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, September 28, 2006
Posted 2:24 PM by Luigi
Putting coconut to good use in Solomon Islands
Submitted by Arthur Wate on 28 September 2006, Solomon Star News.
LAST week Honiara was alive with the hosting of the National Trade and Cultural Show in Honiara.
The showcasing of local products has been the highlight of the show, which aims to show what the local market has to offer to any interested buyers.
Solomon Islands is blessed with immense resources as highlighted by the Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare during his opening address of the show.
He said Solomon Islands must be proud of its resources and at the same time take stock in using them sustainably.
One of the most promoted products during the week long festival was coconut.
Posted 2:04 PM by Luigi
Promoting taro in NZ
Press Release: Pacific Islands Trade and Investment Commission, 27 September 2006
Taro is the pacific ingredient featuring in the newly created "Island Influences" class sponsored by the Pacific Islands Trade & Investment Commission at this years NZ Culinary Fare.
Held from the 8th - 10th October at the ASB Showgrounds it is an unmissable event on the hospitality calendar with all the country's outstanding chefs vying for NZ's national titles and all sectors of the service industry are involved - over 1,000 of the country's top performing chefs, sommeliers, waiters, baristas and hospitality students competing in front of live crowds and 140 top industry experts.
Taro - A traditional root crop that has been cultivated for over 2000 years, underpins the traditional Polynesian culture of shared labour and extended families.
Whilst the taro plantations provide plenty of hard work, the traditional umu is the pacific stage for taro and is a tradition that even children delight in being involved in! (pictured - Samoan children carrying taro to the umu) We extend a warm pacific invitation to family and friends to experience TARO as showcased by NZ's top chefs at the NZ Culinary Fare - Island Influences Class on Tuesday 10th October at 12.30pm, ASB Showgrounds, Greenlane.
The NZ Culinary Fare is a free event open to the public.
Come and enjoy an island influences experience!
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Posted 5:25 PM by Luigi
Control of kava dieback
Drom Dr Richard Davis, SPC Virologist.
Tomorrow (28 September), the Fiji Ministry of Agriculture and SPC LRD will together officially launch the kava dieback disease integrated pest management package. It is a set of simple cultural control measures that kava growers can use to beat their worst production problem: a disease caused by a virus, but only when the virus acts in combination with other things.
These interacting factors make things a little complex, but the bottom line is that the package involves no chemicals, and sits nicely in a sustainable agroforestry setting.
The package is a result of about four years of collaborative research, with a strong participatory emphasis, -paid for by the EU and the Fiji Govt.
We finalised the whole thing at the start of the year and put it straight into an SPC pest advisory leaflet, then also into a Fiji Ministry leaflet.
However, we soon realised that few farmers really knew of its existence. Tomorrow's official launch with all associated ceremony and publicity aims to fix that.
We are bussing kava farmers and extension officers from many far flung corners of Viti Levu to one kava farm in Tailevu. It is only two minutes out of Korovou town, so not hard to get to from here. Other kava farmers and extension officers are coming from nearby islands like Ovalau, Kadavu, etc.
In Tailevu tomorrow, we plan to 'hands on' demonstrate what we are talking about. Information material will be full colour leaflets and posters in English and Fijian.
Posted 5:14 PM by Luigi
Funky Things with Poi
From Spirit of Aloha Features, September/October 2006.
By Rita Ariyoshi
Great chefs tackle the flavors of East Maui
"The further a Hawaiian gets from the taro, the less Hawaiian he is," John Lind said as he stomped in the mud, then bent over cradling a taro plant in one hand and expertly pulling it with the other. Like the rest of us, he was barefoot and adorned in mud to his thighs. The difference was that John pulled two or three plants to our one, because taro was his life, his passion, and he knew it well. The rest of us were Saturday farmers, dabbling in the terraces, the lo'i, as part of an epicurean adventure staged by the casually luxe Hotel Hana-Maui.
Food and wine festivals pop up all over the calendar these days, like champagne corks at a big wedding. I signed on for "Hana-A Reflection of Place: The Flavors of East Maui," because I knew anything happening in Hana would be unique.
And there I was, playing in the mud and loving it, my Prada sneakers parked in the grass beside the lo'i.
One Saturday farmer, mud beneath her manicure, said, "It's like working with chocolate. The mud has such marvelous viscosity."
A large Hawaiian man on holiday from his executive day- job said, "It's like a spa treatment. If I didn't have to get back in the van, I'd flop right down on my back and really enjoy it."
This was the excursion for Day Two of our culinary caper. With John's wife, Tweetie, as our guide, we had hiked uphill through dense green forest from the Kipahulu Visitor Center in Haleakala National Park to Kapahu Living Farm.
John and Tweetie are part of the Kipahulu 'Ohana, a nonprofit organization formed in 1995 by Native Hawaiians with genealogical ties to Kipahulu.
They have a working partnership with the National Park Service to restore the ancient taro lo'i that once flourished at Kipahulu. They also promote traditional Hawaiian culture and develop culturally sensitive economic opportunities for the area. To accomplish all this, they have regularly scheduled workdays involving the Hana-Kipahulu community in the lo'i. Groups of senior citizens, schoolchildren, troubled youth and court-ordered, community-service workers come from all over Maui to learn and participate.
Tweetie is a 58-year-old grandmother with long grey-black hair. She regularly hikes with visitors from the park base to the farm. Her roots in this part of Maui go back 10 generations. When she spoke of Kipahulu, tears filled her eyes: "In the old days, before Safeway, the Hawaiian was the land, the land was him. He came from the taro, from land and water.
Aloha 'aina-love of the land- is a complete relationship with your sustenance."
This intimate connection of people with their food and the land from which it came was a recurring theme of the Hana food festival. Lily Boerner, who owns Ono Organic Farm with her husband, Chuck, said, "The family farm is the heart of the world. Good food, humanely raised, is of vital national importance. What we put on our land affects our neighbor, our neighbor's water, our neighbor's garden. If we used chemicals on our crops, the reef in the ocean would be ruined, the pools along the way would be polluted. We have to malama [care for] the land.
You can walk barefoot in our fields and not get sick." Area farmers, she said, have agreed that Kipahulu is a GMO-free zone. GMO means genetically modified organism. She urges people to buy from local family farms and to frequent farmers' markets. "The average food product in the store travels an average of 1,500 miles."
Chuck and Lily have been married and working together for 25 years. They grow 50 or 60 kinds of crops on land Lily calls "a slightly organized jungle." She bragged, "We throw away one garbage can a week and that goes to a friend's pig."
Twice a week, on Monday and Thursday afternoons, the Boerners welcome visitors for a farm tour, which includes exotic-fruit tastings. What you sample depends on the season. We tried juicy lychee, papaya, three kinds of mango, cherimoya, soursop and a strange fruit called choco, which tasted like root beer. "We're trying to perfect cinnamon and chocolate," Lily said. We also sampled fudge Lily had made that morning from her own cacao beans. The Boerners will be rich and beloved if they can do to chocolate what they did to jack fruit.
Their fortitude comes naturally. Chuck's 95-year-old mother makes jams and jellies from the farm's fruit. On Thursdays, Chuck drives her to Hana, where she sits beside the road and sells her now-famous strawberry jam. Chuck goes surfing and picks up his mom and her profits on the way home.
Lily does the marketing for the crops. "I'm on the phone twice a week to the local chefs. 'Hi,"
I say, 'We've got mountain apples. You can make crisps.' Every chef wants to have a cutting edge on the other chefs."
David Patterson, executive chef at Hotel Hana-Maui, said, "The farmers and fishermen are fellow culinarians. They inspire the food. It's easy for us in Hawai'i to have really healthy food with all the fresh fruits and vegetables and the fish out of the water only a couple of hours.
When it's that easy, it becomes hard to make bad food. You have to break away from that deep fryer."
The dinner menu in the hotel's Kau'iki Dining Room changes nightly to take advantage of the freshest ingredients. One evening's specials included onaga caught by the Lind family, asparagus from O'ahu prepared with Maui Meyer lemon and local olive oil, bamboo shoots from Kipahulu, vegetables from David Ishii's farm in Kula, and Surinam cherries from the hotel grounds.
Patterson said: "A fisherman will call me on the phone. 'Hey, I've got a hundred pounds of mahi.'
I love that. It's a dream. My sous chef, Troy Baker-Sato, is teaching me to spear fish. I love to find out about weird tropical fruits. The Meyer lemons came from lower Nahiku. Then, I got a call from a guy who said his tree had 5,000 pounds of lemons. David and Dora Ishii are raising crops for me. I talked to them and said I needed to find someone to grow beets. Now they harvest 10 pounds a week, plus cauliflower, broccoli and tomatoes. They're really excited.
"I used to be happy doing mashed potatoes," added David. "Now? I do funky things with poi. I want to use the people's food, to complement what's happening in Hana. Local people are passionate about their food. You feel the connection. I'd be crazy to come here and make soufflés and foie gras."
For the opening dinner of the food festival, David and his staff prepared an amuse bouche of Kipahulu pumpkin-tip tempura with Big Island wasabi root and dashi foam. The soup was Kipahulu corn soup with oranges and begonias, followed by a salad of Laulima Farms butter lettuce with lacy, crispy crostini. Raw fish came next in the form of Hana-caught ahi tartare with local vegetable crudités and ginger aioli. The main course was another Hana-caught fish, mahimahi, served with taro and coconut-lime sauce. Dessert, prepared by David's wife, Aima, the pastry chef, was coconut mousse and corn cake.
It was only the opening salvo of evening feasts that ran to a dozen or more courses, all paired with appropriate wines. Prominent guest chefs, invited for the occasion, went wild with local ingredients, creating innovative dishes. "We gave them free rein," David said.
With great energy and enthusiasm, each chef discussed the dishes he had prepared, as they were served.
Susur Lee, one of the world's leading chefs, originally from Hong Kong and lately of Toronto, opened his eponymous restaurant, Susur, in 2000.
He was so taken with Hawaiian ingredients that he put 19 of them in his salad. "I tried to use everything-taro, apricots, ume."
The salad course was a sensation, the talk of the evening, overshadowing Susur's monchong with macadamia nuts, and even his Emperor's Rice Pudding with eggfruit and coconut, Kona coffee and Kahlua sorbet. Of the dessert, Susur said, "I thought I knew everything on Earth about fruit.
But eggfruit? It really tastes like egg yolk."
Chef Edward Tuson from the Sooke Harbour House in British Columbia looked every inch the eccentric chef, with an Abe Lincoln beard and a Mohawk haircut. His was the third course, supposed to be a chilled star apple and kaffir lime soup, but, Tuson said, "It got thicker when it got cold, so what you've got is a 'blomb' kind of limey." We all wondered what he meant by that. Sitting in the center was a roll of thinly sliced Kobe beef with watermelon, celery sprouts and lime jelly.
The sound of spoons delicately scraping the last drop from bowls was testimony that, soup or blomb, it was exquisite.
Chef Craig von Forester from Sierra Mar Restaurant at Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, Calif., echoed the thoughts of others on the relationship of people to their food. "There's a vibrance in fresh food. I was prawning the other night with the other visiting chefs. It's amazing that none of us were speared. You go out at night with a flashlight shining in the water and the eyes of the fish glow back at you. We built a fire on Hamoa Beach and cooked them. Seeing how local people care about what they're eating, it all starts there. When I lived here 16 years ago, I hoped one day I could stay in a place like this hotel." He added, "Back then, most of restaurant and hotel food came from the Mainland and all the chefs were German or French doing classic continental cuisine. Hawai'i has come a long way."
Craig is passionate about his career. "If you're not giddy about what you're doing, do something else. A lot of culinary grads don't take time to develop a palate. They've got all that book knowledge in their heads, but not their hands.
Your hands have to feel the physical aspect of the ingredients. Without sounding too Big-Surish, the old chefs are aware of the spiritual aspects of food. We are linked to our food."
Cal Stamenov believes in the link. At his Marinus Restaurant at Bernadus Lodge in Carmel, Calif., he has his own vineyard out front and 3 acres of garden. "I love farming. It's my hobby." It was his first time in Hana, but, as he said, "I never want to leave. Everything grows so fast. The people are so nice and sincere."
He added, "What I noticed is there's a growing culinary scene here. Once the farmers kick in, it will really snowball. It's all moving in that direction."
Family farms are dear to him. "They put so much more care into what they grow, as opposed to conveyor belt farming."
That care was evident in every one of the 13 courses served that evening at the festival dinner. The sixth course was Cal's mahimahi with white miso and taro leaves, paired with Roccolo Grassi, Amarone, Venetro, Italy, 2000. Other memorable courses were the 11th, Big Island rack of lamb and Laulima Farm arugula; the 12th, Upcountry goat cheese with a fennel tart tatin; and dessert, Kula lemon verbena ice cream with mango, lime and tapioca.
Cal summed up the experience of the guest chefs:
"I thought I was coming here to be an inspiration to others. However, the people of Hana have been more of an inspiration to me."
Then I remembered what John Lind had said, quietly, with his characteristic humility. "We're sons and daughters of God, trying to create Heaven on Earth."
PO Box 454, Hana, HI 96713
Monday, September 25, 2006
Posted 8:17 PM by Luigi
Cyrtosperma and other local foods in Pohnpei
From Dr Lois Englberger.
Here below are recent items shared with Claudia David, V6AH Radio of Pohnpei. They relate to the rich mineral content of giant swamp taro, or mwahng (Cyrtosperma) and the LET’S GO LOCAL CLUB activities. Claudia has shared with me that the items were broadcast last week according to their regular news broadcasts, at 12 noon, 3 pm and 7 pm, in English and Pohnpeian.
An exciting thing about the Let’s Go Local Club item is that the students themselves were involved in writing their news item. Thank you to Marvin Obispo and his group!
Perhaps some of you here on Pohnpei have heard these items on the radio!! We look forward to comments and hope that this may be a way of broadening our target audience and promoting healthy and tasty local island foods!
Thank you again Claudia and also to Marvin and all the Let’s Go Local Club members!
Recent studies on giant swamp taro (or mwahng) by the Island Food Community of Pohnpei shows that there are a number of varieties rich in the essential minerals iron, zinc, and calcium. This is confirmed by scientific analyses on Pohnpei samples carried out in laboratories in mainland United States and Australia. Iron is needed for building strong blood, zinc is needed for fighting infection, and calcium is needed for strong bones and teeth. Mwahng contains almost 10 times the level of these minerals as compared to rice, the common imported food. Mwahng could significantly contribute to an adult’s estimated daily requirements of these minerals along with a consumption of about two cups in the morning and two cups in the evening.
On September 12, 2006, the “Let’s Go Local Club” made up of high school students had their second round of community service work focusing on teaching about the high values of local food. There were a total of 23 students, including 10 new recruits. They first met at the Pohnpei Upward Bound office. A short humorous presentation was made by Miuky Paul, Gidson Santos and Marvin Obispo, for refreshing old members’ memories about the Pohnpei Carotenoid-rich Foods poster and training the new members. After this, the students set off around Kolonia for distributing and teaching about the posters, all wearing their green Let’s Go Local t-shirts. One of the most interesting encounters was that of the group led by Marvin Obispo, explaining the poster to a class of around 20 students at the Lady of Mercy school, as taught by Sister Gloria. She was so interested in the presentation that she invited the students to come back again. The next meeting of the Let’s Go Local Club is on 7 October and new members are also invited. Kalahngan!!
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 6:02 PM by Luigi
Pacific island mangroves in a changing climate and rising sea
Securing the South Pacific's mangroves against climate change
by UNEP; SPREP; WPRFMC / United Nations [UN] Environment Programme (UNEP) , 2006
Mangrove ecosystems provide important and valuable services and products to Pacific Island communities, but are under threat from changing environmental conditions. This publication highlights results and recommendations from a study determining mangrove vulnerability and how Pacific island nations can adapt to mangrove responses to climate change effects. Adaptation elements include community-based approaches, integrated coastal zone management, building increased mangrove resistance and resilience, and outreach activities.
The report finds that:
Download the report here.
Posted 2:47 PM by Luigi
Allen Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution
One of the objectives of the Centre is "Pacific biodiversity and human impacts." Markers are bring identified for both kumara (sweet potato) and the New Zealand gourd (hue). Both plants are suggested to have been brought back from South America by early Polynesian navigators. The first stage is to develop new molecular markers to help establish the origin of each variety. An important sweet potato collection from Papua New Guinea is being studies and access to additional gourd collections has been arranged.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Posted 5:11 PM by Luigi
USP publication on traditional medicine in the Marshall Islands
Taafaki, Irene J., Maria Kabua Fowler, and Randolph R. Thaman. 2006. Traditional Medicine of the Marshall Islands: The Women, the Treatments, the Plants. Suva: Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific. 318 pages. ISBN: 978-982-02-0378-5 (pb).
"Describes more than 270 traditional medicinal treatments, all of whichuse the plants of the Marshall Islands, and provides a biogeographical,historical and anthropological context, with a particular focus on theuse of traditional medicine for the treatement of women."
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Posted 3:35 PM by Luigi
Unique foods of the Pacific
Here are some exciting news!! The high nutrient values of unique foods from Pohnpei, Kosrae, Chuuk and Yap of the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Kiribati are being highlighted this week in Honolulu, Hawaii, September 19 and 20, 2006, as part of the 30th National Nutrient Databank Conference (NNDC). This was planned to coincide partly with the American Dietetic Association (ADA) Food and Nutrition Conference and Exposition, see the details on the NNDC at the ADA website:
Dr. Suzanne Murphy, co-chair of the session titled “Unique Foods of the Pacific”, has invited me to participate and give an oral presentation. The title is “Provitamin A carotenoids in bananas? The surprisingly high level of micronutrients in several staple foods from Micronesia.”
To summarize, I will present about the rich micronutrient content in bananas (uht), giant swamp taro (mwahng), and pandanus (kipar or deipw). All three are rich in provitamin A carotenoids. Giant swamp taro is also particularly rich in minerals, and Karat (banana) is rich in riboflavin or vitamin B2.
There are a number of co-authors including Adelino Lorens from Pohnpei, Julia Alfred from the Marshall Islands, Tinai Iuta from Kiribati, and researchers from the laboratories, including Dr. Bill Aalbersberg from the University of the South Pacific, Dr. Joseph Schierle and Dr. Peter Hofmann from DSM Nutritional Products, Dr. Julia Humphries from the University of Adelaide, and Dr. Alvin Huang from the University of Hawaii.
Thank you Suzanne for inviting me and allowing us to share about the exciting news of the rich nutrient content of local island foods. Thank you also to all those people assisting in the sample collection and description and to the funding agencies making this work possible including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention/UNICEF, Sight and Life, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.
Lois Englberger, PhD
Island Food Community of Pohnpei
P. O. Box 2299
Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941 FM
Tel: 691-320-8639 Fax: 691-320-4647
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Posted 7:32 PM by Luigi
Banana market study in Pohnpei
From Dr Lois Englberger
We are happy to share with you below a copy of our article just released in the Kaselehlie Press (local newspaper)! This was an exciting project as it provides the first recent data on locally marketed foods…see the words of our IFCP Chairman and Chief of Agriculture, Adelino Lorens.
For those of you on the island, you may be interested in the actual article as there is an accompanying photo. In addition, we have a fuller report of the project, including tables and photos of the markets.
Here again we would like to thank all those assisting, in particular, the participating markets and Angela Parvanta, University of Hawaii intern for IFCP, who led the data collection, analysis, and write-up! Thanks also to Kaselehlie Press for your continued support!
Pohnpei Banana Market Study Presents Baseline Data
By Lois Englberger
An impressive total of 48,251 pounds of banana was purchased by 14 local markets from farmers during an 8-week period June to August 2006, as documented in the Pohnpei Banana Market Study. This project was coordinated by the Island Food Community of Pohnpei (IFCP) and the Pohnpei Office of Economic Affairs, with initial assistance by the College of Micronesia-FSM Land Grant Program.
Most of the bananas marketed were Utin Menihle and Utin Ruk. Only 12% (5888 pounds) of the total consisted of the beta-carotene rich yellow-fleshed varieties. Still, the study showed that a diversity of banana varieties was marketed, including 17 in all.
The purpose of the study was to provide baseline data on both the volumes and varieties of banana marketed. This will be useful for the campaign in promoting local food and the rare yellow-fleshed banana varieties, which are particularly rich in nutrient content.
Angela Parvanta, University of Hawaii student doing an internship with IFCP, led the data collection and analysis, along with Lymer Yamada, assisting as part of the WIA student program. Angela said, “The market people were friendly and helpful. I went every day to the markets, Monday through Friday, and the market staff provided the information as recorded in their receipt books.”
Adelino Lorens, Chief of Agriculture, pointed out, “As most local markets are open 6 days per week, this 8-week study shows that about 1000 pounds of bananas are being supplied daily to the local markets, and this does not include all markets. Also this is during the slower summer months. The study is also important as it provides the first recent data on Pohnpei food crops marketed locally.”
The market study documented the volume of banana purchased by variety and market, and also showed how many markets were marketing each specific variety.
Karat, the State Banana of Pohnpei, was marketed by eight markets (over half), which is quite an achievement as no market was selling Karat in 1998 when the campaign started.
Data were also collected on the volume of marketed giant swamp taro (Cyrtosperma), which is another highly nutritious local food. In total for a five-week period, 1037 pounds of this food crop were marketed by five markets.
As a token of appreciation, Let’s Go Local t-shirts were provided to market staff members participating in the study, as well as color photographs, showing their respective markets. Thanks are again extended to the 14 participating markets, University of Hawaii, WIA Program, Sight and Life and the New Zealand Embassy supporting this study.
Caption to the accompanying photo in newspaper article: Merlain Alik shows her impressive display of local food crops, available for sale at her IGCM Market in Kolonia.
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 7:27 PM by Luigi
The Greenpeace campaign against Rimbunan Hijau
In the 16 Sept. issue of The Australian, Alan Oxley says Greenpeace is using misleading claims to cut down logging.
GREENPEACE is running a campaign that is raising eyebrows. It is accusing one large company of rape, enslaving its workers, abusing human rights, employing police brutality and corruption. In the worst criticism Greenpeace heaped on Shell over oil drilling in the North Sea and on Monsanto for developing and selling genetically modified oilseeds, it never resorted to such abuse. So who is the target now?
It is a company called Rimbunan Hijau, one of the largest foreign investors in Papua New Guinea and its largest forestry business. Greenpeace's attack on the company is a proxy attack on commercial forestry in PNG, which it wants to stop. Greenpeace has been joined by the Centre for Environmental Law and Conservation in PNG and the Australian Conservation Foundation. A recently released CELCOR-ACF report claims to present new evidence of the human rights abuses of the forestry industry. But all that is new are claims of five instances of abuse in nine years, all of which are unsubstantiated.
Conveniently, CELCOR and ACF report the complainants need to remain anonymous for their own safety. This means that none of the claims can be tested for truthfulness. Otherwise, the report repeats old claims, some of which have been made for a decade, about corruption, sexual abuse and enslavement in forestry in PNG. It repeats unsubstantiated reports published by Greenpeace in the past four years and unsubstantiated claims of human rights abuse in PNG aired by SBS, which has since removed the transcript of the program from its website.
To freshen the green campaign, the CELCOR-ACF report carries insinuations that Australian military forces and forestry companies are responsible for distribution of arms throughout PNG. This is a calculated distortion of an ugly reality in PNG. Personal safety in the country has never been poorer. Businesses across the country are calling in help from police forces to keep order. For forestry (and other) companies operating in remote environments, this is crucial. These businesses frequently transport citizens, officials and firefighters.
If Greenpeace succeeds in this campaign, it will be bad luck for the poor. Commercial forestry is an important contributor to PNG's economy. Evidently Greenpeace considers it is better to be poor and green than to reduce poverty and educate children.
Rimbunan Hijau is a Malaysia-based group whose activities include the biggest forestry business in PNG. Greenpeace says the company is "acting as ruthless robber barons, plundering the rainforest with impunity" and that most of the company's logging (and therefore most logging in PNG) is illegal.
Greenpeace is also trying to orchestrate global pressure against the company. Recently, activists climbed on top of the Cabinet Office in London and called on British Prime Minister Tony Blair to stop imports of timber from PNG because Greenpeace has labelled them illegal. In Australia it is lobbying the Government to do the same thing.
The organisation also wants a global consumer boycott. It has accused the chief executive of one of the largest timber importers in Britain of complicity in the destruction of PNG's forests by importing PNG timber. The company has buckled and agreed not to buy any more.
The PNG Government vehemently denies that most forestry activity in its country is illegal. Our consultancy has completed an exhaustive analysis of these claims and concluded the PNG Government is right. There have been irregularities in forestry administration, as expected in a low-income developing country, and they have been corrected.
The way Greenpeace decides what is illegal is a set-up. It contends logging is illegal if, at the time it occurs, not all relevant government laws and regulations have been fully applied, not all provisions of all relevant international treaties have been implemented and not all relevant (presumably according to Greenpeace) human rights and labour rights have been provided.
Consider what this means. If a government agency doesn't do its job properly, any transaction made by a business operating under regulations administered by that agency is illegal. In our system of law, everybody enjoys the presumption of innocence. The way Greenpeace seems to want it, someone is automatically guilty if a government official is incompetent. This is a ruse. When applied in a poor, developing country where all government administration is rickety, it reflects a callous calculation.
Greenpeace's rhetoric stands in stark contrast to the hollowness of its claims. PNG is lush with forests; they cover 65per cent of the country. Greenpeace claims these forests could be cleared within a decade. That is impossible. Only 31 per cent of PNG forests have been marked for commercial use; that is, forestry and clearance for agriculture. Among the remaining forest, 5 per cent has been reserved to protect biodiversity and 37 per cent remains unallocated. PNG's forests are not endangered, nor is its natural biodiversity.
We also examined every one of Greenpeace's allegations of rape, police brutality and abuse of labour rights and corruption made against the company. We concluded they are baseless or cannot be properly substantiated. Greenpeace says the company practises slavery. The PNG labour department reported that the targeted company pays its work force 2.7 times the PNG minimum wage. Slavers don't do that.
The allegation of police brutality is based on claims by one former police officer who has left the country. Forestry companies in PNG work closely with the police. Greenpeace well knows that law enforcement breaks down regularly in parts of PNG. Forestry businesses regularly transport police to remote areas because they have aircraft, while the police don't. They are performing a public service.
Greenpeace wants commercial logging in PNG's native forests replaced with eco-forestry or subsistence forestry. Yet the consequences would be immense. The commercial forestry industry in PNG employs about 10,000 people, generates about 5 per cent of the economy, earns about $250 million year in exports and adds $100 million to tax revenues. In addition, companies such as Rimbunan Hijau provide roads, airfields, air services, wharves and schools and medical clinics in remote areas.
Not only would this all be lost if the industry were closed down, but the PNG Government would have to subsidise the replacement eco-forestry. For 10 years there have been efforts to demonstrate the commercial viability of eco-forestry in PNG and all have failed. Even WWF (formerly the World Wide Fund for Nature), Greenpeace's partner in its forestry campaigns, says eco-forestry can succeed only if government pays for it.
PNG needs more growth and revenue, not less. Seventy per cent of people in PNG live on less than $US2 ($2.66) a day. Three out of four children in rural areas do not go to school. The Asian Development Bank reported in 2004 that, per capita, gross domestic product in PNG was 10 per cent lower than in 1975.
Recently, Patrick Pruaitch, PNG's Minister for Forests, said that if Greenpeace had its way, "the people of PNG would pay the price". He said the Government would resist efforts by international green non-government organisations to weaken PNG's economy.
What is driving Greenpeace to propose such a strategy? It opposes commercial forestry in natural bush, yet there is no environmental science that tells us this is necessary. Native forests can be sustainably logged, as they are in Australia. PNG has plenty of forest to get the environmental balance right.
To Greenpeace, PNG is just a pawn in a bigger campaign. For more than 15 years, Greenpeace and WWF have hankered for a global forest convention to implement their goal of replacing commercial forestry with eco-forestry worldwide. Only some European countries support this. Developing countries mistrust their motives and the US does not support it. So the strategy is to whip up concern about illegal logging and goad governments into using trade sanctions to bring developing countries to heel.
Alan Oxley is principal of ITS Global, consultants on global issues, who recently analysed the forestry situation in PNG for Rimbunan Hijau and produced a report on the industry's economic importance.
Two ITS reports, The Economic Importance of the Forestry Industry to PNG and Whatever It Takes: Greenpeace's Anti-Forestry Campaign in PNG:
The Greenpeace reports:
WWF reports and news:
Australian Conservation Foundation:
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Posted 7:10 PM by Luigi
'Managing Change' theme of SPC Regional Meeting
Press Release: Secretariat of the Pacific Community, 14 September 2006.
The 2nd Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services (HOAFS) Meeting, to be held in Nadi, 18-22 September, at Tanoa International, will focus on ‘Managing Change’, the theme for this year’s gathering of agricultural CEOs from the 22 member countries and territories of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
The Meeting will be officially opened by Hon Gyani Nand, Fiji Minster for Agriculture.
HOAFS is the advisory body to the integrated agriculture and forestry programme being implemented by SPC’s Land Resources Division (LRD). Previously, SPC’s agricultural services, including support for forestry, animal production, plant genetic resources and plant protection, were delivered independently of each other. Recognising that new thinking was needed to achieve more sustainable land management and facilitate trade, these services have now been integrated under a single management structure and the LRD – with the help of its partner organisations – is putting into action a strategy for managing the rapid environmental and socio-economic changes that are set to dominate management of land resources in the Pacific in the coming decades. A critical aspect of the strategy is the need to mitigate the effects of change and support adaptation to changed conditions.
Delegates will discuss the theme of Managing Change under the broad topics of Biodiversity, Health and Nutrition, Agriculture and Forestry Commodity Trade, Atoll Agriculture and Forestry and Climate Change and Food Security. In the future, pressures such as climate change will mean that many of our crop varieties will not be adapted to the new conditions, the distributions of some useful native forest species will shrink, and those of some exotic pests and invasives will expand. Devastating pests and diseases – of crops, livestock and humans – will not be kept at bay forever in the face of changes in climates and the ever easier movement of people and goods, despite the best efforts of quarantine services.
Coping with change will need to be accompanied by sustained effort to reverse the trend of poor economic performance across the region. Regional economic integration and thus increased regional and international trade are important goals for the region. The LRD is therefore positioning itself to contribute more to trade facilitation beyond its current efforts to improve the region’s capacity to deal with biosecurity issues. New areas of assistance to countries will include increasing the competitiveness of products in the market place through consistent supplies of quality products; improving access to and understanding of market and production related information including agriculture and forestry trade statistics; and post-harvest and downstream processing.
Delegates will also review on-going LRD projects including Development of Sustainable Agriculture in the Pacific (DSAP), Plant Protection in the Pacific (PPP) and LRD/GTZ Community-based Natural Resources Management. The LRD is developing partnerships and meeting new challenges for the Pacific region through initiating new projects including the Pacific Regional Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Project (PRIPP), Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade (FACT), Pacific Ant Prevention Programme (PAPP), Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees, Pacific Agriculture and Forestry Policy Network (PAFPNet), Sustainable Land Management and Land Care Concept for the Pacific, Organic Agriculture and the Pacific Regional Crops Improvement Program.
The meeting will end with regional delegates endorsing the LRD’s work programme for the next two years.
The LRD’s main partner organisations and donors include AusAID, NZAID, France, EU and GTZ.
Posted 1:44 PM by Luigi
Noni juice approved
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has approved noni juice for human consumption following concerns that it might cause acute hepatitis. The juice, which comes from a fruit grown in the Pacific basin, was approved for the food and drink market in 2003 but the Austrian authorities questioned the side-effects following a number of case reports, leading to the EFSA assessment.
CTA has collaborated with the CDE in support of the small-producers of Noni in the Pacific.
Related links :
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Posted 6:13 PM by Luigi
Thieves take off with rare banana plants
By Christie Wilson, Honolulu Advertiser Neighbor Island Editor
KAHULUI, Maui — Thieves uprooted and removed about a dozen young variegated banana stalks from the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens last week, setting back production of the rare native plant by two years.
The plants' leaves and fruit have a striking green and white coloration that is highly prized. The plant's unique striping was the result of a mutation that occurred "who knows how many hundreds of years ago," said Lisa Schattenburg-Raymond, executive director of the nonprofit gardens.
"During ancient times, it was perpetuated by Hawaiian farmers and reserved for ali'i consumption because it was so unusual."
Thieves apparently used a machete and hammer to dig up and separate the banana keiki from the mother plant, which was on public display. "The fact that this rare and valuable banana variety was targeted leads us to believe that it is someone familiar with the gardens and involved with the landscaping industry," Schattenburg-Raymond said.
There were two reported break-ins at Maui Nui Botanical Gardens. The first occurred Sept. 4, when five 70-pound bales of Sunshine No. 4 potting mix, several large pots and a large container of Roundup herbicide were reported stolen. The following night, security gates were damaged, doors on pesticide and tool sheds were broken, and $1,000 worth of chemicals, a drill, a new radio and a wagon were reported stolen.
The wagon, loaded with some of the items, was found the next morning hidden in some bushes at adjacent Keopuolani Park, Schattenburg-Raymond said. Also inside the wagon were shade cloth and items reported taken from the county's plant nursery, located behind the botanical gardens, she said.
Maui Nui Botanical Gardens sells variegated banana plants to the public when they are available. Two such plants were offered during the organization's August plant sale, with a 5-foot specimen selling for $125, well below its commercial value.
"It's still very rare and not a lot of people have them. We're trying to make them available. That's our mission: to get rare and unavailable plants back into the community so they can be enjoyed and perpetuated," Schattenburg-Raymond said.
Anyone with information on the thefts is asked to call the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens at (808) 249-2798 or the Maui Police Department nonemergency number, (808) 244-6400.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Posted 2:35 PM by Luigi
News from PNG
From 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 (email@example.com), PNG National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI).
Use your land to grow more coconuts
Farmers should grow more coconuts to boost the coconut industry and take advantage of the huge potential, including the opportunities in downstream processing. People with access to land should take up the challenge to grow coconuts or redevelop rundown coconut blocks and plantations for the sake of the future generation. These were the words of the Acting Secretary for Agriculture and Livestock, Anton Benjamin, during the recent World Coconut Day celebrations in Madang.
When delivering the keynote address on behalf of Agriculture and Livestock Minister, Sasa Zibe, Mr Benjamin also called on farmers to utilize their land for coconut development. He further challenged landowners not to sell land for short term gains.
The two day celebrations which was organised by the Cocoa Coconut Institute and Kokonas Indastri Koporesen saw a range of activities including displays of high value products of coconut, demonstration of direct micro expeller, pollination and seed nut production of coconut.
Mr Benjamin told a large crowd at the Stewart Research Station at Murnas near Madang town that the coconut industry has huge potential which has never been fully realized. He said global market trends and developments in downstream processing presents the industry with numerous opportunities and challenges for growth.
Mr Benjamin said the PNG coconut industry is well placed to immediately tap into the numerous bio-energy opportunities that are now coming on line in the global markets. However, PNG needs to respond immediately in establishing systems and coordinating production systems to maximize benefits from coconut downstream processing products.
He said the Government recognizes the significant role the coconut industry has played in ensuring household and national food security and economic and social well-being, and is supporting current initiatives to promote and encourage downstream processing of coconuts. The Government also encourages partnership among the local communities, the private sector and provincial governments to develop programmes and to mobilize smallholder farmers. Furthermore, the Government has put in place a number of incentives which include funding for commodity roads, reduction in export levies, rural credits and tax incentives.
Mr Benjamin urged the coconut commodity agencies and other stakeholders to develop integrated and multisectoral programmes which must be captured in the National Agriculture Development Plan. The goal is to increase income earning opportunities which will increase net income for farmers depending on coconut as well as cocoa.
Some of the key issues that needed urgent attention include clear guidance as to what the priority value-added products the Government and its partners need to focus on; developing systems to fast-track opportunities into business ventures; developing systems to capitalise on dynamic global market trends; developing win-win packages to attract investors and encourage local partnerships, ownership and participation in income generating activities; align research, development and extension programs to current and future industry and stakeholder needs; and rehabilitate run-down coconut plantations.
Coconuts can save the nation millions of kina by replacing much of the diesel fuel imported for cars, trucks and generators, a rural businessman believes. He has put his money where his mouth is by establishing a village factory to produce coconut oil fit for running diesel engines. He is German-born former volunteer Mathias Horn, who with Buka wife Carol, runs the Buka Metal Fabricators company in Buka town. Mr Horn is not alone, two shipping companies based in Rabaul have been buying coconut oil from the long established Copra Products Ltd mill at Malaguna for the past couple of years and have largely replaced diesel fuel for their ships. Bureau of Statistics figures show that PNG imported 152 million litres of diesel fuel last year at a cost of about K191 million. The petrol pump price for diesel in Port Moresby yesterday was K2.68.6 a litre. Buka coconut diesel is selling at K2 a litre.
Coastal and islands provinces all have ample village plots and plantations of mature coconut trees and could set up similar operations to the Buka one. On present prices, it is realistic to buy copra and produce fuel oil for vehicles, says Mr Horn who was a instructor with the volunteer group German Development Service and was teaching metal fabrication and welding to students in Wapenamanda, Enga Province, and Popondetta back in the 1990s and settled in Buka in 1998. Mathias and Carol heard about the experiments in coconut fuel in Vanuatu and other places. For the past two to three years, he has been running several of his own diesel engine vehicles exclusively on coconut oil. He vows the results are good for his vehicles and for the economy. He showed a truck, a forklift and a car running on the fuel and said he had proved to his own satisfaction that there were no major obstacles to using coconut oil in diesel engines in the tropics.
“We buy copra by bags from village people around Carol’s village, Lontis, and make sure it is dried to the right standard and then put it through the filtering process to get out the impurities,’’ Mr Horn said. He does this through a filtering plant and a series of four tanks where the oil goes through a step-by-step process to render it fit for use in diesel motors. It results in oil for engines, home made oil lamps, chainsaw bar lubrication, and cosmetic oils for use by people on their skin and in their hair. They are making a very high grade cooking oil, which is healthy in terms of weight loss and preventing infections and heart disease.
A sample is with Dr Lohi Matainaho at the University of PNG for further analysis. Now the vehicle used by the Bougainville Administrator Peter Tsiamalil, plus another dozen or so, are run on the Horn family’s coconut oil. Recently it was announced all of the government cars in Vanuatu are to be converted to coconut oil fuel. Mr Horn has a fuel pump in his company yard at Buka and sells the oil to other vehicle owners at a substantial savings compared with the normal diesel. This week, he was selling it for K2 a litre, compared with the retail price of K3.20 for diesel in the town. (Post Courier, August 14, 2006)
Sweet potato workshop report on site
The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research is currently funding five research and development projects on sweet potato in Papua New Guinea. A workshop was held in Madang in June with the following objectives:
A report from the workshop has been placed on the website of the Land Management Group at the Australian National University and can be viewed at: http://rspas.anu.edu.au/lmg/index.php As well, nine presentations from the workshop can also be found at this website. Note that the presentations have not been edited and the powerpoint presentations have been converted into a PDF format.If anyone cannot access this website, they can obtain a copy of the workshop report by sending an email to Ms Tracy Harwood (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Posted 3:21 PM by Luigi
PGR on the Radio
From Dr Lois Englberger.
We are happy to share with you that V6AH Radio, the government-supported radio station here in Pohnpei, has just offered to broadcast daily news announcements provided by the Island Food Community of Pohnpei.
Joseph Alannzo, Manager of V6AH, was very interested when three members of the Let’s Go Local Club made up of Upward Bound students recently showed and explained to him the new IFCP Pohnpei Carotenoid-rich Foods poster. He said, “This is important information and we want to share this with our radio listeners.”
He asked for short announcements (1-2 sentences) and pointed out that his V6AH radio news team could prepare the translation. The English and Pohnpeian messages would be then broadcast at 12 noon, 3 pm and 7 pm. Four announcements have been shared so far. Here below we share with you the last two messages:
“Radio News Release Aug 30, 2006: Recent scientific studies analyzing Karat and other yellow-fleshed bananas of Pohnpei, show that these bananas are rich in provitamin A carotenoids, which turn into vitamin A in our body and help protect us against diabetes, heart disease, cancer, vitamin A deficiency and anemia (or weak blood). Karat, which has been proclaimed by Governor Johnny P. David as the State Banana of Pohnpei, also contains rich levels of vitamin B2, or riboflavin, which is needed every day for our body to function well. These analyses were carried out in laboratories in Fiji, Switzerland, Australia, and Hawaii, all showing that Karat and the other yellow-fleshed bananas provide important health benefits for both children and adults.”
“Radio News Release Sept 1, 2006: Karat, the State Banana of Pohnpei, has recently been featured in a 2-page article in the summer 2006 issue of the colorful FRIENDS magazine, published by the Eden Project. The article presents photos of the new FSM stamp series of Karat, which includes a stamp of Mihne Pretrick feeding Karat to her daughter Tammy, as well as stamps of the Karat bunch and plant and a stamp showing the unique yellow-orange coloration of Karat flesh. Another exciting thing about the article is that it is placed at the front of the issue, right after photos of Queen Elizabeth of England, who was also featured in the magazine, which shows the great interest and value placed on Karat and its unique appearance, good taste, and high nutrient content.”
So many thanks and kalahngan to V6AH Radio, including also Claudia David and Ken Eperiam, the hard-working news team! We look forward to working with you for spreading the message about nutrient-rich island foods!
Lois Englberger, PhD
Island Food Community of Pohnpei
P. O. Box 2299
Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941 FM
Tel: 691-320-8639 Fax: 691-320-4647
Agrobiodiversity Weblog: For discussions of conservation and sustainable use of the genetic resources of crops, livestock and their wild relatives.