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?
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Posted 3:57 AM by Luigi
Gene flow in Hawaii
Potential gene flow from agricultural crops to native plant relatives in the Hawaiian Islands
by Peter Münstera and Ania M. Wieczorek, Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment Volume 119, Issues 1-2 , February 2007, Pages 1-10
Abstract. Island populations have a much higher risk of extinction than their mainland counterparts for a number of reasons. Particular concern has been voiced that gene flow and hybridization between agricultural crops and native plant species may exacerbate their precarious position, especially if the gene flow occurs from crops developed through recombinant DNA technologies. Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) and vertical gene transfer (VGT) are the two possible ways for gene flow and introgression to occur. VGT is more likely to facilitate gene transfer between agricultural crops and native plant species, although this too is dependent on a variety of factors. In this critical review phylogenetic tribal boundaries were used as a limit to hybridization potential. Overlap was found between agricultural crops and native species in four tribes: Heliantheae, Gossypieae, Solaneae, and Phaseoleae. In each tribe the factors which increase and decrease the likelihood of hybridization were evaluated and distribution analyses performed. In general, it is concluded that hybridization potentials are low for most species (except Gossypium tomentosum that is known to hybridize with its cultivated relatives), however, small scale pollination studies should be performed for each tribe to quantify the risk and to better manage populations of native species.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Posted 1:02 AM by Luigi
Adding value to cassava
Sent in by Grahame Jackson.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), many developing countries could strengthen their rural economies by converting more cassava, a relatively cheap raw material, into high-value starches. "Compared to starches derived from most other plants, it has greater clarity and viscosity, and it is very stable in acidic food products. It also has excellent properties for use in non-food products, such as pharmaceuticals and thermobioplastics," said Danilo Mejia, an agricultural engineer with FAO's Agricultural Support Systems Division. The key to cassava's future in global and domestic starch markets, FAO says, will be improvements in efficiency and quality, and a reduction in production costs. For a model of successful cassava starch industry development, African and Latin American countries should turn to Thailand, the world's top producer. The country now uses about 50 percent of its annual cassava root production to extract some two million tons of starch. Half of it goes to domestic food and non-food industries, while the rest are exported, increasingly in the form of higher-value modified starch for specialized applications. The country is also exploring the use of starch as raw material for production of bioethanol. For the complete article, see here.
24 Alt Street
Posted 12:43 AM by Luigi
Book published on PNG’s Policies and Strategies on Underutilised Species
From DIDINET Newsletter.
A new book titled “Underutilised Species – Policies and Strategies” has just been published as an Information Bulletin (No. 15, September, 2006) by the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI). It presents an analysis of national and institutional policies in Papua New Guinea that directly or indirectly affect the use of currently underutilised species of crops for food and agriculture. This analysis, done by NARI and several other agencies, followed from a study contracted by the Global Facilitation Unit for Underutilised Species, International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, to explore various issues and develop mutual support in efforts to ensure that designated underutilised crop species are enshrined in national agricultural development policies, strategies and plans for the benefit of smallholder farmers and the nation
The objective was to produce a fully documented, analysed and justified strategic plan for strengthening the national and key institutional policy and legal frameworks to enable effective conservation and sustainable use of currently underutilised crop species for food and agriculture.
The publication, compiled by NARI Chief Scientist Dr Alan Quartermain, covers, among others, Government Policies and Strategies, Food Security, Nutrition, Biodiversity and Conservation, Plant Genetic Resources Activities, and Forestry.
The booklet is available at NARI’s Publications Unit. Contact Barbara Tomi (email@example.com) for more information.
Posted 12:22 AM by Luigi
New banana nutritional content paper
From Dr Lois Englberger.
We would like to share with you that our paper titled "Carotenoid content and flesh color of selected banana cultivars growing inAustralia", by L Englberger, R B H. Wills, B Blades, L Dufficy, J W. Daniells, and T Coyne is now published in the Food and Nutrition Bulletin December 2006 issue.
The paper's title refers to banana cultivars grown in Australia, but the work also involves cultivars from the Pacific.
The paper should soon be on the journal’s website.
Let me know if you would like the pdf file; it was kindly provided by Susan Karcz, Managing Editor. Thank you again Susan!
Here below is the abstract, thanks again all to those involved in this project!
Background: Research in Micronesia indicates that yellow- and orange-fleshed banana cultivars contain significant levels of provitamin A carotenoids.
Objective: To identify further banana cultivars that may be promoted to alleviate vitamin A deficiency and chronic disease problems.
Methods: Ripe fruit of banana cultivars growing in Australia (sourced mostly from a field research collection) were assessed for carotenoid content and flesh color. Ten cultivars with yellow or yellow/orange flesh color (including common cultivars of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands) were selected and compared to two cream-fleshed cultivars, including Williams, of the Cavendish group, the most commonly marketed banana world-wide. Carotenoid content was analysed using HPLC. Flesh color was analysed using HunterLab colorimetry.
Results: The yellow/orange-fleshed Asupina (a Fe’i banana) contained the highest level (1430 ?g/100g) of ?-carotene, the most important provitamin A carotenoid, over 20 times higher than that of Williams. All ten yellow or yellow/orange-fleshed cultivars (Asupina, Kirkirnan, Pisang Raja, Horn Plantain, Pacific Plantain, Kluai Khai Bonng, Wain, Red Dacca, Lakatan, and Sucrier) contained significant carotenoid levels, potentially meeting half or all of estimated vitamin A requirements for a non-pregnant, non-lactating female adult within normal consumption patterns. All were acceptable for taste and other attributes. The cream-fleshed cultivars contained minimal carotenoid levels. There was a positive significant correlation between carotenoid content and deeper yellow/orange coloration indicators.
Conclusions: These yellow- or yellow/orange-fleshed carotenoid-rich banana cultivars should be considered for promotion in order to alleviate vitamin A deficiency and chronic disease in susceptible target communities and to provide variety and enjoyment as exotic fruits in both developing and industrialized countries.
And here's a comment from Judy Mieger: Reading a bit of this color stuff brought 2 things to mind----Dr. Bill Sears is a wonderful pediatrician/author/breastfeeding advocate/father of 8!! who has several children's nutrition books out that are fantastically popular----and as I remember hearing he talks about eating a rainbow every day (or something...)---such a great concept for kids. … COLOR is something I can get into!----and even as interested in nutrition as I am, learning nutritional details is boring to the average person like me----but give me the Color Connection any time and I'll perk up! :) (I can't be the only one...) All good wishes for a healthy karat-filled 2007, Judy
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Posted 2:50 PM by Luigi
Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog
Dont forget to visit http://agro.biodiver.se for news, information and discussion on the study, conservation and use of agricultural biodiversity.
Posted 2:22 PM by Luigi
Sustainable livelihoods in Makira
Terracircle Association, "an international development consultancy providing development aid services to communities and organisations in developing and developed countries," has partnered with Kastom Gaden Association, Solomon Islands, to conduct livelihoods assessments of remote communities on the weather coasts of Guadalcanal and Makira islands as part of an AusAID project. The Makira assessment has just been posted on the Terracircle website here. It is large (over 2MB) but well worth reading in full. Thanks to Grahame Jackson, who took part in the assessment, for alerting us to the publication. This is what the executive summary says about crops:
Cocoa is the main cash crop in most villages but yields are low. There is little knowledge of how to manage it properly and, consequently, losses from diseases — black pod, canker, root rots, pink disease and white thread — are high. Mostly, wet beans are sold as driers are uncommon. Women and youth tend the crop and sell the beans and they are keen to have training. An unusual feature of the Coast is the dominance of Cyrtosperma chamissonis, giant swamp taro or kakake as it is called on Makira and throughout Solomon Islands. Previously, it was a reserve food or restricted to ceremonial use, now it is common in all villages from Tawarogha to Wanahata. Banana is also important, as it is throughout the island, but taro and yam/pana are in decline. Taro has been decimated by alomae, a lethal virus disease, which has been brought to the island in infected planting material in the last 15 years or so. In some villages the disease is known as maehana hui. Yam/pana are little affected by pests and diseases but they no longer fit farming systems that are intensifying in response to population increase. There is growing interest in processing foods, in particular, making chips from bananas.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Posted 1:50 PM by Luigi
Biofuels in the Pacific
By Jan Cloin and Shane Fairlie, SOPAC, Suva, Fiji. In Island Business.
The steadily increasing world market price for fossil fuels has aroused significant interest in the development of local sources of energy in the Pacific Islands.
Key experiences in Vanuatu, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Fiji indicate there is a special case for the economic viability of biofuel in the Pacific. Over the last 20 years, the price of coconut oil on the world market has consistently decreased, and after a period of relatively low diesel prices, the last five years have seen diesel prices progressively increase.
Only recently, imported diesel in the Pacific has become more expensive than the net value of exported coconut oil, suddenly making coconut oil a serious commodity option for internal use as biofuel.
At the global level, ambitious targets set by countries to achieve a significant reduction in fossil fuel usage has caused an increase in world market prices for vegetable oil and sugar, as well as a tempering effect on crude oil prices. At the same time, environmental concerns that are driving the biofuel industry in the European Union are causing environmental problems through wide scale deforestation of palm plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia.
In the Pacific, the call for the use of locally produced biofuels has been based mainly on the desire to reduce dependency on imported fossil fuels. However, research conducted by the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) about the impact of biofuel on government finances, found that as coconut oil and sugar are important export products, using them to replace imports will also cause a decrease in total export revenue. In addition, if duties and excises are waived so as to promote the use of biofuels, the total impact on government finances might be negative.
In Fiji, the relatively small size of the sugar industry makes it difficult for Fiji to be competitive with ethanol on the world market. However, the cost levels appear to be close to serving Fiji’s domestic market with a petrol substitute. The World Bank will investigate this further in 2007 in partnership with the Fiji Sugar Corporation.
Although costs to produce biodiesel based on coconut oil are still quite high, another cheaper option is the use of waste vegetable oil as raw material, which can make it competitive with regular diesel. In other Pacific countries, Tobolar copra mill in the Marshall Islands is retailing a 50/50 filtered coconut oil and diesel blend below the price of regular diesel. Recently, a SOPAC inspection into a local car run for three years on various coconut oil blends, found no long-term engine deterioration and one can now even smell coconut fumes along the main road in Majuro.
In Vanuatu, there are two retailers refining coconut oil to either a mix with 20 percent kerosene or with 50 percent diesel. Despite the reduced prices supported by government, the uptake is still limited, but nonetheless growing. In September, a similar blend was launched by Solomon Tropical Products in Honiara at the 2006 National Trade Show after testing their product in local vehicles.
In Samoa, SOPAC has assisted with the use of coconut oil as a fuel in power generation, with EPC, the power utility in Samoa. In Vanuatu, the power utility UNELCO, has embarked on ‘industrialising’ the production of fuel-grade coconut oil and using it in its generators in a blend of 10 percent that is supporting the local industry and decreasing emissions.
In PNG, many local suppliers of fuel have started to blend filtered coconut oil with diesel, including Unitech in Lae, which has been successfully trialling biofuel blends in engines as part of their mechanical engineering research. Another supplier, PNG SD, is using mining proceeds to attempt to make power generation in remote communities commercially viable.
Many technical options exist to utilise biofuels. The big question however, is where we will get the raw materials to produce biofuels. At the global level, International Energy Agency scenarios suggest that biofuels can only contribute about 20 percent of transport fuel consumption in 2030 due to problems with arable land availability and food market competition.
However, in the Pacific, assuming significant government support for major replanting and industry restructuring, SOPAC estimates the current regional potential in 2010 for biofuels (ethanol and biodiesel) is about 30 percent of all transport fuels. As there is no country in the world that has a biofuel industry without the backing of government policies and incentives, there is a very important role for national legislators in the region to ensure the adoption of standards and provide tangible support.
The Pacific biofuel advantage is in no small part due to our natural resources. Our colonial heritage of dedicated coconut tree plantations gives us the edge to make biofuel a real economic and environmental alternative. Although we will not be able to replace all fossil fuels in the near future, biofuels provide part of the solution and should therefore be pursued vigorously by governments in partnership with the private sector. Biofuels will then decrease our dependency on fossil fuels and build greater confidence in our own Pacific assets.
Posted 1:29 PM by Luigi
New paper on carotenoid in bananas
“Carotenoid and vitamin content of Karat and other Micronesian banana cultivars” by Lois Englberger, J Schierle, W Aalbersberg, P Hofmann, J Humphries, A Huang, A Lorens, A Levendusky, J Daniells, GC Marks, and MH Fitzgerald, International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition.
Abstract: We previously found high carotenoid levels in Karat and other Micronesian bananas, indicating potential importance for alleviating vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and other nutritionally-related health problems in the Federated States of Micronesia. Past work focused on carotenoid and mineral analyses, whereas here we investigated 16 cultivars (most not previously analysed) for a broader micronutrient profile, including seven vitamins. Karat carotenoid levels were higher than in previous analyses, confirming Karat as exceptionally carotenoid-rich. We identified an additional 10 carotenoid-rich cultivars, expanding the range having potential for alleviating VAD. A striking finding is the high riboflavin level in Karat, including high levels of uncharacterised flavonoids. Niacin and ?-tocopherol are at levels that may contribute importantly to dietary intake within normal patterns of consumption. These data present a more complete basis for promoting the nutritional benefits of these banana cultivars where they are consumed in the Pacific and potential benefits for promoting elsewhere.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Posted 3:53 PM by Luigi
Sugarcane threatened in PNG
By PETER KORUGL in The National.
PAPUA New Guinea will ban all sugarcane materials from Australia as it takes measures to contain the spread of the deadly sugarcane smut disease that is fast spreading north from Australia.The National Agriculture Quarantine and Inspection Authority (NAQIA) and PNG’s biggest sugar producer – Ramu Sugar Limited – are looking at ways to keep the disease out of the country.One of those strategies will be to ban all sugarcane materials entering PNG from Australia, the two organisations said yesterday,“We want strict quarantine measures to be applied at all ports of entry into PNG.“All persons coming into PNG from sugarcane growing regions of Australia will go through strict quarantine procedures,” Dr Lastus Kuniata, Ramu Sugar Limited’s senior principal scientist and PNG’s leading sugar expert told The National yesterday.Papua New Guinea and Fiji are the only countries in the world that do not have sugarcane smut.The disease was found in the Ord River district in Western Australia in 1998. Recently, it was discovered in Queensland in the Bundaberg and Chidders sugarcane growing areas and now in Mackay.“In an attempt to minimise the potential risk of introducing sugarcane smut into PNG, strict quarantine monitoring procedures will apply to all incoming travellers and equipment. “This includes a ban on all movement of sugarcane materials from Australia to PNG unless these canes were subjected to proper quarantine procedures and from an Australian Quarantine Inspection authority approved facility,” Dr Kuniata said.The position taken by Ramu Sugar is supported by NAQIA, whose managing director Andrew Yamanea sent out an alert this week about the disease, saying that “the disease causes crop losses of 30% or more”.“In PNG, the disease has the potential to affect the chewing cane and ‘pitpit’ in the cillages.“The local germplasm or genetic source may also be affected causing ‘genetic erosion’,” Mr Yamanea said in a statement.The disease is caused by a fungus. Affected sugarcane plants are easily identified by a black whip-like structure that forms at the top of a shoot or stalk.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Posted 4:30 PM by Luigi
News from PNG
From the DIDINET newsletter (Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org), PNG National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI).
Woman farmer receives International Award
A Papua New Guinean farmer and women leader has been recognised internationally for being one of the most outstanding role models for women farmers in PNG. From Mutzin in the Markham valley, Maria Linibi (51), was bestowed with an international award by Switzerland based Women’s World Summit Foundation for her leading role in agricultural innovations and rural development.
This year’s award, titled “Women’s Creativity in Rural Life”, was given to 14 laureates from around the world and Mrs Linibi was among five from the Asia and Oceania category. Other awardees under this category were two from China and one each from India and Indonesia.
Mrs Linibi was nominated by PNG’s National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) and the Queensland Department of Primary Industry, Australia.
A proud Mrs Linibi said women’s silent whispers have been heard around the globe. Said Mrs Linibi: “To be recognised in the world is a privilege to me, PNG women farmers and the farming community at large”.
A highly competent farmer and business women in her own right, Mrs Linibi and her husband have huge experiences as farmers and trainers in agriculture. They have stood out as model farmers and their potentials are well recognised within the PNG farming and agriculture circles.
Mrs Linibi worked as a public servant with the Western Highlands Provincial Government for many years and after resigning in 1990, she has gone into farming with her husband and became successful. She has tirelessly used her experience to stimulate and encourage women farmers in a range of skills and techniques in farming throughout the country.
Some of the agricultural research and development organisations that Mrs Linibi works with as a farmer, farmer representative, trainer and farmer extension worker include NARI, Fresh Produce Development Agency, Cocoa and Coconut Institute, Department of Agriculture and Livestock, Ramu Sugar Limited and the Republic of China on Taiwan. Mrs Linibi is also a member of the NARI Council, representing PNG women farmers and smallholders from the Momase region.
Morobe Agricultural Show
The 46th Morobe Provincial Agricultural Show was again organised by the Show Society from November 4-5, 2006. Thousands of farmers, school students and people of all works of life flocked the Lae Show Ground to see displays and demonstrations and other entertaining activities. A number of agricultural research and development organisations showcased their initiatives on agricultural and rural development in PNG. These included Cocoa Coconut Institute, Department of Agriculture and Livestock, National Agricultural Research Institute, Coffee Industry Corporation and Alele Fresh Produce. Agribusinesses such as Trukai Industries and Ramu Sugar Limited again took the centre stage - also as sponsors of the two-day event.
Exhibitors ensured farmers and show goers got value for their money by providing them with information and technologies on a range of issues in food crop and livestock production, post harvest and down stream processing of food and other goods from locally available resources using simple techniques, and many more.
Adding flavour to these were the demonstration plots with life plants near stalls of some of these agricultural organisations at the showground.
PNG’s wild food crop species under microscope
A number of wild species of food crops in PNG have attracted the attention of the international community for characterization and documentation as experts believed they have no records of their existence. Scientists from Japan’s National Institute of Agro-Biological Sciences (NIAS) were in the country in July 2006 to collect wild rice (oryza spp.), wild vigna species, sago and other food crops species. This trip was their final in line with a Memorandum of Understanding with NARI three years ago to collect, conserve, characterize and document wild relatives of food crop species. They were in the Western and Gulf Provinces with staff from the National Agricultural Research Institute’s (NARI) Plant Genetic Resources rogramme.
NIAS learnt from old archives and herbarium specimens in Europe that PNG has a number of wild rice and wild vigna species. The MOU was for the scientists to identify what these species are and document what PNG has in the wild.
NARI PGR Programme Leader Rosa Kambuou said the scientific knowledge on these crop species is broaden and scientists now know where these wild progenitors are located and found in the country. She said the team is characterizing these collected germplasm through DNA fingerprinting techniques, adding that the wild rice of PNG are 'tetraploids' and would not be used in improvement programmes with the domesticated species, Oryza sativa, which is a 'diploid'.
The team collected not only wild relatives of vigna and rice but also of cassava, sago, bean, banana and aibika.
Agrobiodiversity Weblog: For discussions of conservation and sustainable use of the genetic resources of crops, livestock and their wild relatives.