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, April 30, 2007

    Kerala commercial capital to host 2nd International Coconut Summit

    From: Kerala News

    India, despite being a major coconut producer, is lagging behind smaller producers in applying value addition and introducing new coconut-based products in the world market, chairman of the International Coconut Summit K I Vasu said today.

    Announcing the holding of the second International Coconut Summit here from May 7 to 11, Dr Vasu said the summit would focus on production and processing technologies in coconut and coir sector, innovations and profitable marketing in national and international markets.

    A business meet would be held on May ten as part of the summit for the benefit of potential entrepreneurs to become familiar with emerging technologies, he said in a release here.

    Experts from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Jamaica and Ivory Coast would be taking part in the summit, which would be inaugurated by Kerala Governor R L Bhatia on May seven.

    State Finance Minister Thomas Issac would preside over the function, which would also be attended by Orissa Agriculture Minister Surendra Naik, Coir Board Chairman A C Jose and Coconut Development Board Chairperson Minnie Mathew.

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    Sunday, April 29, 2007

    Could coconuts power cars in Fallon?

    From: Lahontan Valley News

    Publisher EmeritusThe high cost of gasoline is causing escalating financial pain to thousands of drivers in Fallon and Churchill County.A round trip to Reno or Carson City for daily commuters or those on shopping trips and medical appointments can set drivers back about $25 in fuel costs.

    As a consequence of rising gas prices, every day we read in the papers and hear on radio and TV about alternative remedies being sought for the traditional gasoline-powered engine.Ethanol, utilizing a mixture of corn and gasoline, is being sold in some parts of the country.

    Car and truck manufacturers are building more and more hybrid vehicles that run on both gasoline and electric power.In the desperate search to find substitutes for the gasoline engine, scientists have even turned to the Stirling Engine, invented in 1816 by Scotsman Robert Stirling.

    Southern California Edison and the Phoenix-headquartered Stirling Energy System are working together to refine Robert Sterling's 191-year-old invention, an engine that is fueled by air alternately warmed and cooled that ultimately creates a heat exchange that powers pistons that in turn power an engine.

    Closer to home, a bio-diesel plant will be built in Hazen that can convert soy oil into an agricultural bio-diesel product that can be turned into a motor fuel.But, hey, I've got even a better plan for beating the high cost of gasoline in Northern Nevada and the rest of the nation:Why not consider the use of coconut oil as a substitute for gasoline?Don't snicker.

    Coconut oil today is being used in a few parts of the world, and I saw it in use four months ago during the week I spent in the Marshall Islands in the mid-Pacific.During my stay in Majuro, capital of the 60,000-inhabitant independent nation, I met Jerry Kramer, an expatriate American who owns several major construction companies, shipping lines and a major hotel on Majuro Atoll.These businesses operate under Kramer's Pacific International Inc., and one of the subsidiaries is his Toblar Copra Processing Authority.

    Copra is the dried meat of the insides of a coconut. Coconut oil, in turn, is produced from the grinding, processing and boiling in water of copra. Copra is harvested from the countless coconut trees found in the Marshalls and other islands of the Pacific. Coconut trees also grow in Hawaii, Florida and Southern California."

    David, you won't believe it, but at my Toblar plant here on Majuro we're turning coconut oil into fuel for cars and trucks. Several of my company's vehicles are running on coconut oil. I'll arrange a visit for you at our coconut oil plant," he told me.

    An hour later, I was inside the massive Toblar plant with its assistant manager, Witon Barry, as my guide.Pointing outside to the pier where a large inter-island ship was tied up, Barry told me the vessel had just brought in a load of coconuts from the outer islands that was now being processed into copra and coconut oil."We use the oil to run our vehicles, and the rest of the copra is used for making soap, body oils and other products.

    The husks of the coconuts' outer shells are used to make such products as ropes, brooms, door mats, the inside padding of automobile seats and charcoal.

    "But it was the use of coconut oil that interested me the most, and Barry took me to an outside pump where coconut oil was being inserted into a Mazda diesel pickup truck. "We can use the coconut oil only on diesel engines, and we use a mixture of 70 percent coconut oil and 30 percent kerosene. We use them on our cars, trucks, boats and heavy equipment. Several government cars also run on coconut oil and fill up at our pump. We've had no problems with the diesel engines," he added.

    Coconut oil-powered diesel vehicles are being used in other Pacific nations such as Tuvalu, the Cook Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu. In the latter nation, most of the government cars are run on coconut oil as well as rental cars, cranes and heavy-duty trucks.Operators of these vehicles report that the coconut oil burns slower than regular diesel, produces more even pressure on engine pistons, reduces engine wear and lubricates the engines more effectively.

    So why not experiment with coconut oil in Churchill County? Forward-looking folks are now growing grapes here to make into wine. Are there any entrepreneurs out there who can also introduce coconut trees to the Oasis of Nevada?

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    Indonesian governors vow to step up conservation effort

    From: ABC Radio Australia

    Governors from three key Indonesian rainforest provinces have promised to take steps to curb logging, as part of efforts to reduce the impact of climate change.

    The pledge came in a joint statement issued after a World Bank sponsored meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali. The governors of Aceh, Papua and West Papua provinces also appealed to Jakarta and the international community to provide financial incentives through carbon trading schemes.

    Aceh's governor says he has agreed to a temporary ban on logging in the province, while the governors of Papua and West Papua provinces say they have promised to revoke logging licences of companies that fail to replant or assist local communities.

    Thousands more forest rangers will also be recruited as part of the conservation effort.

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    Thursday, April 26, 2007

    Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT)

    From: Dr Mary Taylor, SPC

    The Regional Germplasm Centre, which has been serving the region since 1998, is now expanding its services to Trees and so has changed its name to reflect this change - it is now known as the Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT). We are turning our attention to forest trees because of their importance in the region both for food security and income generation. CePaCT will initially focus on micropropagation of forest tree species and research has already started with sandalwood. The future will see CePaCT developing expertise in seed storage as well, and to this end we are in discussions with USP to have a Masters student working in the area of recalcitrant seeds. Funding for these activities is being provided by Australia through the SPC LRD Forest and Trees Programme

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    Taro To Become Hawaii State Plant In 18 Years

    From: The Hawaii Channel.com

    HONOLULU -- Gov. Linda Lingle has signed a measure making taro the state plant of Hawaii in the year 2025.
    Lingle approved the bill even though lawmakers put an incorrect effective date on the measure.
    It's too late in the legislative process to fix the mistake this year. But Lingle asked lawmakers to review the law in the 2008 legislative session.

    Lingle said it makes more sense to sign this bill and to fix it next year rather than start over from scratch.

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    Poor farmers write own crop wishlist

    From: ABC News and Science

    Plant breeding that combines scientific breeding methods with the local knowledge of poor farmers is being used to improve nutrition among the world's most disadvantaged.

    Dr Jacqueline Ashby of the newly launched Rural Innovation Institute in Cali, Colombia, says such "participatory plant breeding" (PPB) involves farmers telling breeders the range of traits they want in a plant, or evaluating varieties before they are officially released.

    "Farmers will evaluate varieties right through to the cooking pot," says Ashby, whose institute falls under the auspices of the World Bank-sponsored International Center for Tropical Agriculture

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    Wednesday, April 25, 2007

    The Wisdom Of Palau's Elders

    From: Courant.com

    Village elders on the tiny Pacific island nation of Palau could teach New England's commercial fishing industry and Congress a thing or three about marine conservation.For generations, elders protected the tropical island's supply of reef fish using an age-old practice of rotating which stocks could be caught.

    But by the 1980s, the elders' wisdom had been shouldered aside. A growing population, worldwide demand for seafood and destructive fishing practices started to take a toll on the island's beloved snappers and groupers, which got smaller and fewer.

    In 1994 some elders pushed back, banning fishing on a small section of one local reef. Within years, islanders started to notice fish on the reef were bigger and more abundant.

    The reef became famous. Soon, other villages imposed bans. Palau now protects a 460-square-mile patchwork of reefs and lagoons and has become an international destination for recreational diving. Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Indonesia followed suit.

    Today, scientists are confirming what Palau's village elders seemed to know: Marine preserves protect the ocean's biodiversity and shield stocks from overfishing.

    Recently, California joined the movement to protect the health of oceans. State wildlife regulators adopted a sweeping plan creating an offshore network of connected ocean preserves where fishing and other human activities will be restricted or banned.

    The first phase protects 1,150 square miles of offshore areas along California's central coast. Human activity will be banned from 8 percent of those areas, leaving the remaining open to limited sport and commercial fishing.Scientists tell us that relentless overfishing could well cause the collapse of 90 percent of the world's commercial fisheries by mid-century.

    That goes for New England especially, where shortsighted management practices have kept many stocks teetering on the brink of exhaustion for decades.The New England Fishery Management Council seems incapable of rising to the level of wisdom shown by Palau's village elders. By moving to establish offshore marine preserves along New England's coast, Congress will ensure the protection of the region's once-plentiful fish stocks for future generations.

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    “A phylogeny of Pouteria (Sapotaceae) from Malesia and Australasia.”
    Australian Systematic Botany 20(2): 107–118.Triono, T., A. H. D. Brown, J. G. West and M. D. Crisp (2007).

    From: CSIRO Publishing


    The genus Pouteria Aublet is a pantropical group and many of its species produce high-quality timber and edible fruit. In 1991, on the basis of morphological characters, Pennington combined the genus Planchonella Pierre with Pouteria, expanding the latter genus to nine sections and 325 species. However, many Planchonella species were not included in his account and doubt remains about the generic limits of Pouteria sensu Pennington. This paper re-assesses the generic delimitation of Pouteria and its affinities with Planchonella from molecular data generated from the nuclear-encoded internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region. The analysis includes 22 Planchonella species and three Pouteria species sensu van Royen collected from Malesia and Australia, and seven additional Planchonella species from New Caledonia with molecular data available from GenBank. Other genera from Sapotaceae included in the analysis were Chrysophyllum, Niemeyera, Pichonia, Pycnandra and Xantolis (tribe Chrysophylleae) and Mimusops, Palaquium and Manilkara (outgroups from other tribes). The resulting ITS cladograms from both Bayesian and maximum parsimony analyses indicated that Malesian and Australasian Pouteria species are not monophyletic and comprise three separate lineages, therefore providing evidence against the broad circumscription of this genus by Pennington. Tertiary leaf venation type (reticulate, parallel or ramified), when mapped onto the phylogeny, correlated with these groupings, indicating that this character is taxonomically informative.

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    Tuesday, April 24, 2007

    Guidebook: Adapting to Global Warming

    From: King County

    Local government leaders will soon have a new tool to help them plan for the impacts of global warming, which range from drought and increased flooding to new diseases and invasive species that are harmful to humans and the environment.

    Peer review is about to begin on Setting the Course: A Guidebook on Planning for Global Warming, which is a framework that communities can use to prepare for and adapt to regional climate changes.

    The guide was co-authored by the internationally distinguished Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington, King County Executive Ron Sims (in Washington State), and King County's global warming team. ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability is a contributing partner and will distribute the guidebook nationally to its 250 U.S. member cities, towns and counties. Additionally, the guide will be available to any interested government across the world. King County is considered a national model for its work on global warming.

    The guidebook is designed to take the mystery out of planning for climate impacts by specifying the practical steps and strategies that can be put into place now to build community resilience into the future. These steps include creating a global warming adaptation team; identifying community vulnerabilities to global warming; and identifying, selecting and implementing adaptation options.

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    I just came across your blog about Global Warming and wanted to drop you a note telling you how impressed I was with the information you have posted here. I also have a blog about Global Warming so I know I'm talking about when I say your site is top-notch!Global Warming Keep up the great work, you are providing a great resource on the Internet here!
    Thanks for the complements. the threats in the region are very real
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    The First International Breadfruit Symposium on Research and Development

    From: Dr. Mary Taylor, Secretariat of the Pacific Community

    The First International Breadfruit Symposium on Research and Development took place in Nadi between 16-19 April. Participants came from far and wide, with representation from the African continent (Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania) The Seychelles, the Caribbean region (Trinidad and Jamaica), Sri Lanka and of course the Pacific (Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati, Pohnpei, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, and Australia. The Symposium covered a wide range of themes from Breadfruit in Society to Product Development and marketing.

    It was interesting to see that although breadfruit is considered an under-utilized crop, a significant amount of work has been carried out on breadfruit and there is a lot of information to be shared. This is what the meeting was about - sharing experiences and information in breadfruit, and looking at ways in which the future of breadfruit both as a food security crop and as a marketable commodity (domestic and export) could be strengthened.

    The Symposium consisted of 1.5 days of plenary where papers were presented by the majority of the participants. The Symposium was opened by Aleki Sisifa, who gave an excellent overview of breadfruit in the Pacific, and how it has developed into an important export commodity for some countries, such as Fiji and Samoa, yet at the same time remains an important food security crop especially for the atoll countries.

    The keynote address was given by Dr Diane Ragone, Director of the Breadfruit Institute, National Tropical Botanic Garden (NTBG) whose enthusiasm for, and commitment to breadfruit is apparent to all who meet her. Her efforts have ensured that more than 120 varieties from the Pacific are conserved in the world's largest collection of breadfruit (over 200 accessions) at the NTBG in Hawaii.

    On Tuesday afternoon the participants were treated to a very interesting and exciting field trip which was wonderfully organized by Sant Kumar, General Manager, Nature's Way (Cooperative) Fiji Ltd. The non-Pacific participants were very impressed by what they saw and the enthusiasm of Mr Kumar. They were also very impressed by the food that was on offer - nine different dishes, and all made of breadfruit!

    The remainder of the week was devoted to Working Groups and a focus session on the Global Crop Diversity Trust. The Working Groups focused on the issues which were generated from the presentations and also the discussions that followed the presentations. All groups were asked to prioritize some recommendations and these were presented on the Thursday morning.

    Following this presentation there was a focus session on developing a global strategy for the conservation and utilization of breadfruit, and discussing the sharing of breadfruit germplasm using the multilateral system on which the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) is based. This strategy and the recommendations from the Working Groups will be available in a brief Symposium report shortly.

    The proceedings for this Symposium will be published by the International Society for Horticultural Science as part of the standing series of Acta Horticulturae.

    This Symposium is the result of collaboration between international organizations including the Technical Centre for Rural and Agricultural Cooperation (CTA), the Breadfruit Institute, German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), International Centre for Underutilised Crops, Global Facilitation Unit for Under-Utilized species, the Global Crop Diversity Trust and SPC Land Resources Division.

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    Conference: 9th BIOECON Conference on Economics and Institutions for Biodiversity Conservation, 20-21 September 2007, Kings College Cambridge, UKAuthors:

    From : BIOECONProduced by: BIOECON (2007)

    The Ninth BIOECON Conference on Economics and Institutions for Biodiversity Conservation will take place 20-21 September 2007, Kings College Cambridge, UK.

    The conference will be of interest to both researchers and policy makers interested in or working in the management and conservation of biodiversity.

    The conference will have sessions examining institutional frameworks, the use of social capital and the management of knowledge for biodiversity conservation, as well as the economic analysis of policies for managing biodiversity in a context of high uncertainty.

    Papers are specifically invited on the themes of:
    • Different institutional frameworks for conservation (property rights, contracts, markets, trust funds, public institutions, etc.)
    • Role of informal rules such as social capital, trust and reputation in biodiversity conservation
    • Efficient knowledge management for the sustainable use of biodiversity
    • Foundations for providing for global public goods
    • Development of international institutions for biodiversity conservation
    • Institutions for payments for environmental services (and especially for international payments) and applied methodologies for valuation of ecosystem services (marine and terrestrial)

    See link to full text for more details or contact: Mare Sarr: m.sarr@ucl.ac.uk. Deadline for submissions: 30 April 2007. Available online at: http://www.eldis.org/cf/rdr/rdr.cfm?doc=DOC23661

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    Western and Choiseul Province (Solomon Island) Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster Rapid Assessment of Agriculture and Food Security

    From: Tony Jensen


    A team from Kastom Gaden Association conducted a rapid assessment of agriculture impacts of the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Western and Choiseul provinces. 15 villages were visited. The selection of villages was based on KGA partner locations and on opportunities that arose during the assessment. The findings are intended to help inform relevant agencies about impacts but more detailed surveys are needed in more locations. Urban areas (ie Gizo) were not included.

    Main findings:

    1) In general, in most locations surveyed, staple food production has not been affected. In Ranonnga and a few other areas where landslides damaged gardens or garden access, about 10-20% of households may face a serious shortage of food, another estimated 50-75% will face some mild to moderate food shortages in the coming months.

    2) Further wide scale rice distribution is not required. Only targeted food relief to particular identified needy families with significant garden losses should be made. Rice distribution is causing increasing conflict and delaying the return to normal food production activities which can cause food shortages in 3-4 months time if this continues.

    3) Urgent needs are location specific and need to be much better targeted. There are many urgent relief needs such as shelter, water/containers, basic household goods, clothing, kerosene and lamps that are required depending on location. These needs rather than food should be the main focus. Relief distribution has been observed to be uneven and some severely affected areas (e.g. Sasamuqa, Panarui and Kakaza) have received too little while some mildly affected areas have received too much.

    4) In severe tsunami affected areas livestock have been moderately to severely affected. In some instances 50-75% of poultry have been killed and 25-50% of pigs. Recovery of livestock numbers will be slow and difficult.

    5) Sup sup gardens, fruit and nut trees within villages have been moderately to severely affected in tsunami hit areas and in a few instances by land slides. They are not critical for food supply and most households will have adequate food to meet calorie needs but micro nutrient deficiencies will be of concern, particularly for children.

    6) Many small coastal gardens (e.g. banana and cassava) have been destroyed. In general these gardens are not critical for food supply as the bulk of staples is still available in bush gardens. But there may be some vulnerable individual households who relied on these coastal gardens who need to be identified. Such households will need targeted support.

    7) Coconut plantations have not been significantly affected. In tsunami areas and to a lesser extent earthquake areas numerous copra driers have been damaged or destroyed along with many copra sheds and other infrastructure. This is likely to have a substantial impact on copra production in affected communities.

    8) Sago palm and bush materials are generally still available with some losses. However in severely affected areas where large numbers of houses need to be rebuilt or villages are being resettled, there will not be enough sago palm and perhaps also other bush materials for construction to meet demand

    9) Very few households are resorting to use of emergency foods such as kakake or wild yams which indicates there is not an overall food shortage or that rice has arrived.
    10) Villages close to Gizo rely heavily on Gizo market for fresh produce marketing. Most of this has ceased due to fear to travel in the sea and many households being concerned to conserve the food they have available. Other local markets are or will operate normally apart from in severe tsunami impact areas where local marketing has stopped.

    11) Impact of reef destruction and reef raising is not yet know but is likely to be severe in Rannonga in particular. In future many communities will face decline in reef fish availability. Many tsunami affected villages have lost canoes and other equipment required for fishing.

    12) There is a shortage of garden tools (hoe, axe, bush knife) in severe tsunami affected areas and for some households who lost tools from landslides in earthquake affected areas.

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    Sunday, April 22, 2007

    Pacific islands suffer signs of climate change

    From: ScienceAlert Australia & New Zealand

    NIWA Science Small islands, including those in the South Pacific, are already experiencing the effects of climate change, according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

    Key findings from the IPCC’s Working Group II chapter on small islands are being released today as part of a worldwide series of regional briefings on the IPCC report about climate change impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability.

    Penehuro Lefale, of the New Zealand Meteorological Service (MetService), is one of the lead authors of the small islands chapter. He says the report identifies small islands, including those in the South Pacific, as one of four regions of the world likely to be especially affected by climate change. (The other three regions are: the Arctic, Africa, and Asian megadeltas).

    Observed climate trends cited by the small islands chapter include:
    • Annual and seasonal ocean surface and island air temperature have increased by 0.6 –1.0°C since 1910 throughout a large part of the region southwest of the South Pacific Convergence Zone
    • Fewer hot days and warm nights, and significantly fewer cool days and cold nights, particularly in years after the onset of El Niño, 1961–2003.
    • Analyses of satellite and tide gauge data show a maximum rate of sea level rise in the central and eastern Pacific, spreading north and south around the sub-tropical gyres of the Pacific Ocean near 90°E, mostly between 2 and 2.5 mm/year, peaking at over 3mm/year for the period 1950–2000.

    Future climate change projections include:
    • Increased seasonal surface air temperature ranging from 0.45 to 3.11°C, relative to the baseline period of 1961–1990, by 2100.
    • Projected changes in rainfall range from –14.0 to +14.6% by 2100 for the Southern Pacific. More rainfall is projected during summer months, with likelihood of more frequent heavy rainfall events.
    • Projected globally averaged sea level rise of 0.18 to 0.59 m by the end of the century, depending on model assumptions. Models indicate a geographical variation of sea level rise.
    • The number of intense cyclones is likely to increase, though the total number of cyclones overall may decrease on a global scale.
    "Overall, this assessment confirms and strengthens previous observations reported in earlier IPCC assessments that small islands are highly sensitive to climate change and sea level rise. It found adverse consequences of climate change and variability is already a reality for many inhabitants of small islands", says Pene Lefale.

    "Climate change is likely to heavily impact coral reefs, fisheries and other marine-based resources of small islands of the Pacific," he says. "There is likely to be a decline in the total tuna stocks and a migration of these stocks westwards, both of which will lead to changes in the catch in different islands."

    According to the report, "Sea-level rise is expected to exacerbate inundation, storm surge, erosion, and other coastal hazards, thus threatening vital infrastructure, settlements, and facilities that support the livelihood of island communities." For example, says Pene Lefale, "international airports on many small islands are mostly sited on or close to the coast, and the main – and often only – road network runs along the coast. Under sea-level rise scenarios, many of them are likely to be at serious risk."

    The report says climate change is expected by mid-century to reduce water resources in many small islands, including those in the Pacific, "to the point where they become insufficient to meet demand during low rainfall periods."

    "We’re also likely to see impacts on other sectors such as food security, human health, insurance, and tourism," says Lefale. "For example, if the intensity of tropical cyclones increases, a concomitant rise in significant damage to food crops and infrastructure is likely.

    Tropical Cyclone Ofa in 1990 turned Niue from a food-exporting country to one dependent on imports for the following two years, and Heta in 2004 had an even greater impact on agricultural production in Niue. In the health sector, many small islands currently suffer high health burdens from climate sensitive diseases, including morbidity and mortality from extreme weather events, certain vector borne diseases, food–and water–borne diseases. Increasing temperatures and decreasing water availability due to changes in extreme weather and El Niño Southern Oscillation events may increase burdens of climate sensitive diseases such as diarrhoeal and other infectious diseases in some small islands. With regard to tourism, deterioration in coastal conditions, such as through beach erosion or coral bleaching, is expected to reduce the value of these destinations for tourism."

    "Adapting to climate change is a challenge for many small islands," he says. "Past studies of adaptation options for small islands have been largely focused on adjustments to sea level rise and storm surges associated with tropical cyclones, with emphasis on protecting land through hard shore protection measures rather than on other measures such as accommodating sea level rise or retreating from it. More recent studies have identified major areas of adaptation, including water resources and water shed management, reef conservation, agricultural and forest management, conservation of biodiversity, energy security, increased development of renewable energy, and optimised energy consumption."

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    Indigenous Peoples on Climate Change Front Lines

    From Environment News Service.

    OXFORD, UK, April 19, 2007 (ENS) - The Inuit of the Arctic can no longer hunt safely as the ice is breaking up around them. Pacific Islanders are losing coral atolls beneath rising seas. Caribbean islanders are battered by violent storms. Tribes in Borneo watch as their rainforests catch fire. Tibetans wonder why their sacred glaciers are melting and why the alpine medicinal plants are disappearing.

    The threat of climate change to the world’s indigenous peoples was under the spotlight April 12 and 13 at an international symposium at Oxford University.

    Participants agreed that communication among indigenous peoples and with scientists and policymakers is critical in adapting to the climate changes already underway and averting the worst consequences of global warming.

    Visiting Fellow at Oxford University Dr. Jan Salick, host of the Oxford Indigenous People’s Symposium, said, "Both ethnoecological researchers and indigenous people themselves need to network and initiate comparable climate change research and action."

    "Indigenous peoples must be integrated into discussions of climate change and policy formation," he said.

    Scientists presented new research on the impacts of climate change on the indigenous Peoples of the Pacific, Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, North America, South America, Africa and Europe where they depend directly on natural resources threatened by global warming. The recent climate change summary report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, only mentioned "detrimental impacts ... to traditional indigenous ways of life’ in the Polar regions."

    Yet according to the symposium organizers from Oxford's Environmental Change Institute, "Indigenous Peoples are in the immediate frontline of vulnerability to climate change.

    "Although they have a global geographic spread and broad cultural diversity, there is a risk that the international climate change forum has lost sight of the immense collective danger they face," the organizers said.

    Presentaters stressed the multifaceted nature of climate changes, not only in the wide variety of impacts, but also in the interplay with other processes such as inter-annual variation, habitat fragmentation, loss of biodiversity, disempowerment, insecurity, and lack of understanding.

    Recurrent topics were the role that indigenous and local peoples play in maintaining and strengthening the resilience of healthy ecosystems, as well as the spiritual, emotional and moral implications of climate changes to local peoples.

    Many indigenous peoples are showing how resourceful they are in applying their traditional knowledge to create strategies for lessening the impacts of natural disasters.

    Some use strips of mangrove forest to absorb the force of tidal surges and tsunamis, others apply genetic diversity in crops to avoid total crop failure, and some communities migrate among habitats as disaster strikes, participants heard.

    The symposium ended with a continuing planning session on conjoined research and action for and by indigenous and local peoples to afford them more prominence in the international climate change discussion and action.

    Pablo Eyzaguirre from Bioversity International, an international agricultural research center, said, "Indigenous and traditional communities should be supported in their unique adaptation to marginal areas and ecosystem boundaries. We need to respect ecosystem buffers that also provide livelihoods, sacred spaces, and pathways for traditional peoples."

    The symposium's opening session consisted of a general overview of climate change impacts and implications on the global scale. Director of the Environmental Change Institute, Professor Diana Liverman reviewed recent publications, such as the Stern and IPCC reports, global, British and EU policy developments, and initiatives developed by non-state actors such as corporations, cities and nongovernmental organizations.

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    New PAPGREN Coordinator

    Hello. This serves to inform you that I have just started work as the new PAPGREN Coordinator, taking over from Luigi Guarino, who now works with Global Crop Diversity Trust in Rome, Italy. Luigi was in Fiji for the First International Breadfruit Symposium from the 16th to the 19th of April 2007 and he extended his stay for a few more days at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in Nabua to ensure a smooth transition.

    One of the things that I would like to ensure is continuation of this PGR News from the Pacific. I know that the flow of information has slowed down since Luigi left in December, but I hope it will pick up again now that I am on board. Please send me any items of news or information you would like to share with the other 500 or so people on the mailing list, and thank you for your continuing interest in PGR News from the Pacific.

    Best regards, and I look forward to continuing to inform you on PGR issues in the Pacific.

    Tevita Kete
    PGR Officer

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    Wednesday, April 18, 2007

    Making wine in the South Pacific

    From The Indipendent.

    Published: 08 April 2007

    Remote Rangiroa in French Polynesia is the second biggest atoll in the world. About 40 miles long, it lies 180 miles from Tahiti and is one of 77 atolls in the distant Tuamotu archipelago, fragments of land that are scattered like confetti on an ocean of ink.

    Until a century ago Rangiroa was principally a hideout for pirates and landfall for cyclones. Today it is one of the world's most unusual producers of wine.

    To reach the vineyard there I was told to bring my bathing suit and snorkel gear and get down to the atoll's only dock. Fisher, the boatman, said that on the way across the lagoon we might see small sharks, leopard rays and turtles and that I might want to swim with them.

    The journey takes about 15 minutes by high-speed motor launch, skidding across the turquoise surf inside the reef. You land at what looks like a Hollywood director's dream of a Robinson Crusoe island with powdery coral beach and palm trees waving beneath a cloudless sky.

    In one area there are banyan trees right down to the water's edge, so you don't see the vineyard from the shore. But after a few paces, there in front of you, neatly fenced in by a boundary of coconut trees and wild gardenia bushes, is the most perfect, dinky little vineyard.

    When I was there the neat rows of rich green vines were heavy with deliciously fat and juicy white and red grapes. Fisher took his machete and cut a bunch of each for me to taste.

    It is unlikely that the Rangiroa vineyard will worry the producers in the Loire and Burgundy unduly. The family of the widow Clicquot has little to fear. Even so, last year this vineyard produced 50,000 bottles of Vin de Tahiti. At about £12 a bottle, some of them are making their way to the tables of restaurants in France.

    Apart from coconuts Rangiroa's main produce was black pearls before Dominique Auroy, a rich French wine enthusiast, arrived. Given that Polynesia imports four million bottles of wine a year, he thought he'd make his own.

    He tried a few of the other Polynesian islands first, and settled on Rangiroa because it has an unbelievable sunshine record and yet rainfall as heavy as England's. The poor limestone soil made up of coral debris was a problem but he shipped in 200 tons of earth from Tahiti and then the vines from France and Italy: Carignan from the south of France, a red grape, Muscat de Hambourg, and an Italian vine for sweet white wine.

    Then he hired Sébastien Thépénier, one of France's leading oenologists, as his storemaster and winemaker. I met Sébastien at the air-conditioned cave where he was inspecting the progress of the latest harvest, the wine maturing well in giant metal barrels. Sébastien offered me a glass of the rosé. It was delicious: refreshing but with a slightly woody, chalky aftertaste. When I told him this he took a stone and banged it against the wall and then asked me to run my tongue against it. It had a similar taste. It was, I realised, the taste of coral, the taste of the island.

    Sébastien explained that in the tropics there is no winter as in Europe. Temperatures rarely fall below 18C and the weather in the so-called winter season is characterised by a strong southerly wind, the maramu, which cools the lower air levels. "Vines," he said "originate in areas where their growth cycle is controlled by the seasons, allowing them to rest before giving us their fruit. The challenge here was to trick the vines into believing there was a European-type winter in these latitudes. To achieve this we control the growth cycle through pruning. The vines now produce two harvests every year, instead of one."

    At harvest time the grapes are taken to the village of Avatoru by boat where they are crushed. At no other vineyard in the world do the grapes have to be transported by canoe. I rather liked the publicity pictures Sebastien showed me for Vin de Tahiti. They feature muscular islanders, stripped to the waist in colourful sarong-like skirts. Garlanded with crowns of tiare, gardenia-like flowers, and wearing necklaces of pink frangipani, they heave boxes of black grapes into their canoes. A trifle camp, perhaps, but wonderfully, eccentrically exotic.

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    Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    Fiji hosts symposium on breadfruit

    From the Fiji Times, April 17, 2007

    THE economic benefits of breadfruit are still under utilised in most areas in the region, an international symposium in Nadi has heard.

    The director of the South Pacific Commission's Land Resource Division, Aleki Sisifa, said breadfruit was under utilised for food security and income generation.

    He said this was due to the low priority from governments and research institutes.

    Mr Sisifa was addressing the first international breadfruit symposium to be held in the Pacific.
    The symposium, which started yesterday, has attracted participants from as far as Sri Lanka, Trinidad, Jamaica, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana, Benin and Seychelles.

    It also has participants from the Federated States of Micronesia, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, Tuvalu and Fiji.

    Mr Sisifa said breadfruit was also under utilised because there was a limited knowledge of its genetic diversity available and how best to use that diversity.

    Mr Sisifa said the symposium was fitting, as breadfruit originated from the Pacific.
    He said breadfruit was most extensively used in the Pacific.

    The symposium aimed to increase awareness about the importance of breadfruit in food systems in the African, Caribbean and Pacific. It also aimed to open up opportunities for a more diverse use of breadfruit through sharing information and establishing research and development priorities.

    Mr Sisifa said in the past three decades, there had been an awakening to the potentials of increasing the food supply across the Pacific by more planting of selected varieties of seedless breadfruit.

    He said breadfruit was the main staple crop in many Pacific countries, particularly on the atolls.

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    Saturday, April 14, 2007

    New book about Pacific food plants from ACIAR

    Gardens of Oceania

    Author(s): Annie Walter and Vincent Lebot, English translation by Paul Ferrar

    Summary: Gardens of Oceania summarises available knowledge about numerous food plants with commercial potential, in order to assure the development of an agriculture that can produce sufficient to cope with teh formidable population growth while at the same time preserving the Vanuatu environment.

    Order or download it from the ACIAR website at http://www.aciar.gov.au/web.nsf/doc/ACIA-6ZVAGX.

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    Tuesday, April 03, 2007

    Research and local knowledge

    Radio Australia.

    A new book about the way scientific research is conducted in the Pacific says local communities want more control over the process. "Pacific Genes and Life Patents" otlines several acrimonious encounters between researchers and communities over local human, plant and animal genes. The book says a lack of regulation and knowledge of genetic technology and intellectual patent law has made the Pacific a major target for researchers looking for medical and pharmaceutical resources.

    You can download the book, edited by Aroha Mead (Llamado de la Tierra) and Dr Steven Ratuva (University of the South Pacific, Fiji), from the Llamado de la Tierra website
    here, but it is big!

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    Sunday, April 01, 2007

    $200,000 loss for top coconut furniture firm

    From the Fiji Times, Monday, April 02, 2007

    THE country's leading manufacturer and exporter of palmwood furniture, Pacific Green Limited has announced a loss of $200,000.

    But management of PGL was adamant that the company's performance was very impressive especially since the company had overcome many difficult situations over the past year.

    PGL Chairman, John Holmes said the management had fulfilled its responsibility of establishing the company's position as the pre-eminent palmwood furniture manufacturer in the world.

    Mr Holmes said the loss incurred could be attributed to restructuring costs and the closing of the warehousing operations in Australia. He also said other issues like US market development costs affected their financial position.

    He said the company's financial performance had to be viewed in harmony with two major advances. "Firstly, there is the consolidations of our strong design, manufacturing, marketing and consumer chain," he said.

    "This stretches from St Petersburg and all around the Pacific."

    "Secondly, we have established, from the ground up, a world class factory in Dongguan City. This is located perfectly as it enables us to supply consistent quality production at a realistic profit into all our markets," Mr Holmes said.

    He also said the fire that destroyed their factory in Sigatoka dealt a major blow to their operations.

    Mr Holmes said the closure was a major impediment that affected decisions that included the structure of the subsidiary company in China and the rebuilding in Fiji.

    Mr Holmes said while Fiji was the heart of operations, their goal was to develop operations locally to ensure it was able to compete with Asia operations.

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    Genetic modification of taro plant pits Hawaiians against some scientists
    , Sunday, April 1, 2007

    HONOLULU: Both scientists and Native Hawaiians want to save the sacred taro plant from an uncertain future, but they strongly disagree on whether genetic modification is the answer.

    Native Hawaiians believe the taro, which is used to make the starchy food poi and revered as an ancestor of the Hawaiian people, should not be tampered with. Taro, tall and broad-leafed, rise from paddy-like patches around the islands, and the purplish poi, a glutinous substance avoided by some, is an essential ingredient at Hawaiian luaus.

    Researchers say the only way to protect the taro plant from spreading modern plant diseases is to insert resistant genes from rice, wheat and grape crops, altering the basic structure of the plant.

    State lawmakers have stalled a bill sought by many Hawaiians that would have placed a statewide moratorium on genetic modification of taro for 10 years.

    "How bad do things have to get before those who are anti-genetic modification will admit that taro needs help?" asked Susan Miyasaka, a researcher at the University of Hawaii-Hilo, who has been testing Chinese taro breeds. "The taro farmers are having trouble making ends meet."

    About 50 protesters who gathered at a rally at the state Capitol on Friday said they don't want the so-called help that scientists say they can provide.

    They question whether genetic modification will be any more effective than traditional crossbreeding techniques, and they worry that genetically modified crops could contaminate their Hawaiian taro breeds.

    For some of the demonstrators, the issue about preserving the purity of the taro rather than the scientific merits of genetic modification.

    "What we're really angry about is that the biotech industry has turned this into a genetic modification issue," said Hawaiian activist Walter Ritte. "This is about us protecting our family member."

    According to Hawaiian legend, the cosmic first couple gave birth to a stillborn child, Haloa, from whose gnarled body sprang the broad-leafed plant whose roots are ground into poi. The Hawaiian people, it is believed, came from a second brother, making the plant part of their common ancestry.

    Since ancient Hawaiian times, taro yields have dropped from 48,000 pounds (22,000 kilograms) per acre to 11,000 pounds (5,000 kilograms) per acre, Miyasaka said. Her research with preliminary tests has shown that her genetically modified Chinese taro is resistant to leaf blight, and she hopes to begin greenhouse trials soon.

    The University of Hawaii has agreed not to do research on Hawaiian types of taro, and it will be careful to prevent their experimental taro from breeding with native varieties, said Stephanie Whalen, president and director of the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center.

    But scientists see no harm in continuing taro research.

    "Just because you have research and development doesn't mean you're going to commercialize," Whalen said. "If they don't want it, nothing will happen."


    On the Net:

    Taro research: http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/gmo/documents/Update-GE-Dec14-06.pdf

    Center for Food Safety: http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/

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