Three Banana Fruit Salad (with Karat); Pohnpei tuna at a small fish market; myself measuring a waist circumference; and a farewell luncheon for the Sight and Life team hosted by the Island Food Community of Pohnpei.
Thank you again Sight and Life for the great article and your support for promoting island foods and thank you to all our partner agencies featured in the article and film!
Lois Englberger, PhD
P. O. Box 2299
Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941 FM
Tel: 691-320-8639 Fax: 691-320-4647
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Posted 2:12 PM by Luigi
Putting life back into coconuts
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Posted 7:16 PM by Luigi
Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems for Health
I am happy to share with you that a 4-member team from our Pohnpei Traditional Food for Health project just attended the Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems for Health: 2006 Meeting of Case Study Partners, August 10-13, 2006, in Montreal, Canada. Our team included Mr. Adelino Lorens and Mr. Kiped Albert as the Community Partners, myself as the Academic Partner, and Ms. Amy Levendusky, as Peace Corps Volunteer working with our Island Food Community of Pohnpei.
This global health meeting was hosted by the Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment (CINE), based at McGill University, as directed by Professor Harriet Kuhnlein, who recently visited our Island Food Community of Pohnpei-coordinated project, June 3-9, 2006, accompanied by Chief Bill Erasmus, Chair of the CINE Board (see our previous email and newspaper article on this).
To summarize, Pohnpei was invited last year to join this project as the 12th of the 12 case studies from around the world. The other case studies include the Nuxalk, Inuit, and Gwich’in from Canada, Igbo from Nigeria, Dalit and Bhil from India, Karen from Thailand, Aguaruna from Peru, Inganu from Columbia, Ainu from Japan, and Maasai from Kenya. The purpose of the overall project is to improve health through the increased use of traditional foods and to produce scientific documentation of the impact of this for presenting to the United Nations in order to help indigenous peoples.
The overall plan of the project includes 3-4 months of documentation of the traditional food system and assessing the health and diets, and then 2 years of an intervention to improve diets and health, followed by a final assessment of the diets and health. Our meeting in Montreal focused on producing the first documentation paper of the project, which will be published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
As many of you know, the Pohnpei case study centered in Mand Community, in Pohnpei. One of our major findings was that the traditional food system is greatly neglected. Yet, there was a great diversity of foods, 381 distinctly different food items. The study has raised great community interest and signs of project impact have already been recorded.
What a great meeting this was in Canada! We learned much about the many similarities as well as the differences between the case studies and the respective food systems. Each session was opened by a prayer, from those of different religions around the world. We shared rooms and shared thoughts. One session was held outdoors at the home of Professor Kuhnlein, with participants sitting around a fire. After the meeting one participant emailed that he had gone back home and told everybody he had met his old cousins!
Thank you again CINE for inviting us here in Pohnpei to join this project!
Lois Englberger, PhD
Island Food Community of Pohnpei
P. O. Box 2299
Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941 FM
Tel: 691-320-8639 Fax: 691-320-4647
Posted 6:50 PM by Luigi
Conservation of traditional crops at the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii
I recently visited three sites and four gardens belonging to the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTNG) in Hawaii at the invitation of Dr Diane Ragone of the Breadfruit Institute and I'd like to share with you some of the intersting things I saw:
Luigi Guarino, PGR Adviser, SPC
Monday, August 21, 2006
Posted 3:39 PM by Luigi
Coconut delight on the highway
Fiji Times, August 08, 2006.
WHENEVER you are travelling to Ba and happen to be at Matawalu Village, about 20 kilometres from Lautoka, you should try the fresh green coconuts on sale by the roadside.
The person who sells them, Seini Batiuvi, will only be too eager to tell you how popular this highway delight is.
Mrs Batiuvi said the majority of her customers were locals, even though coconut trees can be found in most compounds in Fiji.
The 42-year-old mother of two stumbled onto the idea of selling green coconuts after she realised that just being responsible for the housework was not the only way to look after her family.
Selling green coconuts daily for the past two years, Mrs Batiuvi said her earnings supplemented her husband's salary from his work at Bekana Island Resort, located off the coast of Lautoka.
Mrs Batiuvi said that since she started selling coconuts she had enjoyed good sales to locals and tourists.
"A lot of people want to drink from green coconuts and as they drive towards Ba they usually stop," she said.
"Even though it might be growing in their compound, hardly anyone has the time to climb a coconut tree so that everyone in the family could enjoy the sweet juice and flesh," she said.
"So when they are driving along the road and see our stall, they stop and want to try it out."
"Some people do not like the flesh but they enjoy the juice. Every morning, I walk around our settlement buying coconuts for at least $4 to $5 per dozen. And almost daily we sell every coconut," said Mrs Batiuvi.
She sells the coconuts for $1 each.
Posted 3:28 PM by Luigi
Lebot on UK joining EU Kava ban - Vanuatu must act
From Port Vila Presse. By Vincent Lebot, August 14, 2006.
A local expert on kava, Vincent Lebot says there is a need for Vanuatu and the other regional countries to make a policy decision to put an end to the ban on kava imposed by European countries.
Dr Lebot commented this week following the decision of the United Kingdom to uphold the ban on kava following the completion of the results of the study and research done by UK scientists following the ban imposed by Germany and France.
The action taken by the two European countries in 2002 followed allegations made by the health authorities in Germany that kava may cause liver cancer.
"Now kava is illegal in Germany, France and England and the scientists do not know what they are going to do. In this situation, I think there is a need to make a political decision. Germany, France and England are sovereign nations and we cannot change how they are thinking. If they are afraid of kava, it is finished," Lebot says.
He says that in the region, people know that kava is safe but they also know that kava will not be safe if preparations are not correctly carried out. Flaking of the skin can occur. Europeans have no knowledge of how to prepare kava.
"What we, the countries in the region, have to do now is to ask the scientists in Europe to come over and conduct a proper study on kava in the countries that grow it," says Vincent Lebot.
The UK authorities took the decision last month that herbal kava is to remain banned in both medicinal and food products following a review of the latest evidence weighing up its reputed benefits for alleviating anxiety and inducing sleep, against the risk of liver toxicity.
In Europe they don't use the term 'kava', but 'kava kava'. It is a herb from the pepper family with a long history of use in the in some Pacific islands countries and more recently in some EU countries, the US and Australia, as herbal medicine and in foods such as tea, cereal products, smoothies and sport drinks.
The UK's Food Standards Agency, FSA, and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority, MHRA, both dismissed the reinstatement of the UK kava kava market last month, even though some within the herbal products industry have maintained that grounds for the ban were unmerited.
However at the time of the original ban Professor Edzard Ernst, chair of complimentary medicine at Exeter University said that it went too far. For him, kava is proven to be effective in treating anxiety. Looking at the total risk, it is safer than synthetic drugs. He said that if we are going to ban kava today, then we should have banned Valium twenty years ago.
In Vanuatu, kava is one the main sources of income for the population in the rural area and, since the ban in 2002, there has been a great effort to improve and to maintain good quality in kava with the initiative taken by government and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry to encourage the planting of 10 noble varieties of kava.
On 28 July, there was a signing of financial convention between France and Vanuatu. Under this convention, the government of France is giving the money and the scientists to carry out a study on Vanuatu kava in order to control and improve the quality.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Posted 6:32 PM by Luigi
"Hana Hou!", Hawaiian Airlines in-flight magazine, has an interesting story by Paul Wood on traditonal taro cultivation on Maui, with great photos by Monte Costa.
Nearly a million drivers a year pass through the Ko‘olau, the greatest taro-growing region on Maui and perhaps—because it has been farmed in the same way by the same families right through all the cataclysmic changes of Island history—the most important living relic in all of Hawai‘i.
It flashes along the road to Hana in a few scenic glimpses. Suddenly there’s Ke‘anae—a lava peninsula that juts like a fat thumb almost a mile into the sea. Then, there goes Wailua Nui—an exceptionally wide valley mouth confined on each side by sea-thrusting ridges. Most drivers slalom through without understanding the place. How could they? The Ko‘olau has few places for the visitor to visit, few places even to stop the car. There are three scenic overlooks, each one limited to a few vehicles. From them you look down hundreds of feet to see the pond-farms of old Hawai‘i, the landscapes that fed a great culture. You see lo‘i, shining rectangles of channeled streamwater, laid out like playing cards slapped down from the dealer's deck. You see that about half of these lo‘i are grassed-over, no longer under cultivation. There’s no village; few residents in sight. You might instantly wonder: Is the place headed for collapse?
Or is it hanging on by its fingertips?
Then you might wonder: Or is it actually a flag of promise, a reminder of what we are all supposed to be doing? Is it we, not the taro farmers, who have slipped out of sync with life?
Depending on whom you talk to, the answer to all of these questions is yes.
The kahawai (natural stream) that runs through Kyle Nakanelua’s taro farm feeds his plants then crashes down on the side of the Hana road and rushes beneath it, flowing down to water the lo‘i of Wailua Nui far below. The traffic passes so close here that, if you wanted, you could leap down onto the unsuspecting roofs of the many tourist vans that pass. “Sometimes I stand on that edge and watch the traffic,” says Kyle. “People drive by and don’t even notice I’m there. I like that.”
Although it is set on a vertiginous rainforest slope, the farm is surprisingly open to the sky, wide and almost flat, full of clean, gleaming ponds connected by narrow deep rivulets. The earth is moist, almost spongy, and covered with a buzz-cut of broad-leafed grass that curves with the land meticulously down to every water-edge. There’s a stand of fat-stemmed sugarcane and a few banana clumps. There’s a small plywood house built up on concrete blocks, the open lower level for tools and workrooms. Around the house grows an old mango tree, red and green ti, a large ‘awa bush and a coconut that’s loaded with nuts, not at all like the safety-trimmed trees you see in downtown parking lots. Three mallard ducks come gabbling out from under the house, swaying like saloon-buddies, heading out to hunt for snails in the lo‘i....
Continue reading here.
Posted 6:30 PM by Luigi
Genetic resources workshops in the Pacific
As you may remember, a workshop was organized by Australia's Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and SPC this May in Fiji to discuss the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and other PGR policy issues as they affect the Pacific Island Countries and Territories. That was followed by a workshop on animal genetic resources conservation in the Pacific. An edited version of the press release we prepared for these workshops, including a photo, has now been published in the latest issue of Island Business here.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Posted 5:04 PM by Luigi
Award-Winning Businesswoman Revives Tongan Taro Trade
From Manukau City's website.
After being crowned last year's Pacific Business Person of the Year, Sulia Va'enuku has not rested on her laurels.
She has embarked on a new entrepreneurial challenge - that is both growing her business and helping lift the economic prospects of her struggling home country, Tonga.
Sulia, who runs Otahuhu-based Morning Star Freight Ltd, says the award was 'a big surprise' and gave her renewed confidence in her business abilities.
Sulia and her late husband set up the company 15 years ago to service the Auckland Pacific Island community. When he died in 2000 Sulia took over the reigns, and later enrolled in tertiary studies to expand her business and shipping knowledge.
She is currently completing a diploma in shipping logistics at the Manukau Institute of Technology, a diploma in shipping and freight at the New Zealand Maritime School and a post-graduate diploma in business at Auckland University.
Today, 90 per cent of the cargo the company carries is for Pacific Island individuals and businesses and the bulk of it consists of household items.
The company now employs six staff and has two offices in Tonga, another in Australia and one in Samoa. It operates throughout the Pacific region.
She was lucky to put her talents for innovation and business to a fresh challenge when she visited Tonga in June last year. But it was adversity that presented her with this new business opportunity.
During her visit home she was devastated to see the plight of taro farmers, who were finding it hard to make ends meet as one of the key export markets for this South Pacific staple food had suddenly dried up.
"It was so sad," Sulia says. "I could see many farmers and their families starting to really suffer financially.
"On many farms the taro was no longer being harvested and lay in the ground."
When presented with this hopeless scenario, Sulia - a well-known member of the Auckland island community because she is often the person they turn to when they want to send goods back home - knew she had to do something to help.
Carving Out New Market for Taro
What she ended up doing was to create a new market for taro in New Zealand. Turning taro importer, Sulia came up with an innovative way of boosting taro sales - by freezing the vegetable.
She says this had never been done before because taro does not lend itself to traditional freezing preparation methods.
Sulia came up with a new method based on skills she learnt while studying for the diploma in shipping and freight.
As well as carving out a new market for taro, frozen taro brings other benefits. One of the biggest drawbacks of importing fresh taro is that it has to be fumigated before it can be sold. This not only raises importing costs and therefore pushes up prices but also affects its taste, Sulia says.
Sulia's frozen taro sells at lower wholesale prices than the fresh variety and is also now being exported to Australia, where she has set up a branch. In New Zealand, Auckland is the main market for the taro and it also sells in Hamilton, Tauranga and Gisborne.
In developing the market, Sulia had to educate retailers and consumers about the benefits of frozen taro and she has been pleased to receive lots of positive comments. "People generally say that it tastes better because it is free from the chemicals and they find it more convenient to cook because it has been peeled."
During the past two months she has shipped more than 80 tonnes of frozen taro to New Zealand and Australia. Her next step is to expands it sales in New Zealand market and develop more international markets for frozen taro.
She is also planning to expand her core freighting business. This means exploring new markets for Morning Star's cost-effective shipping and high level of personalised service that ensures customers can feel secure that their belongings will arrive in one piece.
Sulia honed her customer service skills while working as a valet at the former five-star Regent Hotel (now Stamford Plaza) in the 1980s.Here she received formal training in providing excellent customer service and looked after the needs and wants of VIP guests. She met many movie stars and other celebrities and international statesmen while working there, including Rajiv Gandhi, General Sitiveni Rabuka, Luciano Pavarotti and Olivia Newton-John.
Morning Star Freight's office and warehouse complex is located down a drive in a residential area of central Otahuhu. In the main office, a tapa cloth adorns the wall behind Sulia's desk, and on this she has hung a framed copy of her award.
Sulia is excited about the company's future growth. As well as working long hours at work, Sulia teaches Sunday school at her local Tongan church. This busy mother of three children aged 16,10 and 8 often wonders how she does it all.
Posted 4:10 PM by Luigi
Radio programme on pandanus in Kiribati
From Betarim Rimon in Kiribati.
Last night on the Agriculture Programme on Radio Kiribati, a message on nutrition was shared with the whole of Kiribati. The results of Dr Englberger's studies were also presented. The programme is part of the Ministry’s efforts to promote production of local food crops and to encourage locals to prefer traditional foods or foods that are locally and organically grown.
Pandanus was the focus last night, and do note that this is not the first promotion work of this kind on pandanus. It was explained in the programme that local foods are fresher and more nutritious than imported food. Then the programme went on to explain the outstanding work of Dr Lois Englberger on the Kiribati pandanus, ‘te tou’.
In describing the information provided by Dr Lois on our Pandanus Poster, which had been widely circulated throughout the country, plus her other reports on pandanus, it was stressed that pandanus fruit, the brightly red and yellow coloured cultivars are so rich in Vitamin A. This is the very vitamin being confirmed by our health Ministry as most lacking in the country and hence highly linked to diseases, especially in children, such as night blindness, diabetes, high-blood pressure and certain cancers.
The programme went on to encourage locals to plant more pandanus, especially the type so rich in Vitamin A. It also reminded parents to pay extra attention to the foods of their babies and children and to have a special place for local foods, especially pandanus fruit, in the meals of their children.
In the programme, acknowledgements to Dr Lois were expressed. It was her work on the Kiribati pandanus that have greatly helped the I-Kiribati to rediscover their near-neglected food crop. This is fair and just to publicly acknowledge the outstanding work of Dr Lois and Kiribati will remain rely on her in the future in this area.
Mr Betarim Rimon
Senior Project Officer and FAO NC for Kiribati
Project and Planning Office
Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development
PO Box 234 Bikenibeu Tarawa
Republic of Kiribati
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Posted 9:37 PM by Luigi
Experts put bite on dalo beetles
VERENAISI RAICOLA, Fiji Times, 19 July 2006
Beetle-damaged dalo cannot be exported or sold to supermarkets.
Badly damaged dalo cannot even be cooked for home consumption that is how bad it can get.
So one can imagine the loss incurred when any farmer loses his or her crop to the dalo beetle.
The dalo beetle has been a serious pest in Fiji and other Pacific countries for several years now.
It is a direct threat to Fiji's multi-million dollar dalo export industry.
While the beetle has not been found on Taveuni, it is widespread in Naitasiri and Tailevu where farmers have lost their livelihood as a result.
It is widespread along the east coast of Viti Levu, including outer islands.
The pest lives in the soil and burrows inside the dalo corm, leaving behind a maze of tunnels.
The corm rots soon after beetle contact, destroying from 4 to 25 per cent of the crop.
For subsistence farmers, this is a big chunk of their livelihood, causing psychological strain as money thought to be in hand is lost once infestation spreads.
Farmers who have suffered heavy losses to dalo beetle damage can breathe a sigh of relief now with an effective pesticide treatment now available.
Two chemical treatments for fighting dalo beetles have been identified after years of research pioneered by the Taro Beetle Management project.
The collaboration between the South Pacific Commission and island states affected by the beetle resulted in the good news.
The two insecticides imidacloprid and bifenthrin will be launched tomorrow at Tokotoko, in Navua, after approval was given for the chemicals to be registered locally as pesticides.
A chemical residue analysis carried out by the University of the South Pacific shows acceptable levels of pesticides in treated dalo corms, indicating it is safe to eat.
These results will not only reassure consumers but boost exports.
SPC entomologist Sada Lal, who was involved in the research, said recommendation of the insecticides was the result of several years of research.
A Pacific Regional Agricultural development project funded byEU from 1989 to 2000, and based in Solomon Islands, worked on several aspects of beetle management, but by the end there was no effective control measures recommended to growers.
"Picking up from that, a four-year project funded by the Australian Centre forInternational Agricultural Research (ACIAR), started in 2002," Mr Lal said.
"SPC, taking the lead role in collaboration with research workers in Fiji and PNG, worked on a few selected insecticides and bio agents, plus giving consideration to cultural and other practices," he said.
Mr Lal said in the first year of field experiments, imidacloprid showed that over 95 per cent of harvested taro corms were undamaged.
"The insecticide was further evaluated in laboratories and field experiments.
"Another insecticide, bifenthrin showed similar results in controlling the beetle."
Residue analysis studies were conducted to check the levels of the insecticide residue in the harvested corms.
Mr Lal said if the insecticides were used as recommended, there should be no problem of any residues in the harvested crop.
Similar work was conducted in Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Kiribati and New Caledonia with funds provided by EU.
"These insecticides are now recommended for use for control of the taro beetle. It took us four years and about $F1m to come up with this solution," he said.
ACIAR has extended the program for two years in Fiji and PNG for adaptive research work.
The proper uses of the recommended insecticides are now being demonstrated to dalo growers.
The Ministry of Agriculture is finalising the program for the launch, which will see more than 300 farmers from Navua to Naitasiri attend an occasion they have dreamt of for years.
The integrated and holistic approach adopted for a solution to the dalo beetle problem involved input from thematic areas groups of LRD including bio-security, plant health, crop production and information and extension.
The beetle is the biggest threat to the dalo industry, which earned $19million in export revenue last year.
It is estimated 40 per cent of dalo harvested is unmarketable because of damage caused by the beetle.
Several other insecticides were tested using typical grower techniques as SPC and ACIAR research scientists worked with Ministry of Agriculture staff to identify relevant control measures. Farmers were continuously consulted on their views on the use of the insecticides.
Recent testing of the two insecticides was carried out on fields, with an emphasis on following safety rules for mixing chemicals.
These on-farm trials, in Naitasiri, Ovalau, Navua and Tailevu, gave farmers hands-on experience in learning the correct techniques for mixing and applying the chemicals.
SPC staff and Koronivia research staff worked together to fine-tune the dosage for applying the chemicals.
The pesticide is applied at planting time then at three-month intervals.
At the launch, more farmers will have a chance to see first hand how the insecticide is mixed and how to apply it. They will practice the mixing procedure to give them confidence in safe handling of the chemicals.
AgChem and MH Ltd are the local firms that registered Imidaclorprid under the names Suncloprid and Confidor.
Their representatives will be available to explain the proper handling of chemicals to people in Fijian and Hindi at the launch.
The two companies will have on display other products used for dalo cultivation.
Fiji Agromarketing chief executive Epi Tulele said when the dalo plants were infested it could not be marketed and, therefore, had a negative impact on farmers.
Mr Tulele said they simply avoided buying infested dalo. "To make sure our products are safe we have stringent measures in place and we really check the crops we market.
"We empty all dalo bags and examine each one to make sure there are no holes when we bring it from the farmers," he said.
Mr Tulele said when the dalo on Viti Levu was infested with beetles they started buying supplies from Taveuni farmers.
"Taveuni dalo farmers breached the gap so it did not directly affect export markets when production from Viti Levu was reduced because of the beetles."
He said every now and again there was an oversupply or shortage of dalo so farmers were encouraged to plant more to meet the growing demand.
Mr Tulele said the breakthrough in solving the beetle problem would benefit subsistence farmers, more than commercial farmers.
He said while the overseas dalo market was competitive, it was well serviced by suppliers. The opportunity to expand overseas markets is limited and a lot of people prefer Taveuni dalo. But more supply is certainly needed for our local outlets."
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Posted 2:43 PM by Luigi
Carotenoid content of pandanus fruit cultivars and other foods of the Republic of Kiribati
Dr Lois Englberger says she now has a pdf of this paper in Public Health Nutrition: 9(5), 631–643.
Lois Englberger, William Aalbersberg, Usaia Dolodolotawake, Joseph Schierle, Julia Humphries, Tinai Iuta, Geoffrey C Marks, Maureen H Fitzgerald, Betarim Rimon and Mamarau Kaiririete
Submitted 1 March 2005: Accepted 10 August 2005
Background: Kiribati, a remote atoll island country of the Pacific, has serious problems of vitamin A deficiency (VAD). Thus, it is important to identify locally grown acceptable foods that might be promoted to alleviate this problem. Pandanus fruit (Pandanus tectorius) is a well-liked indigenous Kiribati food with many cultivars that have orange/yellow flesh, indicative of carotenoid content. Few have been previously analysed.
Aim: This study was conducted to identify cultivars of pandanus and other foods that could be promoted to alleviate VAD in Kiribati.
Method: Ethnography was used to select foods and assess acceptability factors. Pandanus and other foods were analysed for b- and a-carotene, b-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene and total carotenoids using high-performance liquid chromatography.
Results: Of the nine pandanus cultivars investigated there was a great range of provitamin A carotenoid levels (from 62 to 19 086mg b-carotene/100 g), generally with higher levels in those more deeply coloured. Seven pandanus cultivars, one giant swamp taro (Cyrtosperma chamissonis) cultivar and native fig (Ficus tinctoria) had significant provitamin A carotenoid content, meeting all or half of estimated daily vitamin A requirements within normal consumption patterns. Analyses in different laboratories confirmed high carotenoid levels in pandanus but showed that there are still questions as to how high the levels might be, owing to variation arising from different handling/preparation/analytical techniques.
Conclusions: These carotenoid-rich acceptable foods should be promoted for alleviating VAD in Kiribati and possibly other Pacific contexts where these foods are important. Further research in the Pacific is needed to identify additional indigenous foods with potential health benefits.
Agrobiodiversity Weblog: For discussions of conservation and sustainable use of the genetic resources of crops, livestock and their wild relatives.