A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer

Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands



This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.

The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.

SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).




PAPGREN coordination and support

  • CTA
  • SPC
  • CEPaCT

     genebank locations
    Click on the thumbnail to see a map of the locations of Pacific genebanks. Click here to download a regional directory of genebanks in the Pacific, including information on their location, contact details and holdings.

    PAPGREN partners

    Mr William Wigmore
    Director of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture
    Department of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 96
    Cook Islands
    Tel: (682) 28711-29720
    Fax: (682) 21881
    Email: cimoa@oyster.net.ck

    Mr Adelino S. Lorens
    Agriculture Pohnpei
    Office of Economic Affairs
    P.O. Box 1028
    Pohnpei 96941
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Tel: (691) 3202400
    Fax: (691) 3202127
    Email: pniagriculture@mail.fm

    Dr Lois Englberger
    Island Food Community of Pohnpei
    Research Advisor
    P.O. Box 2299
    Pohnpei 96941
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Email: nutrition@mail.fm

    Mr Apisai Ucuboi
    Director of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forest
    Koronivia Research Station
    P.O. Box 77
    Fiji Islands
    Tel: (679) 3477044
    Fax: (679) 3477546-400262
    Email: apisainu@yahoo.com

    Dr Maurice Wong
    Service du Developpement Rural
    B.P. 100
    Tahiti 98713
    French Polynesia
    Tel: (689) 42 81 44
    Fax: (689) 42 08 31
    Email: maurice.wong@rural.gov.pf

    Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
    Head, Research Section
    Division of Agriculture
    Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development
    P.O. Box 267
    Tel: (686) 28096-28108-28080
    Fax: (686) 28121
    Email : agriculture@tskl.net.ki; Beenna_ti@yahoo.com

    Mr Frederick Muller
    Ministry of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 1727
    Majuro 96960
    Marshall Islands
    Tel: (692) 6253206
    Fax: (692) 6257471
    Email: rndsec@ntamar.net

    Mr Herman Francisco
    Bureau of Agriculture
    Ministry of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 460
    Koror 96940
    Tel: (680) 4881517
    Fax: (680) 4881725
    Email: bnrd@pnccwg.palaunet.com

    Ms Rosa Kambuou
    Principal Scientist PGR
    NARI Dry Lowlands Programme
    Laloki Agricultural Research Station
    P.O. Box 1828
    National Capital District
    Papua New Guinea
    Tel: (675) 3235511
    Fax: (675) 3234733
    Email: kambuou@global.net.pg

    Ms Laisene Samuelu
    Principal Crop Development Officer
    Crops Division
    Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries & Meteorology
    P.O. Box 1874
    Tel: (685) 23416-20605
    Fax: (685) 20607-23996
    Email: lsamuelu@lesamoa.net

    Mr Jimi Saelea
    Director of Research
    Department of Agriculture and Livestock
    P.O. Box G13
    Solomon Islands
    Tel: (677) 27987

    Mr Tony Jansen
    Planting Materials Network
    Kastom Gaden Association
    Burns Creek, Honiara
    P.O. Box 742
    Solomon Islands
    Tel: (677) 39551
    Email: kastomgaden@solomon.com.sb

    Mr Finao Pole
    Head of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture & Forests
    P.O. Box 14
    Tel: (676) 23038
    Fax: (676) 24271
    Email: thaangana@hotmail.com

    Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
    Head of Research
    Department of Agriculture & Rural Development
    Private Mail Bag 040
    Port Vila
    Tel: (678) 22525
    Fax: (678) 25265
    Email: flehi@hotmail.com

    Other links

    Other CROP agencies
    Forum Secretariat
    University of the South Pacific

    Pacific biodiversity
    Biodiversity hotspots
    Breadfruit Institute
    Hawaiian native plants
    Intellectual property rights
    Nature Conservancy
    WWF South Pacific Program

    Other Pacific organizations
    Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific
    Micronesian Seminar
    Te Puna web directory

    Pacific news
    Cafe Pacific
    CocoNET Wireless
    Island Directory
    Pacific Islands News
    Pacific Islands Report
    Pacific Islands Travel
    Pacific Time
    South Pacific travel
    Time Pacific

    Interested in GIS?



    Monday, October 30, 2006

    Noni fruit juice deemed "safe"

    Juice from the fruit of Morinda citrifolia has been authorised for sale in the European Union under novel foods legislation, but apparently some doubts remained about its safety. Now a paper in the Institute of Food Technologists' Journal of Food Science (Vol. 71, pp. R100-R105) reports on a review of animal studies on toxicology, allergenicity and genotoxicity, and human clinical safety studies on noni juice. Scientists from Tahitian Noni International in collaboration with the University Medical School of Hamburg's Department of Toxicology "reviewed the safety data and case reports of supposed adverse reactions for noni fruit juice, and reached the same conclusions as the EU that the fruit poses no safety risk to consumers." Read more about it in FoodProductionDaily.com.

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    Sunday, October 29, 2006

    On-line user survey: A reminder

    We’d really love some feedback on “PGR News from the Pacific.” If you have a few minutes to spare, please answer the ten questions on our on-line survey here. About 75 responses so far - I'd like to break 100....

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    Fiji exports breadfruit

    From FreshPlaza.

    Breadfruit export increased by 21 per cent last year compared to 2004 and exporters anticipate more increases with an increase in demand. Statistics from the Agriculture Ministry's quarantine division said 17 tonnes of breadfruit was exported last year, compared to 14 tonnes in 2004.

    National Exporters director Sunny Singh said there was a big demand for breadfruit overseas. He said his company exported uto dina to New Zealand and USA at $2.80 to $3 a kilogram. "Uto dina is preferred because of its taste. Farmers should plant breadfruit because of the demand," said Mr Singh.

    Director of Mahens Export Anjinesh Kumar said breadfruit export was booming and during fruiting season he aimed to export two tonnes a week to Auckland. Production Manager for Food Processors Fiji Limited Dron Prasad said his company exported canned breadfruit at $47 a carton of 24 cans to NZ, Australia and the US. Farmers who want to supply fresh breadfruit to exporters need to register their farm under the bi-lateral quarantine agreement to meet the export requirements.

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    New varieties released in Fiji

    Fiji Times, October 28, 2006.

    NEW varieties of cowpeas, soya beans and rice will be launched next week in a move to improve local food production and exports, the Agriculture Ministry announced yesterday.
    Agriculture Minister Gyani Nand will launch the new variety of crops at a field day at Legalega Research Station in Nadi on Wednesday.

    The new varieties were developed by the research centre. Director of research Moti Lal Autar said the new variety of cowpea can be grown all year-round because of favourable local conditions and could be exported throughout the year, bringing in more income for local farmers. Last year, 40 tonnes of cowpea were exported to Australia and New Zealand.

    The second new crop, soya bean had a lot of potential for the local hotel industry, mainly for Japanese tourists, who preferred soya bean in their diets, Soya bean was one of the crops developed to assist in the reduction of food imports. Fiji imports around $400million worth of food each year mainly for the tourism sector, he said. The new rice variety introduced in Fiji in early 1970s, will be released next week after years of experiments.

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    Thursday, October 26, 2006

    Promoting pandanus in the Marshalls

    From Dr Lois Englberger.

    As generously supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and coordinated by Dirk Schulz of FAO, I will be traveling today to Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) to spend a week working on pandanus promotion. Marie Maddison, Director of the RMI National Training Council, and Daisy Alik-Momotaro, Executive Director of the Women United Together in the Marshall Islands (WUTMI) have warmly invited me to participate in their WUTMI Annual General Assembly 30 October to 3 November, 2006, and I look forward very much to that. This is a very important meeting with around 400 women from all over the Marshall Islands expected to participate.

    For the pandanus work, a focus will be on the colorful, information-packed, almost completed Bob en Majel (Marshallese Pandanus) poster. We have printed over a hundred copies of the electronic version of the draft poster in letter size and I will be bringing these with me for distribution. Hopefully, we can provide a copy to each who participates in the training. The final large size poster will soon be printed and laminated, as organized and funded by FAO, and then sent to Majuro for further distribution and use.

    Also I will be bringing copies of our scientific paper on carotenoid content of Marshallese pandanus published this year in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis and two of the new large-size FAO/CINE Pacific Indigenous Food posters, for those of you who are interested. More copies of these materials can be also provided later, for those of you who are interested.

    I look forward also to getting ideas from RMI on island food and health promotion, sharing about our projects here in Pohnpei and seeing how our Island Food Community of Pohnpei can work more closely with our Marshall Islands neighbors and friends.

    Thank you again Dirk and FAO for their support and thank you Marie, Daisy, and WUTMI and I look forward to seeing you very soon!

    Kommol tata,

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

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    Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    Seed plants of Fiji: an ecological analysis

    Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
    Volume 89 Issue 3 Page 407


    An annotated list of indigenous Fijian seed plant genera is presented and comprises 484 genera and 1315 species in 137 families. The relative diversity of the largest families and genera in Fiji is indicated and compared with floras in New Caledonia and the Upper Watut Valley, Papua New Guinea. Differences and similarities appear to be due to biogeographical/phylogenetic factors rather than ecological differences or means of dispersal. Generic diversity for the seed plants as a whole is greatest between 0–100 m and decreases monotonically with altitude. However, in the largest family, Orchidaceae, maximum diversity occurs between 200–400 m. Fifty percent of the families are recorded from shore habitat. Twenty-seven percent of the families and 80 species occur in or around mangrove, where the most diverse families are Orchidaceae, Rubiaceae, and the legumes. Some of the mangrove-associate species are pantropical or Indo-Pacific but most are locally or regionally endemic. Fifty-six percent of the Fijian families are recorded on limestone. Twenty-nine species are restricted to limestone and 12 species usually occur on limestone. The importance of calcium in reducing the effects of salinity is emphasized and 39 species are recorded from both mangrove and limestone. A plagiotropic habit occurs in 38 species which occur on limestone or around beaches, and 20 of these are Pacific endemics. Genera restricted to higher altitudes include many present elsewhere in Melanesia but absent from Australia despite suitable habitat there, again indicating the importance of biogeographical and historical factors. Altitudinal anomalies in Fiji taxa are cited and include 7 anomalously high records from northern Viti Levu, a site of major uplift, and 22 anomalously low altitudinal records in the Lau Group, a site of subsidence. It is suggested that the Fijian flora has not been derived from immigrants from Asia, but has evolved more or less in situ. Taxa would have survived as metapopulations on the individually ephemeral volcanic islands always found at oceanic subduction zones and hot spots, and the atolls which characterize areas of subsidence. The complex geology of Fiji is determined by its position between two subduction zones of opposite polarity, the Vanuatu and Tonga Trenches, in what is currently a region of transform faulting. The large islands comprise fragments of island arcs that have amalgamated and welded together. There has been considerable uplift as well as subsidence in the islands and it is suggested that both these processes have had drastic effects on the altitudinal range of the taxa. Limestone and mangrove floras could have provided a widespread, diverse ancestral species pool from which freshwater swamp forest, lowland rainforest, dry forest, secondary forest, thickets, and montane forest have been derived during phases of uplift.

    © 2006 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2006, 89, 407–431.

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    Monday, October 23, 2006

    Breadfruit Promoted at Maui Farm Fair

    From Dr Diane Ragone of The Breadfruit Institute.

    The Breadfruit Institute, National Tropical Botanical Garden, took breadfruit on the road by participating in the 84th Maui County Fair held September 28-30 and October 1. The fair is one of the most popular events on Maui and organizers expected more than 92,000 people to attend. The Maui County Farm Bureau helped coordinate the extensive horticultural (orchids, tropical fruits and vegetables, flower arrangements, and more) displays and related exhibits. The Institute's booth included several varieties of live trees and samples of fruits and leaves from the extensive breadfruit field genebank at Kahanu Garden in Hana. Printed information, displays and cooking demonstrations were held daily. Seeing and tasting breadfruit was a first-time experience for many of the hundreds of visitors to the booth, including those from the U.S. mainland. Some island residents were unfamiliar with how to grow and use this versatile fruit and indicated they would like to eat more breadfruit and were interested in recipes and how to grow the trees. The Breadfruit Institute plans to continue participating in local fairs and other events to improve local understanding and appreciation of breadfruit.

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    Pohnpei Farmers’ Fair and World Food Day

    From Dr Lois Englberger.

    We are happy to share with you preliminary news on the Pohnpei Farmers’ Fair and World Food Day activities held last week, 19-20 October, 2006.

    Over 100 farmers joined the crop competition and the winning yam entries for both the Kehp Peniou and Kehp en Dol en Wai categories weighed 210 pounds each. There was an impressive display of banana and sugar cane varieties, and other local foods, along with a number of booth displays.

    The Healthy Cooking Competition held on 19 August 2006 Crop attracted 19 participants, both women and men. They provided creative dishes and written recipes for Karat and Daiwang banana, giant swamp taro (Cyrtosperma), pandanus and an open local food category. The criteria for this competition included low salt, sugar, and fat content, good taste and an attractive clean presentation.

    Thirteen members of the Let’s Go Local Club presented an entertaining skit, which not only was packed with information on the nutrient-rich Pohnpei banana varieties, but also brought smiles!! Other involvement from the schools included that of the Art and Essay Competition.

    The donors for the event are warmly thanked and include the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Pacific German Regional Forestry Program, Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Program, Sight and Life, New Zealand Government, Development of Sustainable Agriculture in the Pacific, Bank of the FSM, FSM Development Bank, Pohnpei Island Architect and Construction, Do It Best, Telecom, Ace Office Supply, V6AH Radio and Yoshies.

    Thank you again to all those participating in the events, those helping with the arrangements, and again to our donors!

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

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    Concern over Malaysian logging in Niue

    From tvnz, Oct 23, 2006.

    A Malaysian logging company linked to the decimation of the Solomon Islands rainforests has got its sights set on Niue.

    The island nation, which relies almost entirely on aid from New Zealand, is planning on going into business with the group.

    The Niuan government is allowing a the company to log the rainforest, however no-one told the hundreds of locals who own the land.

    One of the Malaysian investors in the deal is Steven Fong Hak who was the general manager of a company called Silvania Products in the Solomon Islands.

    Silvania's been condemned by environmental groups as having one of the worst forest practises in the world.

    The company had its licence revoked several times in the 1990's for illegal logging.

    Fong Hak has recently been dumped from the Niue logging project after falling out with business partner Philip Chung, who agreed to be interviewed by One News on the proviso that his face wasn't shown.

    "We are coming here with sincerity, we want to protect the forest, we cut big tree, turn into money, improve the lifestyle of the people," he said.

    But Chung also has a reputation in the pacific.

    In the 1980's a Solomon Islands High Court found his company Solmac Construction and Timber Ltd had operated without a licence and destroyed a plantation.

    Chiung now says he does not recall not having a licence and he is keen to make sure everything is above-board in Niue.

    "We want our names to be recorded in the history of Niue to do something good for the country," said Chung.

    But many Niueans aren't so sure.

    Local logger Harry Bray says there is only one way a foreign company can make a profit from Niue's forest.

    "They would just take everything, to be able to do that they would have to take everything and what they didn't take they would destroy in the process of taking the timber that is of size," says Bray.

    The logging deal has raised eyebrows internationally.

    Aid donors, including New Zealand, asked Niue to think again before going ahead with it.

    The Niuan government is now biding its time but to keep the Malaysian investors interested they are offering them fishing licences and tourism ventures.

    But logging remains the Malaysians main aim.

    "If they do not allow us to invest in that project maybe we have to say bye bye," says Chung.

    And saying goodbye will be a big deal for Niue's government.

    Instead of the big business investment it was desperately hoping for, the tiny nation will be back to begging for aid.

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    Nutrition documentary

    From Dr Lois Englberger.

    We have exciting news! Sight and Life, a humanitarian initiative of DSM Nutritional Products based in Switzerland, has now completed the nutrition documentary filmed in Pohnpei. You may refer to our email on August 29, 2006.

    The purpose of the documentary is to discuss issues relating to global nutrition problems, including micronutrient deficiencies and nutrition- and lifestyle-related chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

    Dr. Klaus Kraemer, Head of Sight and Life, has now generously offered to provide copies of the completed documentary to other agencies, in addition to those who were most involved in the filming. If your agency is interested, please send me your up-to-date postal address, or email directly to Anne-Catherine Frey at Sight and Life, anne-cath.frey@dsm.com.

    Thank you again Sight and Life!


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

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    Pacific Island Gives Clues to Tropical Biodiversity

    Julio Godoy, IPS correspondent. This article was originally published Oct. 14 by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network. Tierramérica is a specialised news service produced by IPS with the backing of the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme.

    PARIS, Oct 21 (Tierramérica) - Since early September, 170 scientists from 25 countries are conducting a first-ever in-depth exploration of the island of Espiritu Santo, in the Oceania archipelago of Vanuatu, to produce an inventory of tropical biodiversity. The biological wealth of this island region is so great that in about a month they have catalogued a hundred new species.

    The multidisciplinary mission, known as Santo 2006, aims to index previously unknown species -- before climate change decimates them forever.

    Increasing average temperatures, the consequence of the so-called greenhouse effect from the accumulation of carbon emissions (largely from the burning of fossil fuels) in the atmosphere, produce higher sea levels that are threatening islands, like Espiritu Santo, around the world.

    "For this reason, we must hurry," Philippe Bouchet, naturalist and director of the taxonomy and collections division at the Natural History Museum of Paris, told Tierramérica.

    "At this point in our civilisation, we still are unaware of the existence of numerous species," added Bouchet, who coordinates the mission, in cooperation with scientists from France's Institute of Research for Development, and from the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

    These organisations chose Espiritu Santo as the centrepiece of the multinational expedition because it has remained practically unexplored, and because it holds both tropical forests and coral reefs -- the two richest ecosystems and the two most threatened by climate change.

    Furthermore, Espiritu Santo is the largest and highest island of the Vanuatu archipelago, a mountainous chain in the South Pacific, rising more than 1,700 metres above sea level, crowned by Mount Tabwemasana.

    In addition to its dramatic geography is its geological age. The island dates back to the Miocene era, previous to the last ice age. Its geographic and ecological isolation is an important factor in the evolution -- and vulnerability -- of the island's species.

    The islands are particularly rich reserves of endemic species, but they are also microcosms threatened by invasive species.

    According to Bouchet, microorganisms constitute the essence of the living world, due to the number of species, their weight in overall life, and the role they play in maintaining the integrity of the planet.

    "Today we have only a fragmented vision of biodiversity," said Bouchet. His statement is confirmed in comparing the number of species already inventoried -- 1.8 million -- with scientific estimates that the Earth is home to dozens of millions of species.

    The island is also interesting from the demographic and ethnic perspective. Espiritu Santo's 30,000 inhabitants speak more than 40 languages and dialects.

    The scientific investigation to put together a species inventory marks a qualitative jump in the unexplored world. "Stepping foot in a virgin territory is very intriguing," Vincent Prié, a biologist with the Natural History Museum of Paris, told Tierramérica. "One has the impression of being present for the first sputtering of life."

    In the first weeks of the study, the scientists identified about 100 previously unknown species.

    "Given the ecological wealth of Espiritu Santo and its surroundings, it was evident from the start of the mission that here we would discover unknown species," said Bouchet. "We estimated that we could catalogue some 3,500 species of molluscs in the southern region of the island alone -- nearly twice the total species present in all of European waters."

    One of these species, discovered on Sep. 13, is the Scandarma sp., a crab capable of climbing mangrove trees.

    Another task of Santo 2006 is to establish the geographic origin of the species living on the island.

    Michel Pascal, an ethnobiologist from the French Agricultural Research Institute, found a giant invasive snail: "This type of snail comes from Africa. It is exotic to Oceania. Surely it arrived on the island during World War II, hidden in a flower pot. What is certain is that the snail is devastating to the vegetation of Espiritu Santo."

    The mission entails specific units of exploration and classification, centred around particular habitats: the marine depths, coral reefs, cave areas (on land or under sea), and forests, both coastal and mountain.

    Each will be studied from a unique perspective, to estimate the true magnitude of their biodiversity and consider the weight of the very rare species in the make-up of the overall populations.

    "The classification of species on Espiritu Santo will allow us to identify organisms in order to prevent the negative effects of human activities on biodiversity," said Bouchet.

    The species discovered in Espiritu Santo will be indexed at the Natural History Museum of Paris, and the results will be made available to the information centre of the Convention on Biological Diversity, signed in 1992 during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

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    Wednesday, October 18, 2006

    Pacific Indigenous Foods Poster

    From Dr Lois Englberger.

    We are happy to share with you that the Pacific Indigenous Foods Poster has been completed and that Pohnpei and the people of Mand Village in Madolenihmw assisted in its development. The poster is the fourth in a series being developed by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, Center of Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment (CINE), and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The poster is at the FAO INFOODS website at: http://www.fao.org/infoods/index_en.stm. Go to the Biodiversity Section (left frame) and then to the Indigenous Foods link (also left frame).

    Banana, taro, coconut, fish, breadfruit, greens, and pandanus are the seven foods presented on the Pacific Foods poster. A wealth of information is presented, including names, number of species and varieties, and cultivar-specific ranges of nutrient content of selected nutrients, in addition to the stunning photos, of which many were taken in Mand.

    The other posters in the series so far include the global poster, and the Africa and Asia food posters. All posters have side sections focusing on the values of indigenous foods: exceptional nutritional value, taste, economical, available, and culture. It is hoped that the posters will assist in raising awareness on the importance of biodiversity and the great range in nutrient content among the many cultivars.

    Barbara Burlingame of FAO led the development of this poster with technical development and photo selection by Harriet Kuhnlein and Lois Englberger as acknowledged on the poster. Others in the Pacific region contributed information for the poster. The photos were mainly by KP Studios.

    A few preliminary hard copies of the poster have been received, which we had laminated and have shared with a few institutions here in Pohnpei. We have an exciting report from Iris Falcam, heading the Pacific Collection of the College of Micronesia-FSM Library, who had her copy framed and has hung it with the Pohnpei Banana poster and Pohnpei Carotenoid-rich Foods poster. She points out that that the posters are attracting attention of the students.

    Many thanks to the agencies involved, FAO, CINE, IDRC/CRDI, Barbara and Harriet for their dedicated work, the photographers and those in the photos, those providing information for this poster, and also Iris and others who are now displaying and using the poster!! We look forward to its use in promoting the many values of local 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
    Website: http://www.islandfood.org

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    Cook's lost scurvy grass found in New Zealand

    By Kathy Marks, Asia-Pacific Correspondent, The Independent, 17 October 2006.

    A New Zealand plant known as "Cook's scurvy grass", which Captain James Cook fed to his sailors to ward off the fatal disease, has been found growing on a tiny island, having been previously thought almost extinct.

    The Yorkshire-born explorer made great efforts to keep his crews in good health and to ward off scurvy, caused by vitamin C deficiency. He gave them vinegar and sauerkraut, and while charting the coast of New Zealand in 1769, harvested the grassy plant, known as "nau" by Maori tribes.

    The grass, a type of cress, proved a valuable food source. But in recent times it was thought to have almost died out, found only in a handful of small colonies on the west coast of the North Island. Twenty-five years ago, ecologists had a hunch that an islet off the west coast, near the Waikato district, was a likely site for the species. But although it was only 150 metres off shore, it was inaccessible from the mainland except by helicopter, because of dangerous currents and sharks.

    Last week a Department of Conservation team landed on the islet, courtesy of a helicopter belonging to New Zealand Steel, which was working in the region. It found more than 80 plants, growing in an area half the size of a rugby field.

    The team leader, Andrea Brandon, a plant ecologist, said that only two of the mainland sites contained more than 20 plants. "This is a very significant find for the region, and indeed for the whole of the North Island, where this species is now seriously at risk of going extinct," she said.

    She and her two colleagues found the grass, Lepidium oleraceum, growing under tree cover. Dr Brandon said that Cook had recognised the value of the plant, which grows to a height of about one metre. "It was recorded as abundant back then," she said.

    Cook came across it when he visited New Zealand for the first time, during his first great voyage of exploration. He harvested it again when he returned to that part of the world.

    Scurvy was a scourge of the Royal Navy, because it was impossible to store fresh fruit and vegetables for the duration of long voyages, which led to sailors falling ill with vitamin C deficiency. In the late 18th century lime juice was discovered to be effective in preventing the disease. The Navy began distributing regular rations, which led to the nickname "limey" for British sailors. A New Zealand plant known as "Cook's scurvy grass", which Captain James Cook fed to his sailors to ward off the fatal disease, has been found growing on a tiny island, having been previously thought almost extinct.

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    Tuesday, October 17, 2006

    User Survey

    We’d really love some feedback on “PGR News from the Pacific.” If you have a few minutes to spare, please answer the ten questions here http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=394222658334.

    Many thanks


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    Monday, October 16, 2006

    PGR news from DIDINET, PNG: PARCIP, local foods, noni

    DIDINET stands for ‘Didiman/Didimeri Network’ or a network for scientists and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector. It aims to network and inform the participants and keep them abreast of issues of common interest. Contributions can be sent to the Editor (seniorl.anzu@nari.org.pg), PNG National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI). The following are some extracts from the latest newsletter. Contact the Editor if you want to receive the whole issue.

    PARCIP gets HOAFS support

    The Pacific Regional Crops Improvement Program (PARCIP) proposed by the PNG National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) has been endorsed and supported fully by Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services (HOAFS) at their second conference in Nadi, Fiji, last month. The endorsement has been made on the basis of an advanced PARCIP proposal presented at the conference by NARI Director General Dr Raghunath Ghodake.

    PARCIP is aimed at improving and utilising genetic production potential of staple crops common in the Pacific region by using conventional breeding and advanced methods of crop improvement (biotechnology) with a view to addressing food security, improved livelihoods and eventually leading towards overall prosperity in the region. The programme covers evaluation, introductions, selection, and genetic improvement of crops not only to increase productivity and quality per unit of resources but also to address pest and diseases, nutritional improvement, processing requirements, product diversification, tolerance to droughts and frosts, and appropriateness to atoll environments. Besides, it will help sharing of enhanced genetic resources and developing expertise and facilities in the region. Key crops selected for inclusion are abika, banana, sweet potato, taro, yams/alocasia (giant taro), breadfruit, cassava and cytosperma (swamp taro).

    The HOAFS support paves way for the development of a regional cooperation among PICTs (Pacific Islands Countries and Territories) and seeks PNG Government requested technical co-operation programme support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation. NARI is already in the process of developing and implementing some of the crop improvement activities relevant to PNG.

    NESTLE eyes local food resources in product development

    A food manufacturer in the Morobe province is keen to use locally available food resources in product development. Nestle (PNG) is interested in incorporating flour from root and tuber crops, vegetables, cereals, legume grains and nuts into its products to develop value added foods like noodles, crackers, snacks and other products.

    This follows a visit to its Lae factory by officials from the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) recently for a possible collaboration. NARI’s visit was to discuss issues on food processing and product development using locally available food resources and establish a partnership so that NARI can work with the industry to address research and development issues in postharvest, especially food processing, product development and value addition.

    Nestle also indicated that there are possibilities of developing chips, crisps, candies and sweets from root and tuber crops as well as frozen pieces and shreds from vegetables such as carrots.

    The international food producer is looking at using locally available raw materials, especially those with flour and starch in their products. At the moment, all of its dried flour and starch are imported from overseas. The initiative, when it comes into effect, will also substitute expensive imports, reduce costs, benefit smallholder farmers by creating markets and foster the development of small cottage industries in PNG.

    According to Nestle, although fresh root and tuber crops like sweet potato can give flour, they need to be processed into dried flour before being used. Similarly, other raw materials need processing - taro (dried starch) and sago (dried powder).

    Both organisations agreed to collaborate and work in partnership. A formal understanding will be established between the two organisations for co-operation in research; training; and use and sharing of facilities, resources, expertise and information. NARI has compiled a list of possible products that can be developed from various crops under its microscope.

    Noni - an emerging cash crop for rural PNG

    Noni (scientifically called Morinda citrifolia) is an important native plant species of Papua New Guinea with broad spectrum of medicinal properties and uses. The species is widely distributed throughout the Pacific, including South-east Asia and parts of India, with a long-standing medicinal history. Noni has been administered in diverse manners to cure diseases and physiological disorders.

    The root extract was taken to relieve hypertension, and combined with coconut oil to heal skin infections. The leaves were chewed and applied as poultice for inflammation, rheumatism, boils and gastric ulcer. They were also heated and placed on abdomen in cases of swollen spleen, liver diseases and internal haemorrhages. The ripe fruits were consumed either raw or cooked to cure sore throat or stabilise stomach upsets. The traditional uses vary from place to place. In the contemporary times, Noni products have shown to help ailments such as high blood pressure, menstrual cramps, arthritis, gastric ulcers, sprains, injuries, mental depression, senility, poor digestion, drug addiction, and pain. It has thus become an important medicinal plant for commerce in the recent decade for its clinical efficacy.

    Increase in commercial interest for this plant species has resulted in the establishment of plantations in diverse places throughout the Pacific. In PNG, prospective individuals have gone into establishing plantations within the past five to ten years. While meeting the local needs, a few individuals have begun exporting Noni juice to markets abroad.

    As a boost to this emerging industry, the Pacific Island Noni Association (PINA) was formed in late 2004 with member companies scattered across 10 Pacific Island countries including PNG. PINA primarily functions to assist in promoting Pacific noni as the premium product in the growing global noni market. With PINA facilitating, export markets have been established in the United Kingdom and European Union member states. Several other overseas investors, including japan, have shown interest for PNG.

    Consequently, discussions on research and development for noni have picked up in premiere research institutions in PNG. Though currently labelled as an under-utilised species, with recognition and needed support from the government and relevant authorities, rural farmers of PNG can tap into this million dollar industry.

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    Taking Tissue Culture to the Kitchen

    Contributed by Valerie Tuia, RGC Curator.

    Joint Training Workshop organized by SPC CETC/RGC, 12-13th October 2006 at the SPC Community Education Training Centre (CETC), Narere

    • To highlight how tissue culture can be used to multiply some plants
    • To demystify the tissue culture so that you can gain an understanding of just how simple the technology is.

    What is Tissue Culture?

    Whenever we think of tissue culture, we think of high-tech labs with lots of equipment and scientists working away at some very complicated and sophisticated experiments. The last impression we have of it is associated with a kitchen. But this is not the case. Tissue culture is a relatively simple tool, which can be used to propagate plants. Farmers in Vietnam and China have set up small “labs” in their home kitchens to propagate “clean” planting material of potatoes.

    As indicated above the aim of this workshop was to give the participants a clear understanding of what tissue culture is, and what it can do, and to show how it could be used to generate planting material for ornamentals.

    Information was also provided on conventional propagation and also on pests and diseases of ornamentals.

    Brief Highlights

    Most of the 20 participants were ladies from the Suva Flower Growers Association. The same group of women visited the SPC Regional Germplasm Centre early in May 2006 and showed a lot of interest to learn more about tissue culture. The ladies were grateful to SPC for the workshop, which enabled them to learn a great deal, share experiences and obtain useful information during the two days.

    Tissue Culture – theory and practical sessions (Dr MaryTaylor and Valerie Tuia)

    Anthuriums and orchids were the main plants that ladies were interested in. Others brought some other plants to practice with, like heliconia, gardenia, hibiscus, crotons and caladiums. They find these hard and slow to propagate using convention methods. Their first and second attempts during the practical sessions were not too bad given it was their first time using tissue culture methods. A demonstration was performed on how to initiate and establish plants in culture, subculture a tissue cultured plant and how to transfer into the soil. Women were also given information on the costs involved and how to obtain a basic kitchen Culture Kit from some overseas suppliers. They were also delighted to have relayed the “good news” that AUSAID has approved SPCs proposal to fund a feasibility study on potential of floriculture in PNG, Vanuatu and Fiji. The ladies were appreciative of the proposal which would give them some form of support and guidelines as to which pathway to take.

    Pests and Diseases in Plants & Quarantine Implications

    Women also found presentations by Dr Richard Davis (SPC Virologist) and Sada Lal (SPC Entomologist) highlighting the different pests and diseases that affect plants including ornamentals very informative and interesting. The ladies were happy to see lots of pictures of pests and diseases and samples of live specimens brought into the workshop. The topic on harmful pests and diseases and their distribution through movement of plant material was very important for the women to be aware of. Moving plants without prior knowledge of pests and diseases is dangerous and the consequences could be to wipe out any potential industry. Ladies were discouraged from using chemicals but rather it was suggested they try plant derived pestcides (PDP) eg neem, chillies etc to control some of the pests and diseases found in their gardens, in combination with good cultural and physical practices.

    Another interesting topic was the introduction and planting of some ornamental plants which have been declared weeds eg. African tulip and Clerodendrum quadriloculare (Bronze-leaved clerodendrum). Most women were shocked and were not aware that Clerodendrum (with fireworks flowers) plant found in their gardens are “weeds”. These plants spread quickly and cover lots of arable land and forest, suppressing growth of important species and are usually are difficult to eradicate. A plant health clinic was then operated by Richard and Sada afterwards to have a look at the suspected plants brought in by the ladies.

    Other Conventional Methods – marcotting (airlayering) and crafting

    Mr Jai Narayan, Senior Technical Assistant from the Ministry of Agriculture, Sugar & Land Resettlement, Fiji also put up a fascinating demonstration of marcotting (airlayering) and crafting of plants, using the lime. The ladies were keen to learn more about the techniques, which could be applied to ornamentals, especially where normal methods of propagation do not seem to work. Only a few women knew how to marcot and craft plants and this was a good opportunity for all of them to learn and practice using their plants at home.

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    Sunday, October 15, 2006

    New orchids in PNG

    The Times reports that a WWF expedition found 30 new species of orchids in the remote Kikori region on PNG. Two wildlife managenent areas have recently been launched in the region. read more about it here.

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    Women's self-employment: more than pretty baskets

    SPC Press release. A photo of Anne and Primrose to accompany this press release is downloadable from http://www.spc.int/culture/press.htm. Photo must be credited to SPC.

    Suva, Fiji Islands, Tuesday, 10 October, 2006 : When Anne Maedia was a nurse at Honiara's main hospital, she noticed how much flowers cheered up patients and the bare wards.
    That gave her idea - why not a floristry business? She approached local florist Primrose Maetoloa, who agreed to let Anne "learn by looking".

    By 1999, Anne decided she had the skills and the confidence to swap nursing for floristry. She and Primrose now run a blooming company together, their own gardens supplying most of their flowers.

    Their clients range from individuals to companies and government departments - and a local businessman who pays them to take flowers twice a week to Anne's old hospital.

    Now it's Anne's turn to share what she has learned with the 30 members of Honiara Grassroots Women in Self-employment. Ten of the members have come to the Third Melanesian Arts and Cultural Festival with the assistance of the Solomon Islands government.

    The festival has given the women a bigger market for their baskets and jewellery than is possible in the Solomon Islands. A basket worth $15 Solomon dollars in Honiara is going for the equivalent of $20 Solomon dollars in Fiji.

    But more importantly, says president and jewellery-maker Gaye Au Ramosaea, the women have picked up fresh ideas they will put into practice back home.

    Anne, the secretary of the three-year-old group, says most of its members are illiterate. But their culture and traditions have handed them skills in cooking and handcrafts.

    The women pool their knowledge, learning about money-handling, improving the quality of their work, and setting prices. "It's about women helping themselves," says Anne.

    Their self-esteem also rises: "It gives women confidence, being out at the market day after day, and not just working at home," she says.

    "They are motivated. Even if they can't read and write, they can earn money for their families. They sometimes earn more than their husbands."

    She adds: "The husbands ... realise that the women can do something for the family. All the women in this group are paying their children's school fees themselves."

    In Anne's case, she brings home more profit in a day than her nurse husband can earn in a fortnight.

    The earnings of enterprising women like Anne can lift families out of poverty, says Linda Petersen, the women's development adviser at the Pacific Women's Bureau at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

    However, governments need to recognise the value of such projects when developing strategies for reducing hardship: "They should support these efforts through the provision of resources and basic infrastructure."

    She adds: "The jury came out a long time ago on the benefits of investing in women's education and economic empowerment - we just need to take it more seriously and demonstrate commitment to this truth in our part of the world."

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    PNG forests lost in the spin cycle

    Multinational loggers in Papua New Guinea have called in the public relations flacks, write Don Henry and Steve Shallhorn in The Australian. Don Henry is executive director of the Australian Conservation Foundation and Steve Shallhorn is chief executive of Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

    WHAT do you do when your logging company can't shake off continuing negative publicity about illegal logging and human rights abuses, generated by a never-ending series of reports by international financial institutions, aid donors, journalists and non-government organisations?If you are multinational logger Rimbunan Hijau, you call in a team of Australian spin doctors to give the company a makeover.

    Rimbunan Hijau, a company controlled by Malaysian billionaire Hiew King Tiong, dominates forestry in Papua New Guinea. The company and its subsidiaries run five of PNG's 12 largest logging projects, the country's biggest sawmill and its only veneer plant. So when evidence continues to show most logging in PNG is illegal and unsustainable, fingers inevitably start pointing at Rimbunan Hijau.

    Everyone loses from illegal logging except, presumably, the loggers. The environment is exploited beyond recovery, forest-dwelling communities lose their sources of food and are left with no lasting benefits. Governments are deprived of royalties and timber producers in countries such as Australia are forced to compete with cheap illegal imports.

    A recent World Bank report estimates up to 70 per cent of logging in PNG is illegal. We believe it could be as much as 90 per cent. Independent reports and studies by the UK Timber Trade Federation, PNG's Ombudsman Commission, the PNG Department of Labour and numerous non-government organisations have raised serious questions about the legality and sustainability of large-scale logging in PNG.

    Rimbunan Hijau's response has not been to clean up its act but to attempt to clean up its image. The company has engaged Australian consultant ITS Global, headed by Alan Oxley, an associate of industry-funded think tank the Institute for Public Affairs. It has put together three reports for Rimbunan Hijau this year, defending the company's activities in PNG and attacking those who question them.

    Unfortunately, the consultant's method is merely to blame others for the problems swirling around the logging industry. It's either PNG's fault ("There have been irregularities in forestry administration, as expected in a low-income developing country," Oxley wrote in Inquirer on September 16), or it's the forest communities that are to blame ("landowner aspirations are often very short-term and focus on consuming monetary benefits only," Rimbunan Hijau's PNG director James Lau was quoted in an ITS Global report). Or it's the NGOs.

    It's a tried and true stalling tactic. You could call it "talk and log": keep arguing the issues and keep cutting down trees. After all, it is much easier to attack others than to address the deep-rooted problems of illegal logging in PNG. But in the meantime the forests, the landowners who rely on the forests for survival and the PNG economy suffer.

    A recent court decision in PNG suggests big loggers would be wise to start paying more attention to the complaints of landowners. PNG's Post Courier reported in August that the National Court had ordered Rimbunan Hijau and its subsidiary Pinpar to pay 3.17 million kina (about $1.5 million) in damages over a logging project in Rigo, Central Province, that turned ugly.

    Contrary to the consultant's claims, conservationists are not against development in PNG. Indeed, ridding PNG of illegal and destructive logging will strengthen the country's economy. There are far greater future economic opportunities in ethical timber extraction. Consumer demand means an increasing number of countries import only timber that can be verified as legally and responsibly logged. The British Timber Trade Federation has warned its members not to purchase timber originating from PNG and Solomon Islands because "our own investigations found that little evidence can be obtained to give even a minimum guarantee of legality. Any wood from these countries must therefore be deemed very high-risk."

    If PNG does not get wise to this international reality, its markets will quickly dry up.

    Large-scale forestry can continue to operate in PNG, but it will survive only if it meets internationally recognised and credible third-party certification standards.

    And, although big business consultants don't like to hear it, medium and small-scale operations will also be part of the solution.

    Eco-forestry causes minimal damage to the bush and the money made from just one tree can pay a child's school fees for a year.

    Unlike the existing dominant industrial logging model, the profits stay with the local communities.

    Governments can - and must - act to make a difference. The PNG Government needs to set up an independent, high-level inquiry into the persistent problems plaguing large-scale logging in the country. PNG should also put a ban on new logging permits and the renewal or extension of permits until the appropriate mechanisms, legislation, institutions and enforcement capacity are established to properly oversee a sustainable timber industry.

    Australia has a deep interest in helping PNG clean up its logging industry. Apart from any good-neighbour obligations, the well-established links between illegal logging, corruption and poor governance make an out-of-control timber industry in PNG a threat to regional stability. As a leading aid donor, Australia can ensure future aid funding and assistance to PNG's forestry sector is linked to measures that will lessen the damage large-scale logging does to human rights, regional security and the environment.

    As a timber importer, Australia can ban the import of illegal timber and wood products, introduce a robust definition of legality and phase in internationally recognised third-party certification for all imports in the next two years.

    The only reports that have given the PNG logging industry a clean bill of health are the ones written by ITS Global and paid for by Rimbunan Hijau. Who is telling the truth about logging in PNG? The World Bank, the British Timber Trade Federation, Greenpeace, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the World Wide Fund for Nature and the PNG Ombudsman Commission? Or the consultant hired by a logging company?

    Ultimately, people will make up their own minds. Now the Australian Government must make up its mind about whether it will continue to allow the importation of illegal and destructively logged timber.

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    Overweight in the Pacific

    From Dr Lois Englberger.

    A new paper titled “Overweight in the Pacific: links between foreign dependence, global food trade, and obesity in the Federated States of Micronesia” by Susan Cassels has just been published in Globalization and Health 2006, 2:10. Here is the website. The abstract is reproduced below. There is a lot of well-documented information here, and material for thought. I look forward to comments.

    Thanks to the Marshall Islands Journal for mentioning the article.


    Abstract. The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has received considerable attention for their alarming rates of overweight and obesity. On Kosrae, one of the four districts in the FSM, 88% of adults aged 20 or older are overweight (BMI > 25), 59% are obese (BMI > 30), and 24% are extremely obese (BMI > 35). Recent genetic studies in Kosrae have shown that obesity is a highly heritable trait, and more work is underway to identify obesity genes in humans. However, less attention has been given to potential social and developmental causes of obesity in the FSM. This paper outlines the long history of foreign rule and social change over the last 100 years, and suggests that a combination of dietary change influenced by foreigners, dependence on foreign aid, and the ease of global food trade contributed to poor diet and increased rates of obesity in Micronesia. The last section of the paper highlights the Pacific tuna trade as an example of how foreign dependence and global food trade exacerbates their obesity epidemic.

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

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    Ethnobotany in Pohnpei

    From Dr Lois Englberger.

    Dana Lee Ling, Professor at the College of Micronesia-FSM National Campus, has shared with us some wonderful photos and descriptions of local island food dishes as documented by the students of the COM-FSM SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany Class this last week (October 13, 2006).

    Some of the photos include uht sukusuk (a pounded banana dish), uht piahia (whole banana cooked with coconut cream), and other banana, tapioca, and Cyrtosperma taro dishes. Two of the dishes are presented in beautifully woven baskets of different types.

    In addition an interesting discussion is presented on spelling variants and the constructivist theory of education where knowledge is jointly built. In this course the students themselves provide the spellings of the dishes. It is clearly stated that these are not intended to be the official spellings.

    See here below and thank you very much Dana and students!!!


    The ethnobotany course food presentations: http://www.comfsm.fm/~dleeling/ethnobotany/63food_presentations.html

    In ethnobotany I am experimenting with a course-level portfolio. This is a work in progress which can be seen at:

    Dr. Lois Englberger, PhD
    Island Food Community of Pohnpei
    P. O. Box 2299
    Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Website: http://www.islandfood.org

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    Thursday, October 12, 2006

    Pacific Islands Struggling to Enforce Forestry Laws

    PORT MORESBY, Oct 12 - Lack of enforcement of forestry laws is letting down Pacific Island governments, a regional seminar on forest law enforcement and governance heard yesterday, Post Courier reports.

    Tony Bartlett, general manager of the forest industries branch in the Australian Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, said Pacific Island states had laws to combat illegal logging but lack of enforcement was a problem.

    He said governments throughout the world were losing about US$5 billion annually in potential revenue to illegal logging.

    "The Australian Government is concerned about poor governance and unsustainable forest practices in Pacific Island countries," Mr Bartlett said, adding the Australian Government was assisting the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government address governance issues within the forestry sector.

    Australian advisers are working with the PNG Forest Authority to address corporate governance.


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    Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    Inulin in food

    From Dr Lois Englberger.

    It is important to have our local island foods analyzed for inulin because there is growing evidence of several different health benefits. At present, we have very little information on the level of inulin in our island foods. The Pacific Island Food Composition Tables 2004 present data on total dietary fiber, but do not provide information on different types of fiber. Inulin is a soluble fiber, and is described as being comprised of a group of oligosaccharides (several simple sugars linked together) that belong to a class of carbohydrates known as fructans. According to Nutraingredients 2006 (see reference below), inulin can boost bone strength, help control blood sugar level, and may reduce cholesterol. The August issue of the prestigious American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (vol 82 issue 2, pp 471-6) presents an article giving the results of a long term trial, finding that daily consumption of a combination of short and long-chain inulin-type fructans increased calcium absorption and enhanced bone mineral density among teenagers by about 15%. The American Heart Association (see reference below) explains about the benefits of soluble fiber and that it has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol when eaten regularly as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, all the more showing the importance for us in the Pacific to find out more about the inulin content of local island foods.



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    Thursday, October 05, 2006

    Taro talk at the Bishop Museum

    Thursday, October 19th6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m., Atherton Halau

    Join us as the Bishop Museum Association Council welcomes Dr. Isabella Abbott, Hugh Lovell, and Cicero Bernales for a presentation on kalo. Dr. Isabella Abbott, internationally known ethnobotanist and the first Native Hawaiian woman to earn a Ph.D., will discuss the many varieties of kalo. She will also share her mana‘o on what kalo means to Hawaiians and its place in religion.

    Cultural Specialist Hugh Lovell will explain his work of breeding kalo by cross-pollination. He will also discuss the Polynesian migrations, the origins of kalo, and how it was introduced to Hawai`i.

    Cicero Bernales, HPC Foods’ Quality Assurance Manager, will present modern and future uses of Hawaiian kalo. This is sure to be an informative evening, so please come out and join us.

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    Kava Festival in Hawaii

    By Corey Riordan, Ka Leo Contributing Reporter, 5 October 2006

    The third annual Kava Festival is coming to the University of Hawaii at Manoa on Saturday. The festival is free of charge and will be located at the McCarthy Mall from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Kava Festival 2006 is centered on the drink kava - pronounced awa in Hawaiian - and is being coordinated by the Awa Development Council, a nonprofit organization focused on promoting awa in education, religion and science.

    Awa, a Hawaiian plant commonly used by ancient Hawaiians as both a drink of pleasure and a cure for headaches and stress, has real-world applications today.

    Vendors will be giving away free awa samples. There will also be kava plants for sale.
    "It will offer an opportunity to see awa in a whole new context, in a more tradition and therapeutic way," said Jonathan Yee, an organizer of the event.

    Yee said that the council aims to make the mood of the event very relaxing and educational. "There will be an awa garden where people can gather and drink kava in a comfortable setting," he said.

    The festival will include speakers, live music, slam poetry and more.

    Kava Festival 06 will commence with a traditional awa ceremony in the morning to get the event started. Musicians will perform throughout the day, including Grammy award winner Jeff Peterson. Speakers at the Kava Festival will be covering a variety of subjects including ancient Hawaiian chants, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, moon phases and the chemistry of kava.

    If you are interested in Kava Festival, you can visit http://www.kavafestival.org for more information.

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    Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    Fijians find chutney in bad taste

    Sometimes value adding is not as simple as it sounds. Article by Catherine Adams of the BBC.

    Food scientists in the Fiji Islands say they have discovered a recipe for a vegetable dish used to accompany human bodies during cannibal feasts.

    The scientists plan to market jars of cannibal chutney as a novelty gift, and argue that Fiji's flagging economy will have to rely on unique products such as this in the future.

    Cannibalism was widely practised in Fiji until about a hundred years ago. But some Fijians are not happy about raking up their unsavoury past.

    Recipe withheld

    The co-inventor of Cannibal Chutney (CC), food scientist Richard Beyer, has concluded that Fiji is soon going to have to look beyond its traditional crops such as sugarcane.

    "Our strategy is to single out products which are specific to the region and trade in those," Mr Beyer says.

    Mr Beyer and an Australian colleague say they have discovered a recipe for a vegetable relish which used to accompany human meat.

    He will not reveal the ingredients, but believes Cannibal Chutney, or products like it, are going to make the Fiji Islands rich.

    "It is what we believe is a traditional recipe and when you think about it, it really doesn't matter what's in it. It is one of those little novelty products that you see round the world," Mr Beyer says.

    "It's one of those things you buy as a novelty gift as you're leaving Fiji. It's like visitors to Fiji can go and buy a little fork which was originally designed to get the little bits of brain out of the skull," he says.

    Chutney could harm tourism

    But not everyone agrees with Richard Beyer's economic analysis. Trade journalist Daniel Singh thinks Fiji has plenty of resources to replace sugar, such as the hardwoods in its forests, before it has to resort to gimmicks.

    "The idea of CC will not go down well because people are trying to forget the past... Tourism is an important industry here and if you associate cannibalism with that, it might affect tourism badly," Mr Singh says.

    On the streets of the capital, Suva, the idea of Cannibal Chutney provoke mixed feelings among indigenous Fijians.

    "Maybe the tourists would be interested to see that that was a part of Fiji's history, they might want to eat it to see what it's like, maybe it would draw them to Fiji," some said, but others were more critical.

    "If I heard of cannibal chutney I wouldn't wanna eat it. We don't like the idea of Cannibal Chutney of naming our chutney that way. It spoils the Fijian race," people said.

    "I think it's not really a good idea. We're almost in the year 2000 now and to talk about the past, we should forget about it. I think it is very insulting."

    Missionary who became a meal

    Contrary to popular myth, only one white missionary, the Reverend Thomas Baker, was ever eaten on Fiji. His shoes are in the Fiji museum.

    "He was foolhardy, he was murdered and parts of his body eaten," says historical expert Paul Geraghty.

    "The distribution of cuts would be similar to pork," he says.

    "Cannibalism seems to have been prevalent in the earliest times. In the earliest records there are bones which appear to have been butchered which indicates it's quite old," Mr Geraghty says.

    "But in every case it was a product of war. And when war ceased in the mid-19th century, then cannibalism ceased when people accepted Christianity."

    Cannibal insults remain

    The only trace of cannibalism today is in the language. For example, Fijians still use the common insult "bokola" which means "body for eating". Otherwise, it is never talked about.

    But written records by early explorers remain, describing how the chiefs made the procedure as gruesome as possible to terrify their enemies.

    "In times of bitter warfare, lower people might get little offcuts - hands and feet to chew on, but it was really the prerogative of the chiefs," Mr Geraghty says.

    "They'd bring somebody back alive, if it was an opposing chief and there are accounts of items being removed from their person , like tongues, and being eaten while they watch."

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    How Safe Are Crops Grown in Wetlands?

    This article is from Uganda, but it concerns crops of importance to the Pacific too. Cocoyam is either taro or Xanthosoma. From New Vision (Kampala), by John Kasozi.

    MOST food crops grown in urban wetlands absorb a number of pollutants. This is especially so with sweet potatoes and cocoyams.

    Recent research undertaken by leading East African scientists under the Lake Victoria Research Initiative of the Inter-university Council of East Africa raises the need for serious attention to possible effects of lead and cadmium on human health.

    "The sweet potato is a source of carbohydrates for poor urban dwellers in East Africa. If it is grown in wetlands, there is a possibility for it to take up lead from burning leaded petrol and flaking leaded house paints," says James Nsumba, an agronomist. According to the research, cocoyam was found to be three times more resilience than sweet potato, surviving even at 800 particles per million (lead). All sweet potato varieties experimented had succumbed.

    Cocoyam is well known for its tolerance to heavy metals and was included in the study for comparison purpose.

    Nsumba, Finster Grey et al, in their 2003 Field Survey Science Total Environmental journal reported that metals pose greater risks to children since they absorb between 30 and 75% of the metal in what they eat, whereas adults absorb only about 11%. Lead, even ingested at low concentrations, is associated with impaired brain development, balance problems, heightened risk of tooth decay, hearing loss and shortened stature among children.

    In adults it leads to tiredness, loss of appetite, reduced libido in men and the risk of high blood pressure.

    In December 2003, a story by the Nairobi-based Daily Nation newspaper about high concentrations of lead in the sukumawiki (kale) sold in Nairobi sparked mixed reactions from the public.

    The story from the 2003 United Nations Environment Programme report, stated that the Nairobi sukumawiki contained 5,000 microgrammes of lead per kilo, which is above the World Health Organisation recommended standard of 300.

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    New sweet potato project in PNG

    From Dr Ian Godwin.

    This project aims to understand the genetic basis of “yield stable” sweet potato genotypes, and to develop DNA marker tests to enable these stable varieties to be identified at the outset, rather than waiting for >5 years to enable their selection. This is a collaborative project involving experienced sweet potato breeders and geneticists, with plant molecular geneticists and biologists, and will be performed predominantly at the University of Queensland as a PhD project by Mr Tom Okpul, of the University of Technology, Lae.

    The project will be based at the University of Queensland, under the supervision of A/Prof Ian Godwin and Dr Mark Dieters, A/Prof Rob Harding, Queensland University of Technology, and Dr Grahame Jackson, with his involvement in PestNet and the PARCIP Project.

    The overall objective of the proposal is to identify diagnostics for the selection of “yield stable” sweet potato genotypes. We will determine the involvement of mutations and possible interaction with virus infection or other stresses on productivity of sweet potato in PNG.

    The specific objectives are:
    • To assess the possible genetic basis for yield stability among locally/regionally adapted sweet potato cultivars;
    • To identify whether mobile genetic elements and retroviruses play a role in SPYD;
    • To develop DNA markers that can be used to predict the “yield stable” genotypes at the time of release. These will be useful in making selections from local breeding programs.

    The outcomes will be:

    • development of DNA tests for the genetic integrity of sweet potato varieties;
    • assessment of the interaction between virus infection and mutation rates in sweet potato;
    • possible impact of selected genotypes and/or management tools for reducing or avoiding the effects of SPYD

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    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    New genetic resources from the SPC-RGC

    From Dr Mary Taylor, Regional Germplasm Centre Adviser (MaryT@spc.int).


    We have 6 new varieties of cassava ( Me 02, Me 03, Me 05, Me 06, Me 08 and Me 29) from CIAT, the International Agricultural Research Centre with the mandate for cassava. These varieties were tested for Cassava Common Mosaic Virus (CCMV), Frogskin disease (FSD) and Cassava X virus CsXV at CIAT. We also screened these varieties ourselves for virus symptoms at 3 and 6 months. These varieties have only been evaluated in S. America where Me 02, Me 03, Me 05, Me 06, Me 08 have shown combined resistance to different stresses, with some having low tolerance to white fly. Me 29 has shown resistance to root rot, bacterial blight, and acid soils.


    We have imported 4 varieties of Dioscorea rotundata from IITA in Nigeria. These were imported mainly for their resistance to anthracnose disease. They were tested for Yam mosaic virus (YMV), Dioscorea alata virus (DAV), Dioscorea dumetorum virus (DDV), Dioscorea alata virus (DaV), Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), Dioscorea mottle virus (DMoV) at IITA in Nigeria. We also tested for Dioscorea bacilliform virus (DBV), and re-tested for Dioscorea alata virus (DAV) and Yam mosaic virus (YMV) using highly sensitive polymerase chain reaction (PCR). They have only been evaluated in Nigeria where they were found to be adapted to the lowland forest and moist savanna agroecozones. All except, DR/AF 28 mature in 8 months. DR/AF 28 requires 6-7 months to mature.


    We have three varieties of japanese taro that have been indexed for the five known taro viruses. These produce small cormels which have a taste more resembling the Irish potato than the Pacific taro. They could be a very good "product" for sale to tourist hotels and restaurants, and if your country has a significant "ex-pat" population. To my knowledge only Tonga has experience in cultivating/producing this type of taro.


    As you know we have been distributing taro from S.E Asia (TANSAO) collection but it is early days yet to get any feedback on evaluation. However, some of these varieties went first to Tolo Iosefa, the coordinator of the Taro Improvement Programme (TIP) in Samoa and so we do have some results from Samoa which I thought you might like to know about.

    Tolo's preliminary observations and selection were:

    The following cultivars were selected for on-farm evaluation: TAN/MAL-12 & MAL-14; IND-14 & IND-13 and THA-09, mainly selected because of their very good eating quality. Of these cultivars, TAN/IND-13 showed very good growth and out-competed all the others. TAN/MAL-12 was also growing very well. IND-14 appeared to be very susceptible to Dasheen Mosaic Virus (DsMV).

    If you would like to try these or any of the other Asian taro varieties, please get in touch with either Valerie or myself.

    If you are interested in any of these varieties or require more information, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with either myself or Valerie (valeriet@spc.int).

    Mary Taylor

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