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?



    Sunday, September 23, 2007

    Seed sense

    From : Society Guardian

    Hundreds of vegetable varieties have been lost from UK soils and are now illegal to grow. But the conservation battle goes on Judy Steele is growing a row of peas called Carruther's Purple Podded in her Warwickshire garden. She would not find this variety in her local garden centre or in any seed merchant's catalogue. In fact, it is illegal to buy seeds of this old variety. But Steele is not a criminal or a botanical terrorist. She describes herself as "a foster-mother for orphaned pea varieties," and is one of 300 seed guardians for Garden Organic.
    Garden Organic - formally known as the Henry Doubleday Research Association, based at Ryton, near Coventry - has developed an extensive seed library of 800 traditional vegetable varieties grown in Britain and which are now outlawed by European legislation.
    "During Victorian times, seeds were available from local growers, and gardeners knew who to complain to if they didn't grow, but gradually seed companies got bigger and more remote," says Sandra Slack, head of Garden Organic's seed library. "Plant breeders' rights began in the 1920s. To protect customers and to standardise the seed business across borders, the EU intervened in the 1970s, making sure that seed varieties were properly tested. Unfortunately, testing is expensive and those varieties not tested were dropped. If a variety has been dropped from the approved common catalogue, then its seeds cannot be bought or sold."
    These days, it is easier to grow cannabis than Carruther's Purple Podded peas or Auntie Madge's tomato or Mr Stiff's bunching onion. Worried that these old varieties would vanish unless they were in circulation, Garden Organic set up what it calls the Heritage Seed Library to rescue our vegetable treasures from extinction. To stay within the law, a scheme was established whereby gardeners pay to become members of the seed library, and each year they are given a selection of six of the hundreds of varieties to grow.
    This is not just a smart wrinkle to get around EU rules. There are important cultural and scientific reasons for growing old kinds of vegetables. Many varieties that find their way into the library are part of a very personal history, as well as contributing to local cultural identity and distinctiveness.
    The pea called Carlin came from a family that had inherited it 100 years ago, when a great grandfather received seeds as a wedding present. This variety dates back at least to Elizabethan times and is still eaten - doused in beer and mint - in parts of the north of England on the Sunday before Palm Sunday - known regionally as Carlin Sunday. One version of the Carlin legend has it that a shipload of these peas arrived in Newcastle upon Tyne when it was besieged in 1644 and saved many from starvation.
    Seeds carry these stories through the generations, and also across continents. Few beans can be as poignant as the Cherokee Trail of Tears. In the winter of 1838-39, Cherokee people in the US were forced to march from their lands in Georgia, over the Smoky Mountains in appalling conditions, to be confined in a reservation 1,000 miles away; 4,000 died on the way. The shiny black bean the Cherokee took with them is an important heirloom seed for the American organisation Seed Savers Exchange, based in Iowa, but it has also been grown in Britain for a long time and is in HDRA's seed library.
    In the last 100 years, 90% of UK vegetable varieties have been lost from our soils. The same thing has happened in the rest of the world. This loss has been globalisation's gain. Only three corporations now control a quarter of the world's seed markets, and many of the seeds available in catalogues are legally protected hybrids that cannot be saved, or won't come "true" if they are.
    In developing countries, saving food plant seed - a traditional practice for which farmers and growers have been criminalised - is tied to the politics of globalisation through issues such as food sovereignty and intellectual property rights: whoever controls seeds controls a people's ability to feed themselves. In Europe and America, vegetable seed conservation is more about the custodianship of genetic and cultural heritage.
    Heritage, in the sense of preserving the past, can become a selection of what we like about history and freezing it in time, even though the world that created it has long gone. So it is with seeds. To conserve the world's food seeds for the future, the Global Crop Diversity Trust has built the "doomsday vault", the first global seed bank, housed in a frozen bunker buried under the island of Spitzbergen, near the North Pole. It is intended to protect 3m seed samples from nuclear war, asteroid strike and climate change.
    Seeds are more than a metaphor for our hopes for the future, and getting them growing - and contributing to biological diversity - can have more value than locking them up in a vault - especially when faced with climate change.
    "Seed conservation is important, but if we keep growing these old varieties - many of which have adapted to very local conditions - we will understand more about their adaptability to changes in climate, pests and diseases," Slack says. "For example, peas prefer cooler conditions, and if you're growing them in the north of England and the climate is warming, you might find that varieties such as Glorious Devon or Kent Blue will do better in the future than Lancashire Lad. We are losing older and tougher varieties before we understand their adaptation to climate change.
    Cancer treatment
    "Also, we don't know about the properties of all the varieties. For example, colour pigments have been discovered that combat illnesses: the red in tomatoes helps prevent hardening of the arteries, greens are used in cancer treatment. We have to make these connections and keep seeds available."
    Keeping these old varieties growing is what Steele's row of Carruther's Purple Podded is all about. She will not eat the peas but will collect them to be stored in the seed library, as will the other seed guardian volunteers growing their peas, beans, kale, lettuce, tomatoes, turnips and radishes, so that they can be distributed to a growing number of gardeners.
    "I do it for the fun of learning about these old varieties and about how to be self-sufficient," Steele says. "The biodiversity aspect is very important. The Irish potato famine happened because there was no genetic diversity in the crop, so when disease struck, there was no resistance. In Peru, farmers mix lots of potato varieties in the same field as insurance against disease. Also, having heritage seeds in living form enables the plants to evolve in new conditions. In 20 to 30 years' time, there will be a different climate and we need varieties that can cope with that."

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