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?



    Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    Satisfying Your Ancestral Appetite

    From: Catherine Zandonella, M.P.H National Geogrpahic - The Green Guide

    My daughter inherited the luminous blue eyes and ash-blonde hair of her Slavic father. Like her northern Italian-Scottish mother, spicy foods make her tummy hurt. Our genes shape not only how we look but also how we respond to foods.

    Researchers are taking an active interest in how genes and diet influence our susceptibility to obesity and diseases like diabetes and cancer. Eating a diet that is right for an individual's genetic heritage can be healthier, they are finding. For example, about one-fifth of people of European descent have a genetic modification that puts them at increased risk of cardiovascular disease if they don't consume enough dietary folate.

    A return to a traditional diet rich in plant foods and low in added sodium, sugars and saturated fats may also help us maintain a healthy weight and stave off heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions. And a genetically appropriate diet possesses advantages beyond maintaining your health: It can help ensure the survival of indigenous food plants and preserve traditional farming practices.

    For millennia, people ate only plants or animals from their surroundings. As a result, we carry differences in our genes that permit us to digest and obtain nutrients from foods. For a simple example, look no further than milk. With the exception of people of European and African descent, most people cannot digest milk beyond infancy because the body stops producing lactase, an enzyme that breaks down the milk sugar, lactose. Europeans, however, acquired the ability to produce this enzyme into adulthood after they began keeping cattle about 7,500 years ago. Those that could digest milk survived lean times. African cattle herders separately developed and passed this trait to subsequent generations.

    "We have dozens of diet experts offering us a quick fix as if all of us have the same nutritional and health needs," says Gary Paul Nabhan, Ph.D., ethnobotanist and author of Why Some Like It Hot: Food, Genes and Cultural Diversity (Island Press, 2004, $24) and a co-founder of the indigenous-seed conservation organization Native Seeds/SEARCH. In reality, says Nabhan, "We all have different nutritional needs, and our ancestries are one of the factors that shapes that."

    Native Diets

    The devastating health effects of drastically changed eating habits within native populations demonstrate just how important ancestral diets are. Among the Pima Indians of Arizona, half of adults suffer from type 2 diabetes, the highest rate found in any population worldwide. Nabhan thinks that something in the genetic makeup of southwestern Native Americans makes them more susceptible to developing diabetes.

    This susceptibility is linked not only to what desert-dwelling native populations are eating, Nabhan suspects, but to what they are no longer eating. Their traditional diet was rich in fibrous, drought-resistant plants, such as prickly pear cactus, that resulted in a very slow increase in blood sugar. Perhaps, Nabhan suggests, those indigenous peoples, who were genetically adapted to metabolize slow-release foods, are less able than people of European descent to handle the rapid elevation of blood sugar caused by today's processed foods.

    Just as drought-resistant plants are right for desert dwellers, a meat-based diet appears to sit well with peoples who evolved in cold climates. Evenki reindeer herders in Russia derive almost half their calories from meat, more than twice the amount consumed by the average American. Yet Evenki men are leaner and have cholesterol levels that are 30 percent lower than the levels of American men, found William Leonard, Ph.D., professor of anthropology at Northwestern University. It turns out that the meat from reindeer and other free-ranging animals is less fatty, and lower in saturated fats, than meat from cattle and other feedlot animals. What's more, these herders appear to have a naturally higher metabolic rate, in which genes play a role, than American males, Leonard says.

    More evidence for the gene-nutrient influence on disease comes from studies on the benefits of traditional diet and lifestyle among Native Hawaiians, who suffer some of the highest mortality rates from diabetes, stroke, cancer and heart disease in the U.S. Native Hawaiians who returned to eating a diet rich in their ancestral foods, including sweet potatoes, seaweed and their staple crop taro—a root vegetable loaded with fiber, vitamins and slow-release sugars—reduced their cholesterol and incidence of heart disease.

    The loss of traditional foodstuffs, however, is making it harder for native peoples to keep to their time-honored diets. In Hawaii, streams that once watered the taro fields were diverted to irrigate sugarcane and pineapple. Fortunately, in some locations, efforts are being made to encourage the preservation of traditional agricultural practices and the planting of native crops. For example, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, a grassroots effort has volunteers rerouting irrigation streams to the taro fields and planting the nutritious crop. In the Southwest, Nabhan and others are banking and distributing seeds of indigenous crops through Native Seeds/SEARCH. Worldwide, the Global Crop Diversity Trust is building a seed bunker on a remote Norwegian island, a sort of "Noah's Ark" for the world's indigenous seeds.

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