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, January 29, 2008

    PNG to implement ‘HORTIVAR’ database/Taun - a potential export earner for PNG

    Papua New Guinea will now join 83 other countries in implementing a performance database for cultivars of horticultural crops. The online database, known as HORTIVAR, was developed and launched recently by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). Research and development organisations dealing with fruits, vegetables, roots and tubers, ornamentals, mushrooms, herbs and condiments will be invited to participate in entering datasets of various horticultural crops into the database.

    The National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) will be the host institution in PNG to facilitate this exercise, which begins with a series of training workshops for participating organisations starting in February 2008.

    During an awareness seminar at the NARI Head Office in Lae on January 22, 2008, Project Coordinator Mark Tinah said HORTIVAR is a database or information system on performances of horticulture cultivars in relation to environmental conditions and crop cultivation practices.

    Mr Tinah said: “This resource is a tool for knowledge management, which serves as a standard methodology for data collection and record keeping,” adding that it is also a powerful search engine for easy retrieval and comparison of information, a standard template for educational purposes, and a gateway to horticulture knowledge.

    Participants at the seminar were also told that HORTIVAR has been conceived to serve as a tool for safeguarding information on the field performances of horticulture cultivars in relation to, among other things, their resistance to pests and diseases, market requirements and consumer preferences.

    Many National Horticulture Research Stations all over the world have carried out a large number of field trials to assess the performance of horticulture cultivars in different agro-climatic environments and applying different cultivation practices. This wealth of information is however not easily accessible because it is stored in different libraries. Furthermore the methodology applied for data recording varies from country to country and sometimes even within the country from one institution to another.

    In a bid to store and easily retrieve information data published in technical documents or recorded in field experiments, FAO established the database as part of the World Agriculture Information Centre (WAICENT).

    Data registered in the database are “site specific” and therefore the database is geo-referenced and in future can serve for Geographical Information System applications.

    Mr Tinah said the training workshops will be conducted throughout PNG covering all agro-regions. Scientists from NARI and other line departments in the agriculture sector will be invited to participate and contribute information on studies or field observations on horticultural crops. The first workshop will be conducted in Lae next month.

    At present this wealth of information database is accessible through the internet on website: http: www.fao.org/hortivar

    Taun - a potential export earner for PNG

    A Papua New Guinea indigenous tree fruit, locally named “taun” or “ton”, has the potential to become a lucrative export earner for the country if it is domesticated and commercialised. Research is currently underway at the Lowlands Agricultural Experiment Station of the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) at Keravat to successfully clone and propagate short, early-bearing and high-quality fruit-yielding trees to serve this purpose.

    Taun, scientifically known as Pometia pinnata, is a large tree up to 45m tall. It grows naturally in forests throughout the PNG lowlands. While the hard timber is widely used for buildings and as firewood, its fruit is a good source of food. With over eight different varieties, PNG has by far the highest diversity of taun in the Asia-Pacific region which, if cultivated and processed, can generate a healthy income as an exported product.

    NARI Agronomist Mathew Poienou, who is working with the fruit, said at present taun is only being used in the region as a timber commodity. However Mr Poienou said its fruit is also of value and NARI is currently working on domesticating and commercialising taun as part of the Institute’s drive to develop indigenous PNG nut and fruit trees as alternative export-viable crops.

    The tree fruit’s domestication will require the identification and collection of best varieties of which seedlings or cuttings would be used for cloning and desired clones propagated and distributed to farmers. In the last few years, taun fruits have been collected from selected trees and evaluated for quality characterisation such as fruit size, texture and taste.

    When presenting his Masters thesis titled “Domestication of Taun in PNG” at the University of Queensland last year, Mr Poienou pointed out that not much was known about the propagation of existing taun species. But NARI has identified grafting and cuttings as two possible methods of propagation.

    Research is yet to determine which taun variety or varieties will produce the best clones. Mr Poienou said NARI is the first institution to attempt the propagation of taun, stressing that the results achieved could also be applied to other potential income-generating fruit and nut trees.

    Taun grows in lowlands and lower montane forests, and from the coast to 700m above sea level. The tree fruit is commonly found in New Ireland, East New Britain, West New Britain, Manus, North Solomons, East Sepik and other provinces in the lowlands.

    Lae Rotary donates vegetable seeds for Oro Province

    The Rotary Club of Huon Gulf in Lae supplied vegetable seeds at the value of over K5000 to flood affected rural communities in the disaster strike Oro Province. The National Agricultural Reserach Institute (NARI) purchased the seeds on behalf of the club early this month from Farmsett Ltd in Lae and will now delivery them to the Provincial Department of Agriculture and Livestock in Oro for distribution through its site network.

    The seeds were of fast growing and suitable vegetables such as pumpkin, watermelon, cucumber, eggplant, Chinese cabbage, tomato and bean.

    President of Rotary Club of Huon Gulf, Graeme Paul, said the club voted to fund for seed purchases after a club member, Dr Workneh Ayalew, reported on the serious need to provide a means of sustenance to the many people who have lost their food gardens and crops. Mr Paul said based on Dr Ayalew’s assessment after visiting the province, the Huon Gulf Club decided to provide the seeds, “which cost the Club many thousands of kina but in the hope that our Rotary fund raising will be able to provide relief and comfort to the people of Oro.” He said the seeds would assist affected communities revive their home gardens and find comfort.

    This community service is expected to directly support up to 1000 rural communities who will receive a different combination of varieties of vegetable seeds. These direct beneficiaries would further assist other community members after one harvest season by providing them similar seeds.

    Oro Province was hit by Cyclone Guba and subsequent heavy rains in late November, 2007. According to a rapid assessment done by NARI in early December, 2007, damages of food gardens and losses of food crops and livestock species were reported from over 200 villages from almost the entire province. At least 153 people were confirmed dead and another 224 were missing. Damages occurred in the form of flash floods, land slides, massive mud flooding and submersion of gardens and villages under water and mud floods. The main food crops damaged included sweet potato, taro, yam, banana, cassava, vegetables and sago. Other crops such as coconuts, betenut and coffee were also destroyed. Livestock species lost to floods were village chicken and pigs with fish stocks and other marine resources.

    Dr Workneh, who is employed by NARI, said planting materials for sweet potato, corn, taro, yam, cassava, rice, pumpkins and local vegetables were urgently needed by many communities. He said communities have also expressed interest for common livestock species like chicken and pig.

    NARI delivered some planting materials (taro, cassava, yam, sweet potato, corn) from its Bubia and Laloki stations to Popondetta during the assessment period. The Oil Palm Institute Corporation, Higaturu Oil Palm Pvt Limited and Anglican Church were to propagate these materials.

    NARI is also preparing local seeds collected from local communities around Morobe and

    Madang, mainly along the main Highway, to be delivered to Oro. These are seeds of pimpkin, cucumber and corn.

    ‘RITA technology’ to speed up crop improvement

    Papua New Guinea’s crop improvement initiatives through biotechnology move a step forward with capacity building in the use of a new methodology for crop propagation – RITA technology. This follows a two months training of biotech specialists, Rati Irikati of Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) and Robert Plak of National Agricultural Reserach Institute (NARI) in Montpellier, France, from September to November 2007. Both participants work at the Aiyura Tissue Culture Laboratory, which is jointly operated by their employers.

    The training was focused on the use of the RITA technology and mass propagation of crop plants with main emphasis on somatic embryogenesis of coffee and microtuber production of potato. It was made possible through funding support from the European Union, the France Government, CIC and NARI.

    Mr Plak said they had hands-on-training on the use of the RITA technology and learnt the best practices in media preparation, culture initiation, mass propagation using RITA and transfer to screen house. The following areas were covered during the training.

    · Preparation of stock solution

    · Explant selection, surface sterilisation and initiation

    · Culture media preparation

    · Culturing and transfer (induction, expression, cell suspension, regeneration in Rita)

    · Acclimatisation

    · Installation of RITA, fitting its parts and use

    RITA stands for Rècipient à Immersion Temporaire Automatique in French, which means Receiver of Temporary Automatic Immersion System.

    CIC Experimentalist, Mr Irikai, who is attached with CIC’s Research & Grower Services Division at Aiyura said the rita technique is useful to PNG’s coffee industry.

    The technology is appropriate for utilising hybrid coffee with superior qualities that can be multiplied, especially for Arabica and Robusta species for the Highlands and Lowlands respectively. It is expected that results of RITA will have direct impacts on smallholder coffee farmers by making available elite planting materials or selections in a timely manner with improved quality and production. These plants will be disease free at establishment.

    Mr Plak, who is also the Tissue Culture Lab Manager said for tree crops like coffee and other fruits and nuts which are considered difficult to mass propagate using other means of plant tissue culture techniques, somatic embryogenesis would be the way to go provided somaclonal variations and other genetic aberrations are kept to a minimum, mainly in large scale production systems.

    Rita technology provides added benefits, including less contamination, reduced labour and less costly, improved nutrition and reduction of tissue verification to name a few.

    CIC: Coffee has been a difficult crop to micropropagate using the meristem culture technique. Now with somatic embryogenesis using the Rita technology, it can be mass propagated in huge numbers, though it will take at least a year to start getting into the production of plantlets and continue thereafter.

    NARI: Rita technology will assist is mass propagation of crops as well as advanced research in plant tissue culture studies. Other fruit and nut trees that are considered hard to micropropagate can be mass propagated using Rita by way of somatic embryogenesis. This provides a good avenue for doing large-scale research with trees of similar age a

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    Sunday, January 27, 2008

    CGIAR Centers Send Seeds to Svalvard Vault

    From : CGIAR

    More than 200,000 crop varieties from Asia, Africa and Latin America, drawn from collections maintained by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), will be sent to the Svalvard Global Seed Vault (SGSV) in Norway. SGSV is a facility constructed on a mountain deep in the Arctic permafrost capable of preserving the vitality of samples for thousands of years. Svalvard will be the depository of seeds of different food crops and agroforestry plants from all over the world. It is intended to ensure that seeds will be available for securing food supplies should a manmade or natural disaster threatens genebanks or agricultural systems.
    "The CGIAR collections are the 'crown jewels' of international agriculture," said Cary Fowler, Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which will cover the costs of preparing, packaging and transporting CGIAR seeds to the Arctic. "They include the world's largest and most diverse collections of rice, wheat, maize and beans. Many traditional landraces of these crops would have been lost had they not been collected and stored in the genebanks."
    The first installment will contain collection duplicates from research institutions like the International Potato Center (CIP), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), among other CG centers.

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    Eating As If the Climate Mattered
    By Bruce Friedrich, AlterNet
    Posted on January 23, 2008, Printed on January 24, 2008

    Last week in our nation's capital, the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) held a climate change conference focused on solutions to the problem of human-induced climate change. And in Paris the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is sharing the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, held a press conference to discuss to discuss "the importance of lifestyle choices" in combating global warming.
    Notably, all food at the NCSE conference was vegan, and there were table-top brochures with quotes from the U.N. report on the meat industry, discussed more below. And the IPCC head, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri declared, as the AFP sums it up, "Don't eat meat, ride a bike, and be a frugal shopper."
    The New York Times, also, seems to be jumping on the anti-consumption bandwagon. First they ran an editorial on New Year's Day stating that global warming is "the overriding environmental issue of these times" and that Americans are "going to have to change [our] lifestyles..." The next day, they ran a superb opinion piece by Professor Jared Diamond about the fact that those of us in the developed world consume 32 times as many resources as people in the developing world and 11 times as much as China.
    Diamond ends optimistically, stating that "whether we get there willingly or not, we shall soon have lower consumption rates, because our present rates are unsustainable."
    It is reasonable for all of us to review our lives and to ask where we can cut down on our consumption-because it's necessary, and because living according to our values is what people of integrity do.
    Last November, United Nations environmental researchers released a report that everyone who cares about the environment should review. Called "Livestock's Long Shadow," this 408-page thoroughly researched scientific report indicts the consumption of chickens, pigs, and other meats, concluding that the meat industry is "one of the ... most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global" and that eating meat contributes to "problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity."
    The environmental problems of meat fill books, but the intuitive argument can be put more succinctly into two points:
    A 135-pound woman will burn off at least 1,200 calories a day even if she never gets out of bed. She uses most of what she consumes simply to power her body. Similarly, it requires exponentially more resources to eat chickens, pigs, and other animals, because most of what we feed to them is required to keep them alive, and much of the rest is turned into bones and other bits we don't eat; only a fraction of those crops is turned into meat. So you have to grow all the crops required to raise the animals to eat the animals, which is vastly wasteful relative to eating the crops directly.
    It also requires many extra stages of polluting and energy-intensive production to get chicken, pork, and other meats to the table, including feed mills, factory farms, and slaughterhouses, all of which are not used in the production of vegetarian foods. And then there are the additional stages of gas-guzzling, pollution-spewing transportation of moving crops, feed, animals, and meat-relative to simply growing the crops and processing them into vegetarian foods.
    So when the U.N. added it all up, what they found is that eating chickens, pigs, and other animals contributes to "problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity," and that meat-eating is "one of the ... most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global."
    And on the issue of global warming, the issue the New York Times deems critical enough to demand that we "change [our] lifestyles" and for which Al Gore and the IPCC received the Nobel peace prize, the United Nations' scientists conclude that eating animals causes 40 percent more global warming than all planes, cars, trucks, and other forms of transport combined, which is why the Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook says that "refusing meat" is "the single most effective thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint" [emphasis in original].
    There is a lot of important attention paid to population, and that's a critical issue too, but if we're consuming 11 times as much as people in China and 32 times as much as people in the third world, then it's not just about population; it's also about consumption.
    NCSE, IPPC, and the U.N. deserve accolades for calling on people to stop supporting the inefficient, fossil fuel intensive, and polluting meat industry. The head of the IPCC, who received the Nobel Prize with Mr. Gore and who held last week's press conference in Paris, puts his money where his mouth is: He's a vegetarian.
    The NCSE's all-vegan 3,000-person conference last week, also, sends positive signal that other environmentalists would be wise to listen to. Thus far, among the large environmental organizations only Greenpeace ensures that all official functions are vegetarian. Other environmental groups should follow suit.
    It's empowering really, when you think about it: By choosing vegetarian foods, we're making compassionate choices that are good for our bodies, and we're living our environmental values at every meal.
    Find out more at www.GoVeg.com/eco, and find recipe tips, meal plans, and more at www.VegCooking.com.
    Bruce Friedrich is vice president for campaigns at PETA. He has been a progressive activist for more than 20 years.
    © 2008 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
    View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/74605

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    Agricultural rehabilitation needed in Oro disaster zone / World Bank targets agricultural development in PNG

    From : Didinet

    Oro Province needs a speedy rehabilitation of agricultural activities to recover food gardens and livestock species for rural communities affected by Cyclone Guba and subsequent heavy rains in late November. A report by the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) indicated that there was significant loss of sources of planting materials of food crops in areas where damages have been extensive and villages abandoned. And the need to put in place medium and long term rehabilitation programmes was eminent and NARI was keen to participate with its expertise.

    The report stems from a rapid assessment requested by the National Disaster Centre which was to verify the level of damage caused to smallholder agriculture and needs for rehabilitation. A team of NARI scientists, led by Dr Workneh Ayalew, conducted this survey from December 3-5. According to the report, deaths, damages and losses were reported from over 200 villages from almost all LLGs of the province. At least 153 people were confirmed dead and another 224 were missing. Damages occurred in the form of flash floods, land slides, massive mud flooding and submersion of gardens and villages under water and mud floods.

    The main food crops damaged included sweet potato, taro, yam, banana, cassava, vegetables and sago. Other crops such as coconuts, betenut and coffee were also destroyed. Livestock species lost to floods were village chicken and pigs with fish stocks and other marine resources.

    Dr Workneh said planting materials for sweet potato, corn, taro, yam, cassava, rice, pumpkins and local vegetables were urgently needed by many communities. He said communities have also expressed interest for common livestock species like chicken and pig.

    NARI has also delivered some planting materials (taro, cassava, yam, sweet potato, corn) from its Bubia and Laloki stations. The Oil Palm Institute Corporation, Higaturu Oil Palm Pvt Limited and Anglican Church have initiated propagation of these materials.

    Dr Workneh said provided sufficient funding is available, NARI can provide technical supervision and training on both short-term and longer-term rehabilitation activities. He also said the Institute has the expertise to support agricultural rehabilitation effort in the areas of natural resource management (e.g. soils, water, genetic resources), customised training in improved agricultural practices and impact assessment. He added that with collaboration and networking with authorities and the community, NARI can provide the essential planting materials and technical guidance for the revival of food gardens in affected areas.

    World Bank targets agricultural development in PNG

    World Bank is making another move to support agricultural development in Papua New Guinea in a big way. This time more focus is on building partnerships between public and private sector institutions and organisations in the country which are directly involved in agriculture.

    A group of representatives from World Bank and its subsidiary, International Finance Corporation, who visited the National Agricultural Research Institution (NARI) near Lae revealed this on December 7. The visit was part of a national consultation World Bank conducted with key research institutions, government departments, commodity boards, exporters and representatives from the private sector. This was to identify potentials and challenges confronted by the sector and to see where and how the Bank can support with appropriate programmes.
    Sydney based representative Marianne Grosclaude said: “Our focus is we would like to see how the public sector could better support the private sector investments in agriculture.”
    Ms Grosclaude, who is the World Bank Country Sector Coordinator for Rural Development (Pacific), said their interest in NARI was to see what the Institute sees as main potentials and challenges in agricultural development and how it can contribute to building partnerships with the public and the private sector.
    “We would like to know what NARI’s role could be, if we are talking about facilitating and strengthening these kinds of partnerships where you have private sector investing in one area and public sector coming up with complementary investments in research”.

    In a preview, NARI Director General Dr Raghunath Ghodake stressed the importance of investment in PNG with the scope and importance of science, research and technology in PNG agricultural development, and potentials and challenges. Also presented were disaster preparedness strategies on climate change and El Nino by NARI scientist Dr John Barley.
    Ms Grosclaude said information collected would also assist them to use these partnerships in making sure that results of research are best disseminated in PNG.

    Other organisations visited included the Department of Agriculture and Livestock, Rural Industries Council, Spice Board, Cocoa Board, PNG Growers Association, Coffee Industry Corporation, Coffee Exporters, Fresh Produce Development Agency, Cocoa Exporters and the private sector.

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    Monday, January 07, 2008

    Pacific Biodiversity News

    From : Pacifc Biodiversity Information Forum

    Conference Success in Alotau!

    The 8th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas, took place from 22–26 October 2007, in Alotau, Papua New Guinea. The Conference was a key regional meeting of government agencies, NGOs, community based organizations, and donor bodies to
    discuss and develop a joint vision for conservation in the Pacific islands. The conference drew in nearly 400 participants as the residents of Milne Bay Province rolled out the red carpet for this important and historic conference event. Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare officially closed the meeting with words of encouragement and a challenge to appreciate the real value of
    oceans. The Republic of Marshall Islands will be hosting the 9th Pacific Islands Conference
    on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas in 2012. This years conference proceedings are scheduled to be released in February 2008.

    Action Strategy for Nature

    Conservation 2008-2012 The Action Strategy for Nature Conservation in the Pacific Islands (2003–2007) is the Pacific’s overarching framework for biodiversity conservation. The Action
    Strategy provides a broad framework for conservation in the Pacific involving partnerships
    between conservationists and governments, the private sector, and civil society. During the five days of deliberations at the Nature Conservation Conference in Alotau, the Action Strategy was
    significantly revised for the next 5 year term. While the previous mission, vision and goals will remain the same, the 18 objectives and 77 targets have been replaced by 4 comprehensive objectives. A subtitle has also been added “Empowering local people, communities and Pacific institutions” to emphasize the overarching foundation of the Action Strategy. Implementation
    of the strategy is the responsibility of Pacific island countries and territories with the first phase of implementation targets needing to be set by governments, NGOs and others implementing
    the Strategy. The Action Strategy will be presented to the SPREP annual governing council meeting in 2008.

    International Year of theReef 2008
    The ICRI International Year of the Reef 2008 is a worldwide campaign to raise awareness about the value and importance of coral reefs and threats to their sustainability, and to motivate people to take action to protect them. All individuals, corporations, schools, governments, and organizations are welcome and actively encouraged to participate in IYOR 2008. The Pacific has embraced the 2008 International Year of the Reef and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program is coordinating the Pacific Year of the Reef 2008 campaign as their successful 2007 Year of the Sea Turtle campaign draws to a close. The Pacific Ocean is home to over 75 percent of the World’s reefs that are now under threat. From 1968 to 2004, approximately 600 square miles of coral reef has disappeared each year. Since 1995, the rate of this disappearance has doubled.
    For more information go to http://www.sprep.org/.

    Taxonomic Expertise Database With technical support from PBIF,
    PACINET now offers a Taxonomic Human Resource Database. This database provides a list of people with taxonomic and identification experience in the Pacific, their speciality areas and contact information. PACINET, the Pacific regional LOOP of BioNET International, is working to encourage Pacific Island regional experts and those with parataxonomic or vernacular taxonomy and identification expertise and skills to register. PACINET and PBIF hope that this database will strengthen collaborative regional taxonomic human resource use and capacity building.

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    Tuesday, January 01, 2008

    New labels balance nutrition pros and cons, give each food a score

    From : San Francisco Chronicle

    Anyone who's ever spent 15 minutes in the bread aisle of a supermarket trying to find the healthiest loaf of whole wheat knows all too well the curse of the nutrition label. The federally mandated labels, chock-full of useful information, are notoriously difficult to understand. Even professional nutritionists admit to having a hard time using the information to make smart food purchases. And even when shoppers do understand the labels, who has time to compare five or six or more loaves of bread - all before moving to the cereal aisle? A group of researchers may have a solution. Sometime next year, the scientists will introduce a new labeling system that they say will help consumers easily identify the healthiest foods in a grocery store - every product will be rated on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 going to the most nutritious products.
    The labels - called the Overall Nutritional Quality Index, or ONQI, score - will show up on about 40,000 products in Raley's stores in the Bay Area over the summer. "I've been counseling patients for 20 years, and I've seen the problems they face with real-life nutrition decisions. You need a Ph.D. in chemistry to find something healthy at the grocery store," said David Katz, director of the Yale Griffin Prevention Research Center and developer of the rating system.
    Katz was part of a group of nutrition experts who met in 2003 under the direction of the U.S. secretary of health and human services to discuss ways to help consumers make better food choices. The panel never reached any formal conclusions, but Katz was inspired and left to form his own research group. With money from Yale's Griffin Hospital, he developed a new labeling system. In February, Topco Associates, a grocery distribution cooperative owned by independent grocers, joined Katz and offered to introduce the ONQI labels in stores belonging to its members. Topco grocers own about 13,000 stores nationwide, including Raley's. Katz's group isn't the only one developing a new labeling system, although it will be the first to launch one nationwide. Maine-based Hannaford Supermarkets, a chain of grocery stores, will begin licensing its labeling system, called Guiding Stars, to other chains sometime next year. The Nutrient Rich Foods Coalition, a group made up of food producers and manufacturers, is also developing labeling guidelines. At the same time, diet and nutrition experts are pressuring the federal government to create a single labeling system that would be used on every product at every store. Some nutritionists worry that multiple labeling systems will just befuddle consumers even more than they already are. Even now, between the federal nutrition labels, product marketing and brand names that promise health benefits, it's no wonder shoppers are frustrated and making poor choices, some nutrition experts say. "It's just going to be more confusing for the general public," said Jane Tien, a registered dietitian with California Pacific Medical Center. "I'm not saying that in the long run we shouldn't have one system. But I think the federal government needs to step up." Tien also noted that it's nearly impossible to develop a simple labeling system that would apply to every consumer. A person with heart disease would have very different nutritional needs than a family with small children or an older person with kidney problems. The concerns are not lost on Katz, who acknowledges that there are limitations to the ONQI system. Over time, he said, he'd like to create labels specifically for people with certain health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes. The goal of the ONQI system is to distill the nutrition information already available to consumers into a score that is simple and easy for shoppers to understand. As it stands, shoppers are swamped with packaging and advertisements that scream "low-fat," "fortified," "sugar-free" and dozens of other healthy promises. There are times when regular mayonnaise may actually be healthier than the low-calorie option, or the full-fat organic peanut butter is a better choice than the "light" name-brand product, Katz said, but figuring that out takes knowledge and time. The foods most in need of simple labeling, nutritionists say, are the "middle aisle" products - snacks, treats, and popular items like cereal and bread that supermarkets display in the busiest sections of stores.
    Shoppers can't really go wrong choosing between an apple and an orange (although, technically, oranges get the higher ONQI score). But the decisions are a lot less clear when Mom is trying to decide between Cheerios and Wheaties. (Cheerios win by a hair.) "If you're buying breakfast cereal you think is healthy for your kids, you have a right to know the truth," Katz said. "Even if you aren't eating healthy, you can choose to eat all the cheese doodles you want, but you deserve to know what it is nutritionally." Katz and his colleagues have assigned raw scores to about 20,000 foods. Those scores must now be assigned ratings, on the 1-100 scale, that will be useful to consumers. The ONQI rating system involves a complex algorithm that analyzes the nutritional makeup of a food item and then assigns a score that essentially divides the healthy elements - vitamins and minerals, for example - by the unhealthy ones, like fats and sugars.
    Fruit and vegetables have the highest scores because they have almost no unhealthy bits, while sugared cereals and candy bars that have very few nutritional benefits get particularly low scores. The score takes into consideration more than 30 nutrients, including several vitamins and minerals, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and bioflavonoids. Extra points are awarded or taken away for nutrients that have been proven especially healthy or unhealthy.
    For example, trans fats can lower the overall score of a product more than the presence of cholesterol, because fats have been more closely tied to heart disease. Foods that have been fortified with extra vitamins and minerals can get some credit, but not a lot - that way a fortified sugared cereal won't end up scoring as well as a banana. How well the new labels catch on with consumers, and with food manufacturers and distributors, remains to be seen. The labels almost definitely will appeal to manufacturers as another useful marketing tool - which could benefit consumers if it puts more truly healthy products on the market. "Every manufacturer we've spoken to is doing something to address the need for healthy products out there," said Jeff Posner, executive vice president of Topco Associates. "Those that are already in good shape view ONQI very positively, and those in the process of developing products see it as a great opportunity. And then there are those that are making health claims and not telling the whole story, and they have concerns."

    Online resource
    For a list of the raw scores for some foods, go to:
    Figuring out the most nutritious foods How the ONQI scoring system works
    -- Scientists determine the basic nutrient information of a food.
    -- Positive nutrients - such as vitamins, minerals and fiber - are divided by the number of calories to determine how nutrient-packed a food is. For example, a medium apple with 95 calories has more fiber than a medium orange with 60 calories, but the orange has more fiber per calorie so it scores better.
    -- Positive nutrients are weighted according to how beneficial they are. Fiber has been shown to prevent colon cancer, for example, so it gets more credit than zinc, which has been shown to help fight colds and boost the immune system.
    -- Negative nutrients such as fat, salt and sugar also are divided by the number of calories and weighted according to how bad they are.
    -- Fortified foods get some points, but not full credit, for the extra vitamins and minerals they contain.
    -- The total number for all positive nutrients is divided by the number for all negative nutrients. The resulting number is the raw score for a food.
    -- Researchers will take those raw scores and assign them numbers on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the healthiest.
    E-mail Erin Allday at eallday@sfchronicle.com.

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    From : Island Business

    Living in the SolomonsPatrick Pikacha Photographer and writer Mike McCoy lived in the Solomon islands for 26 years, from the late 60s to the mid-90s. His work is well known, both within the Solomons and internationally. In the 80s and 90s, McCoy was a regular contributor to ISLANDS BUSINESS. This latest book of his is a beautifully written and superbly photographed account of his many years as a Solomons resident.The foreword is written by Professor Tim Flannery, internationally renowned environmental scientist, best-selling author, and 2007 Australian of the Year. Flannery writes: “Mike McCoy lived in Solomon Islands for 26 years, and he has visited virtually every island of the group, consequently, very few people know this remote archipelago as well. Thankfully, as this book attests, he also ranks among the world’s great natural history photographers. His photographs of submarine life are as stunning as his land-based images, and very few photographers can achieve such empathetic images of indigenous peoples. Having worked with him in the Solomons, I think perhaps that’s because McCoy is known and loved throughout the islands, allowing him to view and photograph the Solomons people as true friends and compatriots.There are many islands and experiences portrayed in McCoy’s book; accounts that still captivate one’s imagination, and recall the romantic South Pacific of the long ago days of Conrad, Maugham and London. For such places do still exist in the Solomons and McCoy’s travels to such remote and isolated islands are brought to life in his book. For example, his account of his visit to tiny Anuta Island in the far-flung Eastern Outer Islands. Anuta is very rarely visited by outsiders, and little is known of the island (even by Solomon Islanders). Accounts such as this makes McCoy’s book and its images an invaluable treasure, not only as a pictorial masterpiece of the Solomons, but more importantly for what I believe will come to be a long respected photographic record of our history. The book begins with a series of personal essays of McCoy’s associations and interactions with the people and cultures of the Solomons, as well as with the diverse creatures—both below and above the water—that occupy this amazing archipelago. The photographs are separated into three categories: Reefs, Rainforests, and Islanders. The first section in this book covers the beautiful and pristine underwater world which the Solomon Islands is well known for. The second section of the book deals with rainforests and their amazing biodiversity. There are photographs of extremely rare giant native rats, endemic frogs and skinks, as well as sweeping aerial images of the emerald green forests that clothe these high oceanic islands. At a time when the Solomons is rapidly loosing its rainforests to logging and deforestation to make way for the planting of large tracts of palm oil, such awareness of the unique biodiversity of these islands becomes especially meaningful.The last section of the book portrays the people of the Solomons. There are many ethnic groups and cultures throughout these islands, and this is reflected in the more than 90 languages spoken here. McCoy’s photographs capture the many shades of Solomon Islanders: the Polynesians, Micronesians and Melanesians who call this vast archipelago home.As a resident naturalist in the Solomons I’ve not seen a photographic book as in-depth and which highlights the truly exceptional beauty of this island country as does McCoy’s title. With its 176 pages of magnificent photographs (many of which are historically significant), it is a highly recommended work and worthy of inclusion in the library of anyone with an interest in this beautiful corner of our planet.It is also worthy of note that Solomon Islands - A South Seas Journey is the first book of its kind - hardcover, glossy, coffee-table format - to be published in Solomon Islands.
    The publisher is Zipolo Habu Resort in Western Province, and they are to be congratulated for having the foresight to bring McCoy’s talents to an international audience. Written and Photographed by Michael McCoy Published by Zipolo Habu, Munda, 2006; ISBN 978 982 98011 1 1; 176pp, hard cover. Available from the Solomons’ distributor: Makcell Enterprises, PO Box 90, Gizo, Solomon Islands (ppurcell@solomon.com.sb) or from the USP Book Centre of the University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji. Sample pages can be viewed online at: www.goldendolphin.com/McCoyBk/McCoy01.htm

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    Pacific People Hard Hit by Climate Change

    From : UNDP

    [Suva, December 19] - UNDP’s Human Development Report seeks to add a new dimension
    to the global climate change debate – climate change will compound poverty and vulnerability. It is estimated that a rise in global temperature in excess of 2 degree centigrade will cause irreversible damage, and may well reverse recent gains in Human Development. The Human Development Report, Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World, estimates that the world will have to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by half by 2050, relative to 1990 levels, in order to avoid dangerous and irreversible climate change. This will require rich countries to cut emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050, with cuts of 30 per cent by 2020. Emissions from developing countries are expected to peak around 2020, and thereafter will need to effect reductions of 20 per cent by 2050. Since the Kyoto Protocol, such targets and their relation to economic growth have been hotly debated. When climate change will affect rainfall patterns, it is estimated that poorer nations will see a 15 percent decline in agricultural productivity. As these are countries where people eat what they grow, this will affect their nutritional status, economic resilience and the future of their children. UNDP not only calls for urgent international action to cut emissions and to ensure that these vulnerabilities are addressed, they also express unambiguous concerns with the long term global progress in human development and the Millennium Development Goals, which have not yet been achieved. Climate change may lead to a slow down if not a reversal of progress and it is estimated that the Pacific will be amongst the regions most strongly affected. Pacific people face the greatest risk of becoming poorer, getting displaced from their homes and regressing in their development as a result of climate change. While the Small Islands Developing States in the Pacific are amongst the lowest carbon emitters, they will be the first to suffer from climate change. In the next ten years if the average temperature were to increase beyond two degrees Celsius sea level rises will see a number of Pacific islands disappear from the face of the map, the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report 2007/2008 warns. The report that was launched by the United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Richard Dictus, in Suva today warns that climate change can result in annual damage costs of up to seven percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu. “Many coastal communities in the Pacific could be seriously affected by rising sea levels and flooding caused by global temperature increases of 3-4 degrees Celsius could result the permanent or temporary displacement of people living in low-lying areas,” said Mr. Dictus. Pacific Island Countries are already susceptible to a range of natural hazards such as cyclones, storm surges, droughts and flooding. Climate change will see extreme events happen both more frequently and more intensely. The Pacific is already experiencing the impact of more extreme events such as tropical cyclones and storm surges. Coupled with projected rates of sea-level rise and flooding, critical infrastructure such as airports, port facilities, roads, vital utilities such as power and water, coastal protection structures and tourism facilities as well as social services such as health and education are being exposed to increased risk.
    Some examples include:
    • More than 50% of Pacific islanders live within 1.5 km of the shoreline and are particularly exposed to accelerated coastal erosion, saline intrusion, coral reef bleaching and flooding.
    • In Fiji, half of the population lives within 60 kilometres of the shore with 90% of villages located on the coast. Sea level rise may threaten village livelihoods, and traditional settlement patterns, as people may have to move away from their customary land, to higher ground.
    • Many island people rely on fisheries as a source of food and income from coral reef and mangrove habitats that are threatened by warming ocean temperatures and sea level rise.
    • Tropical cyclones amplify the threat from sea-level rise to vital infrastructure in Pacific Island Countries. For example, a 0.5 m rise in sea level, combined with a 1- in-50 year cyclone would cause major damage to port facilities in Fiji and Samoa.
    • A high island such as Viti Levu could experience average annual economic losses
    from disruption to social services and infrastructure of $US23 to 52 million by
    2050, equivalent to 2 to 4% of Fiji’s GDP.
    A low group of islands, such as Tarawa atoll, could face average annual damages of $US8 to 16 million by 2050, as compared to a current gross domestic product (GDP) of $US47 million. Climate change has been recognized as one of the largest threats to development, this century. For the Pacific Island Countries, limited land size and resources, isolation and vulnerability to natural disasters exacerbate this threat. In the Pacific, carbon dioxide emission has annually changed from between 1990 to 2004 by 2.3% in Fiji, 0.1% in Papua New Guinea, 1.5% in Samoa, 0.6% in Solomon Islands, 3.7% in Tonga and 2.4% in Vanuatu. On the global scale, Pacific Islands are negligible polluters however they will be the first to suffer from the effects of climate change and need to put in place climate change adaptation strategies. “It is therefore very hard to accept that these will be the same countries that will be so hard hit if the world does not significantly cuts the emission of greenhouse gases,” said Mr. Dictus. “The proof that climate change is happening as we speak is based now on hard scientific evidence. We can observe the changes ourselves and the consequences are inescapable. The world community needs to take action and the UN agencies in the Pacific are committing themselves to provide support and assistance in any way they can,” he concluded. Meanwhile, the Human development Index ranking of Pacific Islands countries that measures the development in countries broadly through progress in health, wealth and knowledge, remains relatively unchanged for 2007. The report ranks the following Pacific Islands Countries as follows: Tonga 55 (unchanged when compared to 2006), Fiji 92, Samoa 77 (both have moved up by two ranks), Solomon Islands 129, Vanuatu (both moved up by one rank) and Papua New Guinea 145, representing an upward movement of six ranks. [Ends]

    ABOUT THIS REPORT: The Human Development Report continues to frame debates on some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity. It is an independent report commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Kevin Watkins is the Lead Author of the 2007/2008 report, which includes special contributions from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President Luiz Inácio
    Lula da Silva of Brazil, Mayor of the City of New York Michael R. Bloomberg, Advocate for Arctic climate change Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Chair of the World Commission on Sustainable Development and former Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town Desmond Tutu, and the Director of the Centre for Science and Environment Sunita Narain. The Report
    is translated into more than a dozen languages and launched in more than 100 countries annually. Further information can be found at http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2007-2008/. The 2007/2008 Human Development Report is published in English by Palgrave Macmillan.
    ABOUT UNDP: UNDP is the UN’s global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working with them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges. As they develop local capacity, they draw on the people of UNDP and our wide range of partners. There are three UNDP offices in the Pacific, based on Fiji, Samoa and Papua New Guinea as well as a regional Centre, the Pacific Centre, UNDP’s regional programme and knowledge centre in Suva, Fiji focused on Small Islands Developing States and serving 15 Pacific Island countries.
    For further information contact Alvin Chandra on 3312500 ext 708 or Shobhna Decloitre on 3300399
    ext 207.

    Shobhna Decloitre
    Media,Communications & Advocacy Associate
    UNDP Pacific Centre
    2rd Floor, YWCA Building
    Ratu Sukuna Park, Suva, Fiji Islands
    Tel.: +679 3300399 ext.207
    Fax: +679 3301976
    URL: http://regionalcentrepacific.undp.org.fj

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