A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
PAPGREN coordination and support
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
Interested in GIS?
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Posted 2:12 PM by Tevita
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)
· 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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