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?
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Posted 9:48 PM by Tevita
THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
22 May 2007
Secretariat of the
Convention on Biological
FROM MR. AHMED DJOGHLAF, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY
Climate change is real. The United Nations lead scientific authority on climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its most recent report, prepared by 2,500 experts from 130 countries, has indicated that the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere is at a level not seen for some 650,000 years. The cause: human activities. Biodiversity loss is real. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the most authoritative statement on the health of the Earth’s ecosystems, prepared by 1,395 scientists from 95 countries, has demonstrated the negative impact of human activities on the natural functioning of the planet. As a result, the ability of the planet to provide the goods and services that we, and future generations, need for our well-being is seriously and perhaps irreversibly jeopardized. We are indeed experiencing the greatest wave of extinctions
since the disappearance of the dinosaurs. Extinction rates are rising by a factor of up to 1,000 above natural rates. Every hour, three species disappear. Every day, up to 150 species are lost. Every year, between 18,000 and 55,000 species become extinct. The cause: human activities. Climate change is one of the major driving forces behind the unprecedented loss of biodiversity. The second edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook, recently issued by the Secretariat of the Convention
on Biological Diversity, demonstrates that before the end of the century, species and ecosystems will struggle to keep pace with changes in temperature and rainfall and extinction rates will increase. This is already evident in the Arctic, the environmental “barometer” of our planet, where reduced sea-ice threatens
to lead to the disappearance of the iconic polar bear and other unique species. The consequences of climate change will be distributed unequally around the globe, but will affect the most vulnerable countries. Africa, which contributes the least to climate change, will be the first to suffer. Climate change has already
caused the level of Lake Victoria to drop by about 30%. Between 25 and 40 per cent of Africa’s unique species could be lost by 2085.
The relationship between biodiversity and climate change runs both ways. Climate change is an important driver of the loss of biodiversity. At the same time, the loss of biodiversity and the deterioration of natural habitats also contribute to climate change. It is said that every human being on Earth owes one mangroves will exacerbate climate change, biodiversity loss and their impacts.
Maintaining biodiversity will make ecosystems resilient in the face of a changing climate. Forests and peatlands represent an important storage place for carbon dioxide. Intact mangroves are an important protection against sea-level rise. A variety of crops and livestock are important resources against changes to the rhythm of the seasons. Climate change is indeed an energy and a security issue but is also an environmental issue. Biodiversity loss is an environmental issue but it is also an economic, financial, cultural, ethical as well as a security issue. Coinciding with the Polar Year, this year’s celebration by the international community of
the International Day for Biological Diversity, on 22 May, offers a unique opportunity to acknowledge that climate change and biodiversity are two faces of the same coin of life. Addressing both requires the mutually supportive implementation of the Rio conventions for the benefit of life on Earth. We in the Secretariat of the Convention on life on Earth shall spare no effort to achieve such a strategic objective.
We wish all the countries of the world and their people a successful and memorable celebration
Posted 4:20 PM by Tevita
Food dependency grows
From : Fiji Times
Thursday, May 22, 2008
FIJI continues to remain highly dependent on imported staple food, according to the latest Market Watch survey.
The weekly information on agricultural prices compiled by the Primary Industries Ministry and Information shows that last year, 32,000 tonnes of rice valued at $24.5million were imported.
These were consistently cheaper in price than domestic produce.
Accordingly to Market Watch, the price of rice has jumped over the past few months from about $1.25 a kilogram to $1.48 in the Suva area.
It's expected the price will continue to rise over the year and possibly beyond.
Likewise potatoes, cassava, taro, and flour have all been subjected to significant price jumps.
The survey shows that due to the sheer scale of production among the world's largest producers, production costs were lower than those faced among Fiji's producers.
Fiji is also 100 per cent dependent on wheat and maize. Imports in 2007 were 79,000 tonnes and 83 tonnes respectively.
"Unless Fiji's population is able to substitute these products for locally-available produce, Fiji will continue to remain highly dependent on imports and subsequent fluctuations in world prices," according to Market Watch.
Although Fiji does not grow potatoes, other root crops such as cassava, taro and yam all grow successfully, to the extent that taro is now a thriving export product.
Cassava and taro are entering the processed food industry as chips.
"Regretfully, these products are experiencing price increases in the face of rising costs of transportation, farm inputs, inflation, and increased costs of living.
"Under these circumstances, it is important the Government takes a lead role in developing the agricultural sector."
Market Watch said local staple foods are cheaper than cereals if one compares the costs with weight, and that both taro and cassava have greater nutritional value than rice.
More root crops sold
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
MARKET vendors have noticed a shift in buying habits which they think might be the effect of rising prices of manufactured and processed foods.
Vendors at the Suva and Raiwaqa markets yesterday said they noticed that all ethnic groups were now buying more root crops.
Raiwaqa Market vendor Anaseini Ledua said the demand for root crops like cassava was much higher than that for green vegetables. Ms Ledua buys vegetables off farmers from Tailevu, Naitasiri and Sigatoka.
"I go to the Suva Market early in the morning and buy from the farmers who come and sell to the vendors at the Suva Market," she said.
Ms Ledua buys one or two bags of cassava at $25-$30. "Recently root crops are in demand," she said.
Vendor Uday Singh, from Sakoca, in Nausori, also said the demand for root crops surpassed that for vegetables.
He said all ethnic groups now bought root crops.
Mr Singh said the demand for root crops might be the result of the recent increases in the prices of flour and rice.
Posted 4:16 PM by Tevita
People move inland to flee rising sea level
From : PACNEWS
PNG – GLOBAL WARMING : THE NATIONAL PACNEWS 2: Wed 21 May 2008
People move inland to flee rising sea level
21 MAY 2008 PORT MORESBY (Pacnews) ----- Elders in the Duke of York Islands in East New Britain of Papua New Guinea
(PNG) have expressed concern over global warming which is causing most of their islands to disappear slowly, reports The National.
The islands have 21 wards and some, during the past five to 10 years, have been subjected to rise in sea level, forcing the people to be relocated inland.
At the Nakukur ward, about 60 families that used to live near the beach, had packed up and moved inland 2 to 3 years ago.
Nakukur elders Judas Kalasiel, 70, Topin Temeren, 62, and Malari Uding, 53, said it was a big worry for them as elders even though today’s young generation was not realising this.
They said there had been no local authority or stakeholder who had come out to tell the islanders what they were planning to help them.
“Now we can see the reef from the beach and our fishing grounds have since stretched far,” they said.
At the Kumaina ward, village leader Samuel Tobainga said about 60 families had moved inland.
Samuel Oris, 70, and Udia Tomatuai, 89, both from Urakukur, said 10 years ago the beach was different from what it is now as the sea was moving in on them, forcing people to move back to land areas where they used to do gardening.
At Kabatirai, people have been relocated at the Milamila Catholic parish.
At Urkuk, people cannot move inland and are buying land elsewhere.
People at all these wards are now planting trees at the beachside but none has taken initiatives to build seawalls……..PNS (ENDS)
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Posted 3:06 PM by Tevita
Fighting Fusarium in Asia-Pacific
- ACIAR project update
From : RISBAP
The ACIAR-funded project, called “Mitigating the threat of banana Fusarium
wilt: Understanding the agro-ecological distribution of pathogenic forms and
developing disease management strategies”, continues to progress as it conducts survey and collection in Papua New Guinea, VCG analysis and molecular characterization, virulence-host resistance study, and establishment of on-farm demo-trials of disease management strategies. Survey and Collection in PNG. To date, survey and collection activities are being conducted in PNG. Survey teams included Jeff Daniells (Taxonomist), Pere Kokoa (Plant Pathologist), Birte Komolong (Plant Pathologist) and Janet Pafoa (Taxonomist). Survey was carried out between August to September 2007. A total of 27 samples from plants showing symptoms suspected to be of
Fusarium wilt were collected from different provinces : Morobe Province/ Markham Valley, Kainantu, North Solomon Province/ Buka and ENB. The limited samples collected reflected the very low level of plants showing “Fusarium wilt symptoms”. No fusarium wilt symptoms were observed in ENB province. These samples were processed and then sent to QDPI, Australia for pathogen verification and VCG analyses. Other remaining provinces were to be surveyed late last year but was postponed to first quarter of 2008. These include Sandaun Province, Western Province and Manus Province, important provinces bordering Indonesia. These provinces were identified based on previous reports of suspicious Fusarium wilt symptoms in some areas. VCG analysis and Molecular Characterization. A total of 111 pure
isolate-Foc samples from the Indonesian Tropical Fruits Research Institute
(ITFRURI) were sent to QDPI for VCG and DNA characterization. To date, 80 of
the 111 Indonesian isolates have been VCG tested. The rest have been analysed
for volatile production and have produced mutant sectors. These samples are
now ready for VCG testing. Based on the samples tested from different Indonesian provinces, majority of the positive results have been identified to belong to VCG 01213/16 (Tropical Race 4 – TR4). There are also positive results
for other VCGs in Indonesian provinces and potentially new VCG record for
Indonesia. The new records will be re-tested and re-confirmed, thus expanding
the knowledge of the nature and distribution of Foc VCGs in Indonesia.
A total of 27 samples from PNG for VCG testing were received by QDPI. No Foc pathogen was isolated from the 1st batch of 16 samples received from PNG. The 2nd batch of 11 samples are currently being tested. Virulence-host resistance study. A total of 25 varieties were selected for inoculation with various VCGs for virulence/host resistance test. Preliminary inoculation trial was done on 4 varieties namely: Ambon Kuning(AAA), Barangan (AAA), Kepok (ABB), and Rajasere (AAB). This is a screenhouse test that involves inoculating tissue culture plantlets, with selected VCGs. Then external as well as internal symptoms are quantified and recorded. A more complete inoculation studies on the 25 selected varieties are being established. On-farm disease management demo-trials of disease management strategies. A participatory planning workshop was conducted in the two sites on November 26 – 30, 2007. During the workshop, details of the methodology,
field set up, and control practices to be evaluated were discussed and agreed
upon. Planting materials were being prepared by ITFRURI. The establishment
of the the demonstration plots was scheduled between January to February
2008. Survey and listing of existing private laboratories that produce banana
tissue culture are being conducted in preparation for the implementation of
the banana tissue cultured meriplant delivery system in Indonesia. (For
more information contact Dr. A. Molina - Project Coordinator at email@example.com)
Posted 2:12 PM by Tevita
Chilling temperature destroys Southern China's bananas
From : Risbap Bulletin
As farmers and experts alike battle diseases that affect banana plantations across China, an unlikely enemy struck from nowhere: a ferocious weather condition that saw an unprecedented chilling rain and temperature destroying banana plantations in Southern China. It was a particularly serious blow to the Chinese banana industry, which just few years ago, was reported in the Asia Pulse News as one that would give the Philippines – ranked second in the world in terms of exports – a ran for its money. High hopes were directed to Chinese-grown banana to supply the local market and probably the export market. However, when the cold temperature started to descend upon southern China in early January this year, it brought home the message, that challenges for the industry go beyond pests and diseases. Or perhaps, this is already a warning about the destructive effects of climate change to agriculture?
The Chinese Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences (GDAAS) estimated the damage in the three provinces as that to have covered 70% of the production areas across the stretches of banana plantations in the provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi, and Fujian. This is huge considering that about 75% of the total 280,000-hectare banana
production in China is in these provinces. With bananas normally growing best in warm conditions, banana plantations were dealt with a huge blow with the temperature, which GDAAS reported to have reached as low as 0.5 degrees Celsius, at some places, averaging at 12 degrees from early January to mid-February, this year.
The Chinese government tried to cushion the ill-effects of the low-temperature by establishing rescue groups, providing food supply to affected farmers as well as visiting plantations to help and instruct farmers on how to start planting again. To minimize the effects of the cold weather on newly-planted tissue cultured banana
plants, farmers covered their plot with plastic films. These plastic films, GDAAS says, help minimize the low temperature damage and to allow them to harvest at
high-price market months. In some areas, affected plants were cut down to allow new
suckers to develop. The farmers also harvest on-time, and encourage the emergence of new suckers by cutting off unwanted suckers. Proper fertilization was also mentioned
as one that helped tide the plantations over the month-long lowtemperature.
Dr. Agustin Molina, regional coordinator for Bioversity International Commodities for Livelihood- Asia-Pacific , met with Dr. Yi Ganjun, director of GDAAS' Institute of Fruit Tree Research, during the early part of the year, and saw first hand some of the devastations in Guangdong and Guangxi provinces, including the mitigating measures that farmers undertook to rehabilitate the damaged banana crops. GDAAS mentioned that it was in 1999 when a similar weather condition struck China. (With reports from Dr. Yi Ganjun and Dr. Li Chunyu, GDAAS, China
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Posted 4:50 PM by Tevita
Linking Gaire To The Global Community
From : SPC
Wednesday: April 30, 2008
(Secretariat of the Pacific Community)
The community of Gaire, in the Central Province, Papua New Guinea is in a state of excitement. This rural community, located an hour's drive southeast of Port Moresby and home to about 2500 people, will be the first operational rural site for the Pacific Rural Internet Connectivity System (RICS.)
The Pacific RICS project is aimed at providing affordable high-speed Internet access and radio to rural and remote communities. It is undertaken within the Digital Strategy and defined by the Pacific Plan approved by the Forum leaders in Port Moresby in 2005.
Speaking on behalf of the idyllic coastal community, local Church leader Reverend Sisisa Maina said Gaire is a buzz of expectation as the people look forward to the official launch of the RICS, Saturday, May 3.
'The project was recently presented to us after our Sunday service by officials from Papua New Guinea Radiocommunications and Telecommunications Technical Authority (PANGTEL)and the Ministry of Communication and Information,' said Gaire church leader, Reverend Sisia Maina.
'They talked about the potential benefits that this Internet project will bring to the community and gave us a timetable for the installation and launch of the RICS project in the village. We felt very honoured and privileged to be the first community in Papua New Guinea to be chosen,especially when we heard that Gaire will be the first site in the region.'
'We're all looking forward to the launch this coming Saturday and to learning all about the opportunities it offers our community members, particularly our young children.'
Providing affordable and reliable communication technology is a challenge in many places in the region, even in some urban areas. The problem is worse in rural and remote areas, where more than 80 percent of the estimated 9.15 million Pacific Islanders live.
Dr Jimmie Rodgers, SPC Director-General, has been a strong advocate of the project since its inception. He says, 'The Pacific RICS project can unlock the socio-economic development potential of our region.'
In a message to the first subregional RICS workshop in February this year, Greg Urwin, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, stressed to regional telecommunication regulators that they were not issuing a license to merely operate a VSAT (very small aperture terminal) station; rather they were extending a lifeline to rural and remote communities.
The Gaire project launch will showcase a live demonstration of the low-cost, reliable, affordable and easy-to-use SkyEdge technologies adopted for Pacific RICS. The project is coordinated by local agencies including the Ministry for Communication and Information, PANGTEL and the State owned Telikom PNG limited as the general carrier.
Monday, May 05, 2008
Posted 10:11 PM by Tevita
Hollow Victory: Enola Bean Patent Smashed At Last (Maybe)
From : ETC Group
The infamous Enola bean patent, first denounced by ETC Group eight years ago as a textbook case of biopiracy, was struck down yesterday (April 29, 2008) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in Washington, D.C. One of the most controversial plant patents in history, the effort to defeat it was unprecedented because it involved the United Nations and international plant breeding institutes.
"Many people are calling the PTO's decision to reject the Enola bean patent a victory, but we're inclined to call it a travesty," said Hope Shand of ETC Group. "In essence, the U.S. patent system allowed the owner of a flagrantly unjust patent to legally monopolize markets and destroy competition - for close to half the 20-year patent term. And even now the patent owner could still appeal through the federal court system!"
"Worse still, Mexican and U.S. farmers who suffered damages as a result of this unjust monopoly will never be compensated for their losses. Patent law has no mechanism to compensate farmers and indigenous peoples who are victimized by predatory patent abuses,"
adds Silvia Ribeiro of ETC Group's office in Mexico City.
According to ETC Group, the eight-year patent challenge is, above all, an indictment of the patent system's ability to "correct" patent abuses. The request for re-examination of the patent was filed in December 2000. The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office declared its preliminary rejection of the patent three years later. Using a series of bureaucratic delays and diversions, the patent owner was allowed to legally extend his exclusive monopoly on a Mexican bean variety for over 8 years.
"We've seen protracted patent battles before. It was just last year that the European Patent Office struck down Monsanto's species-wide patent on all genetically modified soybeans - but it took an appeal and 13 years," said Kathy Jo Wetter of ETC Group. "The patent system is broken on both sides of the Atlantic," she adds.
The Enola bean patent holds a special place in the "biopiracy hall of shame" because the patented yellow bean was proven to be genetically identical to an existing Mexican bean variety.(1) That's not surprising, because the patent owner, Larry Proctor, first got his hands on the yellow bean when he bought a bag of beans in Mexico.
After securing his monopoly patent, Proctor accused Mexican farmers of infringing the patent (U.S. patent number 5,894,079) by selling yellow beans in the U.S. As a result, shipments of yellow beans from Mexico were stopped at the U.S./Mexican border, and Mexican farmers lost lucrative markets. In 2001 Proctor filed lawsuits against 16 small bean seed companies and farmers in the U.S., again charging patent infringement.
Intergovernmental Patent Challenge
In January 2000 ETC Group (then as RAFI) denounced the Enola bean patent as "Mexican bean biopiracy" and demanded that the patent be legally challenged and revoked. ETC Group requested that the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) investigate the patent as a violation of the CGIAR's 1994 Trust agreement that obliges them to keep designated crop germplasm in the public domain and off-limits to intellectual property claims.
Agreeing with ETC Group, the Colombia-based International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT, a CGIAR center), with support from FAO, filed an official challenge of the predatory Enola bean patent in Washington, D.C. "We commend CIAT and FAO for taking this action, and for sticking with the 8-year patent challenge," said Pat Mooney of ETC Group. "Joachim Voss, CIAT's former director general, deserves special recognition for leading the patent challenge," notes Mooney.
ETC Group warns that egregious monopoly patent claims on seeds, genes and traits are by no means a thing of the past. In the midst of a deepening world food crisis, with climate chaos as the backdrop - predatory patenting is a greater threat than ever. Please stay tuned.
The Enola Bean Patent Reexamination Saga
13 April 1999: Larry Proctor wins US Patent No. 5,894,079, "field bean cultivar named enola"
15 January 2000: ETC Group denounces the enola bean patent as technically invalid and morally unacceptable http://www.etcgroup.org/article.asp?newsid=31
20 December 2000: Request for Reexamination of US patent 5,894,079 (issued 13 April 1999) filed by CIAT http://www.etcgroup.org/article.asp?newsid=96
30 November 2001: Proctor sues 16 small bean seed companies and farmers in Colorado for infringing his patent http://www.etcgroup.org/article.asp?newsid=282
02 December 2003: USPTO's reexamination results in "Non Final"
Rejection of Patent
02 June 2004: Proctor submits 400+ page amendment to "Non Final"
14 April 2005: USPTO issues "Final Rejection" of Patent
14 October 2005: Proctor submits Request for Continued Examination of Patent
21 December 2005: and issues another "Final Rejection" of Patent http://www.etcgroup.org/en/materials/publications.html?pub_id=41
29 April 2008: USPTO's Board of Patent Appeals affirms the patent examiner's decision regarding the rejection of all standing claims in the Patent ????? - Will Larry Proctor appeal through the U.S. Federal Court system?
For more information:
Hope Shand and Kathy Jo Wetter, ETC Group (USA) firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
+1 919 960-5767 (office)
Silvia Ribeiro, ETC Group (Mexico) firstname.lastname@example.org
+52 5555 6326 64
Pat Mooney, ETC Group (Ottawa, Canada) email@example.com
+1 613 241-2267
1) L. Pallottini, J. Kami, G. Barcaccia, P. Gepts, The Genetic Identity of a Patented Yellow Bean, a paper presented at the American Society of Agronomy Annual Meeting, Denver, November 2-5, 2003. The official results were published in the May/June 2004 issue of Crop Science, Pallottini et al., "The Genetic Anatomy of a Patented Yellow Bean," Crop Science, 44:968-977 (2004).
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Posted 4:35 PM by Tevita
A place for everything
From : Nature
Nature 453, 2 (1 May 2008) | doi:10.1038/453002a; Published online 30 April 2008
A place for everything
More researchers must record the latitude and longitude of their data.
Who, what, where and when? Among the basic elements of scientific record-keeping, too often the 'where?' gets neglected. Now advances in satellite-positioning technology, online databases and geographical information systems offer opportunities to make good that neglect, and to add a much-needed spatial dimension to many types of biological research. Location data are essential for those modelling species' responses to climate change, or the spread of viruses, for example. Failure to include spatial information from the get-go may close off potentially highly productive routes to analysis — including those not yet foreseen. But those data are frequently inadequate or absent.
Many museums and herbaria are trying to make good this problem as best they can, geo-referencing their collections and putting them online. This frequently requires nightmarish work translating place names from various historical eras, languages and conventions into latitudes and longitudes. Although this is a necessary evil in matters retrospective, going forward there is a much simpler and easier answer in the form of coordinates and a time-stamp taken from the Global Positioning System (GPS) at the point of capture, or any other specified point of relevance.
This technology means that there is now much less excuse for allowing spatial data to fall by the wayside simply because they are not relevant to the data collectors' project in hand. Not only are the data easily collected, they are easily stored too. GenBank, for example, introduced fields for latitude and longitude in the metadata attached to its nucleotide sequence records in 2005. But few yet contain such information.
Gene sequence and structure databases have flourished in part because journals require authors to submit published data to them. It is worth considering a similar requirement that all samples in a published study be registered, along with GPS coordinates, in online databases such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. At the same time, it would behove spatial scientists to articulate to the broader research community the potential of recording and making accessible spatial data in the appropriate formats — and the painlessness of the process.
Agrobiodiversity Weblog: For discussions of conservation and sustainable use of the genetic resources of crops, livestock and their wild relatives.