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?
Monday, June 23, 2008
Posted 2:31 PM by Tevita
Turning Your Lawn into a Victory Garden Won't Save You -- Fighting the Corporations Will
By Stan Cox, AlterNet. Posted June 23, 2008.
The corporate agriculture industry would like nothing better than to see us spend all of our free time in our gardens and not in political dissent.
I didn't mean to lead anyone down the garden path. Adding my small voice to those urging Americans to replace their lawns with food plants wasn't, in itself, a bad idea. But now that food shortages and high costs are in the headlines, too many people are getting the idea that the solution to America's and the world's food problems is for all of us in cities and suburbia to grow our own. It's not.
Don't get me wrong: Growing food just outside your front or back door is an extraordinarily good idea, and if it's done without soil erosion or toxic chemicals, I can think of no downside. Edible landscaping can look good, and it saves money on groceries; it's a direct provocation to the toxic lawn culture; gardening is quieter and less polluting than running a power mower or other contraption; the harvest provides a substitute for industrially grown produce raised and picked by underpaid, oversprayed workers; and tending a garden takes a lot of time, time that might otherwise be spent in a supermarket or shopping mall.
So it was in 2005 that our family volunteered our front lawn to be converted into the first in a now-expanding chain of "Edible Estates," the brainchild of Los Angeles architect/artist Fritz Haeg. We already had a backyard garden, but growing food in the front yard (which, as Haeg himself points out, is a reincarnation of a very old idea) has been a wholly different, equally positive experience.
Our perennials and annuals are thriving, we've gotten a lot of publicity, and I've been talking about the project for almost three years. Yet neither of our gardens, front or back, can stand up to the looming agricultural crisis. Good food's most well-read advocate, Michael Pollan, has written that growing a garden is worth doing even though it can make only a tiny contribution to curbing carbon-dioxide emissions. He might have added that growing food is worth it even if it does very little to revive the nation's food system.
World cropland: the pie is mostly crust
The edible-landscaping trend is catching on across the country, and with food prices rising, it has taking sadly predictable turns. A Boulder, Colo. entrepreneur, for example, has tilled up his and several of his neighbors' yards and started an erosion-prone, for-profit vegetable-farming operation. It will supplement his income, but it won't make a nick in the food crisis.
That's because the mainstays of home gardening -- vegetables and fruits -- are not the foundation of the human diet or of world agriculture. Each of those two food types occupies only about 4 percent of global agricultural land (and a smaller percentage in this country), compared with 75 percent of world cropland devoted to grains and oilseeds. Their respective portions of the human diet are similar.
Suppose that half of the land on every one-acre-or-smaller urban/suburban home lot in the entire nation were devoted to food-growing. That would amount to a little over 5 million acres (pdf) sown to food plants, covering most of the space on each lot that's not already covered by the house, a deck, a patio, or a driveway. (And in many places it couldn't be done without cutting down shade trees and planting on unsuitably steep slopes).
That theoretical 5 million acres of potential home cropland compares with about 7 million acres of America's commercial cropland currently in vegetables, fruits, and nuts, and 350 to 400 million acres of total farmland. The urban and suburban area to be brought into production would not approach the number of healthy acres of native grasses and other plants that are slated to be plowed up to make way for yet more corn, wheat, soybeans, and other grains under the newly passed federal Farm Bill.
A nationwide grow-your-own wave would send good vibes through society, ripples that could be greatly amplified by community and apartment-block gardening. But front- and backyard food, even if everyone grew it, would not cover the country's produce needs, much less displace our huge volume of fresh-food imports.
We could, instead, plant every yard to wheat, corn, or soybeans, which would account only for a little over two percent of the US land sown to those crops. Other policies, like dispensing with grain-fed meat and fuel ethanol, would free up far more grain-belt land than that.
Not even a poke in the eye
I've played a part in the promotion of domestic food-growing, and I now I seem to hear daily from people who believe that it's the best alternative to industrial agriculture (as in, "I'll show Monsanto and Wal-Mart that I don't need their food!"). Even though most prominent home-lot food efforts, like the "100-Foot Diet Challenge," also try to draw attention to bigger issues, the wider message can get lost in the excitement. Whatever its benefits, replacing your lawn with food plants will not give Big Agribusiness the big poke in the eye that it needs, nor will it save the agricultural landscapes of the nation or world.
To do that, the big-commodity market must be not just modified but overthrown. Until then, most of that two-thirds or more of the human calorie and protein intake that comes from grains and oilseeds (directly in most of the world or among Western vegetarians, largely via animal products for others in this country) will continue to be served up by a dirty, cruel, unfair, broken system.
Essential for providing vitamins, minerals, and other compounds, a highly varied diet is important, and home gardens around the world help provide such a diet. But with a world population now approaching seven billion people and most good cropland already in use, only rice, wheat, corn, beans, and other grain crops are productive and durable enough to provide the dietary foundation of calories and protein.
Grains made up about the same portion of the ancient Greek diet as they do of ours. We've been stuck with grains for 10,000 years, and our dependence won't be broken any time soon.
The United States emulate Argentina and a handful of other countries by raising cattle that are totally grass-fed instead of grain-fed and thereby consuming less corn and soybean meal. But most of the world is utterly dependent on grains. The desperate people we saw on the evening news earlier this year, filling the streets in dozens of countries, were calling for bread or rice, not cucumbers and pomegranates.
Capitalism: It doesn't go well with food
Humanity's attachment to cereals, grain legumes, and oilseeds has acquired a much harder edge in the industrial era, but as a base for political and economic power, the staple grains have always been unsurpassed. Because they hold calories and nutrients in a dense package that can be easily stored for long periods and transported, the more fortunate members of ancient societies could accumulate surpluses. Those surpluses are recognized by the majority of scholars as necessary to the birth of market economies, which allowed the prosperous to exercise control over society's have-nots. Eventually, states used control over grains to exert political power over entire populations.
Few foods could have filled that role. Noting that before grain agriculture came along, ancient Egyptians might have gathered a surplus of various foods from nature, most of them highly perishable, economic historian Robert Allen once wrote, "If all a tax collector could get from foragers was a load of waterlilies that would wilt by next morning, what was the point of having them?" The Pharaohs managed to exert control over the area's population only after people started farming wheat and barley.
The even bigger problem with grains -- which are short-lived annual plants, grown largely in monoculture -- is that they supplanted the diverse, perennial plant ecosystems that covered the earth before the dawn of agriculture. We've been living with the resulting soil erosion and water pollution ever since.
Then, when grains became fully commodified a couple of centuries ago, things really started to go downhill. In discussing his new book Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System, Raj Patel cited India as an example: "The social safety nets that existed in India under feudal society had been knocked away by the British. If people couldn't afford food, they didn't get to eat, and if they couldn't buy food, they starved. As a result of the imposition of markets in food, 13 million people across the world died in the 19th century. They died in the golden age of liberal capitalism. Those are the origins of markets in food."
Indeed, if capitalism were a wine, it would be a wine that doesn't go well with any type of food.
Most food today is produced not as an end in itself but as a by-product of a global economy with the singular goal of turning maximum profit. That is a dysfunctional arrangement, as Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, the founder of ecological economics explained almost 40 years ago in his book The Entropy Law and the Economic Process: "So vital is the dependence of terrestrial life on the energy received from the sun that the cyclic rhythm in which this energy reaches each region on the earth has gradually built itself through natural selection into the reproductive pattern of almost every species, vegetal or animal ... Yet the general tenor among economists has been to deny any substantial difference between the structures of agricultural and industrial productive activities."
Industrial or commercial output can be increased by building more capacity, stepping up the consumption of inputs, taking on more workers, and pushing workers harder and for longer hours. Farming, by contrast, is inevitably bound by the calendar -- by month-to-month variation in the capacity of soil and sunlight to support the growth of plants. It depends fundamentally on the productivity and the habits of non-human biological organisms over which humans can exert control only up to a point.
That clearly isn't the ideal pattern for efficient wealth generation, so the past century has seen relentless efforts to mold agriculture into the factory model as closely as possible and, where that can't be done, to graft more easily regimented industries -- farm machinery, fertilizers, chemicals, food processing, the restaurant industry, packaging, advertising -- onto an agricultural rootstock. In the US, the dollar outputs of those dependent industries are growing at two to four times the rate of agriculture's own dollar output, putting ever-greater demands on the soil.
With a wholesale shift toward mechanization of US agriculture, 75 percent of economic output now comes from fewer than 7 percent of farms; furthermore, there has been a steep rise in the proportion of farms owned by investors living in distant cities (some of them perhaps avid urban gardeners).
Because, as Georgescu-Roegen showed, there's a fundamental difference between the farm and the factory, the well-used term "factory farming" represents more an aspiration than an accomplished fact. Nevertheless, agribusiness's attempts to defy natural rhythms and achieve industrial efficiency have been ecologically devastating. The biofuel craze, encouraged by subsidies that continue in the new Farm Bill, compounds the problem.
"We must cultivate our garden," and ...
To repair the broken system that supplies the bulk of the nation's diet will require Americans to step out of the garden and into the public arena. Beyond working to get a better Farm Bill passed five years from now, we have to work together to break the political choke-hold that agribusiness has on federal and state governments.
With land and wealth being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands (and with more prisoners than farmers in today's America) we have actually reached a point at which land reform is as necessary here as it is in any nation of Latin America or Asia. Only when we get more people back on the land, working to feed people and not Monsanto, will the system have a chance to work. Most home gardeners know that the root of the problem is political, but the agricultural establishment would like nothing better than to see us spend all of our free time in our gardens and not in political dissent.
Ironically, it's that great troublemaker Voltaire who has too often been trotted out (and too often misquoted) as an advocate of withdrawing from the tumult of society, into tending one's own property. Voltaire was indeed a gardener, and he did end his most famous novel by having Candide, after surviving so many far-flung hazards, utter those famous words to his fellow wanderer Dr. Pangloss: "We must cultivate our garden."
However, with the publication of Candide in 1759, Voltaire entered the most politically active part of his life, as he "went on to a series of confrontations with the consequences of human cruelty that, two hundred-odd years later, remain stirring in their courage and perseverance," in the words of Adam Gopnik.
If Voltaire could find the time for both gardening and radical political action, then all of us can do it.
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See more stories tagged with: gardening, farm bill, sustainable agriculture, food system, food
Stan Cox is a plant breeder and writer in Salina, Kansas. His book, Sick Planet: Corporate Food and Medicine, was just published by Pluto Press.
Posted 1:41 PM by Tevita
Food, poverty, and climate change: an agenda for rich-country leaders
The year 2008 is halfway to the deadline for reaching the Millennium Development Goals. Despite some progress, they will not be achieved if current trends continue. Aid promises are predicted to be missed by $30bn, at a potential cost of 5 million lives. Starting with the G8 meeting in Japan, rich countries must use a series of high-profile summits in 2008 to make sure the Goals are met, and to tackle both climate change and the current food crisis. Economic woes must not be used as excuses: rich countries’ credibility is on the line
From : Oxfam International
No one has to be poor in 2008. No woman need die giving birth for want of simple medical care. No child should die of pneumonia because of a lack of medicine. No girl should have to watch her brothers leave to go to school while she stays at home. No family should see floods wash away its food. No woman should have to watch her children risk their lives drinking dirty water, or go to sleep with empty bellies.
This year, 2008, is the halfway point towards the deadline for reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agreed by 147 nations in the year 2000. They focus on tackling poverty, hunger, gender inequality, education, health, water, sanitation, and the environment. These goals were not chosen as impossible dreams. They were chosen because they are realistic targets that, with concerted action, can and should be reached – and in fact exceeded – in order to banish extreme poverty to the history books Remarkable progress is possible, even in the poorest countries. In Rwanda the number of children dying from malaria has been cut by two-thirds in the last two years alone. If you are born in Tanzania today, you are 25 per cent less likely to die by your first birthday than your sister born just four years ago. The Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, which was created at the last G8 held in Japan in 2000, has to date distributed 30 million anti-malarial bednets, and is saving 3000 lives a day.
The most powerful driver of these transformations is the realisation that change is indeed possible: despair in poor countries and apathy in rich ones are the greatest obstacles. In Malawi, consistent economic growth, government subsidy for fertilisers that contributed to record harvests, mass distribution of free AIDS drugs and falling numbers of those infected, a 50 per cent salary increase for nurses, and free primary education for every child have all contributed to a palpable sense of optimism in the country. Compared with just six years ago when the country was gripped by a food crisis, this is amazing progress. There is so much further to go; some reversals and setbacks are inevitable. But the first ingredient of success is the belief that it is within reach.
It is these successes that make the wider failure of progress towards the MDGs all the more unacceptable. Rapid increases in food prices threaten to reverse what gains have been made, thus driving millions back below the poverty line. At half time, instead of coasting to victory, the world is staring at defeat. Rich countries are not the only reason for this failure. Poor-country governments can and should do far more, and Oxfam works with activists and citizens across the developing world to demand change from their leaders.
But rich countries continue to control 60 per cent of the world economy and have generated 60 per cent of the world’s accumulated carbon emissions. They are the ones who make or break trade or climate negotiations depending on what concessions they give and what demands they make on developing countries. They are the ones producing most of the arms. They are the creditors demanding that illegitimate and crippling debts are repaid: often debts incurred paying for those same arms. But with this great power comes great responsibility. They have a strong obligation to use their money and power to stop doing harm and instead to make the world a fairer, better place. When they do act, for example on debt cancellation or on provision of treatment for those living with HIV and AIDS, lives are saved.
By 2010 we need to see $150bn in additional high-quality annual aid in order to reach the MDGs.1 To go beyond the MDGs, to end poverty and not just halve it, rich countries must finally fulfil their promise, made in 1970, to give 0.7 per cent of their income as aid. In an unprecedented move, the leaders of all the major multilateral agencies, including the World Bank, the United Nations (UN), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the European Commission (EC) have jointly published, in May 2008, a detailed investment plan for Africa, which shows clearly the specific life-saving interventions that could be made if the aid promised at the G8 in Gleneagles were delivered.
Action by rich countries to end poverty is not just a moral imperative: a more prosperous and safer developing world is in the interests of everyone. It means more markets and trading partners. It undermines the threat of armed conflict and terrorism. It reduces the pressure for economic migration. It enables the world to act together to tackle global crises such as climate change and disease.
Sadly, despite these compelling arguments, rich-country leaders more commonly prefer to hide behind promises, polemic, and short-term self-interest.
During the next few months, a series of important opportunities present themselves in which leaders can take action to restore their crumbling credibility. As this year’s G8 chair, Japan must press the rich countries to take action at their meeting in July. Beyond the G8, the emergency MDG meeting called by the UN Secretary-General for September, the Ghana Aid Summit the same month, and the Financing for Development Conference in Doha in November are all important accountability opportunities. These meetings should present action plans, backed by finance, to deliver on the MDGs. The climate change summit in Poznan in Poland in December then offers the chance of a fair deal on climate. The millions of campaigners in rich and poor countries who want action on poverty and inequality have not gone away and will make their presence felt this year, and every year, until leaders meet the challenge.
Oxfam has a six-point agenda for the G8 and other rich-country leaders for these critical meetings. They must follow this set of steps, and follow them now:
1 Stop burning food and start supporting poor farmers
2 Mend broken aid promises
3 Support health, education, water and sanitation for all
4 Climate change: stop harming and start helping
5 Put women and girls first
6 Prioritise security for sustainable development
The recent rapid increases in food prices mean untold misery for millions, with despair and anger leading to riots worldwide. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has estimated that biofuels explain 30 per cent of the recent increase in food prices.2 The IMF has calculated that 50 per cent of the increase in consumption of major food crops is attributable to the rapid increase in the use of US corn for biofuels. Unless new targets to further increase biofuel use are frozen, this will get worse and not better. The rich cannot burn food while the poor world starves. They must revisit support for biofuels that drive food prices higher. At the same time humanitarian aid and long-term investment in agriculture, including subsidised seed and fertiliser, should be rapidly increased and further supported through fair trade rules.
Aid should be going up, not down. Rich countries give just over half as much of their income as they did in 1962. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has confirmed Oxfam’s prediction that rich countries could miss their 2010 promise of $50bn in extra annual aid by as much as $30bn – money that could save 5 million lives. Rich-country leaders have produced nearly a trillion dollars to bail out their reckless banks, yet cannot find $30bn in aid. Many people are tired of broken promises and implausible excuses. If Spain can increase its aid by 33 per cent in one year, then so can Japan, Germany, France, and the UK. It is simply untrue that giving 0.7 per cent of the country’s income as foreign aid is not affordable or politically feasible. Aid must be radically improved in quality, too. We need to see French aid spent on basic health and education, not squandered on scholarships to the Sorbonne and other French universities. Aid must support government plans, not donor pet projects, and aid commitments must be made for years, not months.
This year is the tenth anniversary of the first major protest of Jubilee 2000 at the Birmingham G8 in 1998. Debt cancellation is the best thing the G8 has ever done for poor countries, under huge pressure from this worldwide campaign. It has led to a doubling of social spending in many countries. But the process has now slowed to a crawl and many more countries need relief. Bangladesh has had no cancellation and is still paying rich countries $2m a day. The rules must also be changed to ensure that a new debt crisis does not emerge, and to punish irresponsible lenders who write cheques to dictators and demand payment from poor people.
Essential public services – health, education, water, sanitation – are lethal weapons in the fight against poverty and inequality. Massive progress has been possible with the free and universal provision of these basic services. To pay for this, funds must be forthcoming from rich nations: they should support government plans for free universal public services. They must stop attracting health workers away from poor countries and defending their drug companies’ profits rather than affordable medicines for all.
Climate change is already hitting poor people first and worst, causing increased droughts and floods and threatening livelihoods. Although not directly included in the MDGs, 2015 is also a critical milestone in efforts to combat climate change. The brutal reality is that unless the global trend of greenhouse-gas emissions growth is reversed by 2015, our chances of avoiding unmanageable climate impacts will be very poor. This will have direct life or death consequences for the poorest, most vulnerable people around the world.
Climate is likely to dominate this year’s G8 discussions, but it looks unlikely that the G8 leaders will resolve to support an ambitious post-2012 agreement under the UN. China will be painted as one of the big problems. In fact, rich-country emissions have created the problem in the first place. They have the responisbility to cut their emissions fast and deep as well as to help people in poor countries adapt to the already unavoidable impacts of climate change. At the G8, some money to help poor countries adapt will be announced by the UK, USA, and Japan, but a large part is going to be taken from existing aid budgets, and in the case of the UK will actually be loans. Poor countries face a triple injustice: they have to pay the price for rich countries’ pollution, the little money to help them is being diverted from urgently needed development aid promises, and they are being asked to repay it with interest. This is completely unacceptable; rich countries must come up with at least $50bn a year to compensate poor countries for their dirty carbon habit.
Poverty is literally man-made. Men hold most of the power in the world, and must take responsibility for the brutal poverty and insidious inequality that is the blight on the lives of so many. Prioritising equality for women and girls is a prerequisite of any progress. Ending poverty will require money and dedicated UN leadership.
Poverty, and particularly inequality between different groups, contributes to many of the world’s 31 major armed conflicts. In the next five years, any of the poorest countries in the world could have a one in six chance of civil war, with women worst affected. G8 governments are some of the biggest arms dealers and the flood of unregulated arms undermines the potential of tackling poverty. Currently, spending on arms is 12 times more than spending on aid. If this were reversed, poverty and insecurity could be ended. The world needs a fully enforced Arms Trade Treaty.
The G8 and other rich nations have the power and the opportunity to make poverty history. They have the power to end the current food crisis and to tackle climate change. It is not yet too late, but it will be if rich nations don’t act soon.
Well, that is a great post.Post a Comment
I would like to inform that the campaign also has an official community http://www.orkut.co.in/Community.aspx?cmm=47234928 .
Posted 1:30 PM by Tevita
Pacific Islands hit by high world food prices
From : Agence France-Presse
WELLINGTON - While leaders from around the world argued about how to blunt the impact of soaring food prices in Rome earlier this month, Pacific Islanders were wondering how they would feed their families.
In the Northern Mariana Islands, Lili George, a cook from the Philippines, said she was contemplating going home after 14 years in the capital Saipan.
"Food prices had gone up by over 50 percent recently," she said. "I am planning to go home if things don't get better in the next few months."
Janet Gogue, 31, a mother of four on the island of Guam, says she cannot keep up with the speed of price rises.
"In the last couple of months, food prices continue to go up and it seems like it never stops," Gogue said.
"The last time I bought a 50-pound (22.7-kilogram) bag of rice, it was just a little over 20 US dollars," she said. "I went shopping yesterday and found that the same bag now costs almost 30 dollars."
In the Marshall Islands, government power utility worker Ambi Amram is supporting a household of eight and used to bring home two 20-pound (9.1-kilogram) bags of rice every fortnight.
"Now, I can only afford one bag of rice that has to last us two weeks," he said.
He is supplementing meals with local foods such as breadfruit but in the crowded capital Majuro, there is hardly any spare space for people to grow their own food.
Local agriculture has dwindled on most Pacific islands in the face of cheap food imports.
But imports are no longer cheap thanks to the double whammy of much higher commodity prices -- especially for the islands' staple of rice -- and soaring fuel costs.
The New Caledonia-based regional organization, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, told the world food summit in Rome that urban poor in the Pacific Islands are the worst affected.
Many remote communities still largely rely on subsistence agriculture, growing their own crops and fishing. But rapid population increases has led to the growth of sprawling towns throughout the region.
"In Fiji, for example the poorest 10 percent of the population spend between 50 to 65 percent of their income on food whereas the richest 10 percent spend less than 20 percent on food," the SPC said.
-- High food prices could push more islanders into poverty --
A study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) released last month found that recent increases in world food prices could push another five percent of low income families in the Pacific into poverty this year.
The leader of the study, ADB economist Craig Sugden, said the number of people who will be badly hurt will depend on the response of regional governments. But he warned it could be in the tens of thousands.
"A lot of people are going to suffer. They may go very hungry and face having a very poor diet," he said.
In Fiji, the military government has removed duties on basic food imports to reduce the impact of higher food costs.
From this month, duty has been removed on white and brown rice, tinned fish and cooking oil, and taxes have been removed from local eggs.
The country's military leader Voreqe Bainimarama has also appealed to Fijians to grow more of their own food.
"The only sustainable solution to combating rising food prices is to grow more of our own produce," he said.
Agriculture has been neglected in recent decades in the region and will take years to rebuild. For those who live on coral atolls, where soils are thin or nonexistent and water often in short supply, the options are limited.
Most islands can grow at least some root crops such as taro, however, and they may have to wean themselves off once cheap imported rice.
"For too long our children have been fed on rice as staple food because of the convenience of preparation and storage," President Manny Mori of the Federated States of Micronesia said recently.
"We have neglected our responsibility and even contributed to their lower health standards by failing to teach them to appreciate the natural food and bounty of our islands."
Cheap imported foods have been blamed for spiralling rates of obesity in the Pacific Islands, so a return to local traditional foods would also play an important part in improving the health of islanders.
World Health Organization figures show Pacific Island nations make up eight of the world's 10 most obese countries, and this has created soaring rates of previously nearly unknown problems including diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
But imports are likely to continue playing a big role in feeding the people of the Pacific islands as the region's population is forecast to grow to 14 million in the next 20 years, from the current 9.5 million.
Courtesy of Island Food Network
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Posted 9:45 AM by Tevita
FRAZER BULE LEHI
From : PAPGREN Officer
One of the Pacific's Senior Plant Genetic Resources Specialist and also Head of the Agricultural Research Division in Vanuatu passed away last Saturday. Frazer was also a pioneering and current member of the Plant Genetic Resource Officer Steering committee and also a representative of the Vanuatu Government, to the Network until his death.
The last phone conversation I had with him was on the 10th of June 2008 where he related to me that he has been sick for the last 2 months. He sadly passed away of Cancer few days later on the 14th of June, 2008.
News of his death was received with shock and disbelief from around the region and from International Scientists who have worked with him.
The Senior Scientist at the Global Crop Diversity Trust ( former PAPGREN Adviser), Dr Luigi Guarino in his blog wrote that "My friend Frazer Bule passed away last Saturday. He was head of agricultural research in Vanuatu and one of the most knowledgeable and experienced genetic resources scientists in the Pacific. I first met him in 1985 when we spent some hours in a forest clearing on Espiritu Santo characterizing taro with Grahame Jackson. He was a great person". He’ll be much missed, not least by me.
Dr Mary Taylor, the Head of the Genetic Resources Group in the Secretariat of the Pacific Community wrote these words, "Frazer was unique and as such is a huge loss to Vanuatu, to the Pacific and to the world. I met him in the early 90s when I first came to the Pacific and he was so open and friendly and always willing to try and help where he could in any project. He was currently sourcing some unique yams for us for our climate ready collection - his genetic resources knowledge was amazing. He was a truly great person and if we had more people like Frazer in the world it would be a far better place. He will never be forgotten in the Pacific.
Will miss you heaps Frazer"
Mr Choo Kwong Yan of Bioversity International Malaysia also wrote these tribute "I lost a very good and true friend too. The Pacific islands and PAPGREN as a whole have lost a great scientist.
Fraser would be dearly missed by all of us, his friends at PAPGREN.
By : Tevita Kete
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Posted 1:12 PM by Tevita
1 st Australia/OCENIAFOODS Training Course on Production, Compilation and Use if Food Composition Data in Nutrition Welcome to the Website for the First Australia/OCEANIAFOODS Training Course on Production, Compilation, and Use of Food Composition Data in Nutrition
!!! NEWS FLASH: The organisers have extended the deadline for applications to 1 July 2008. !!!
The University of New South Wales
International Network of Food Data Systems
Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations
European Food Information Resource Network
Secretariat of the Pacific Community
The University of the South Pacific
Nutrition Society of Australia
For more information on the course, and registration forms, please click on one of the links below. To contact the course organisers, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For information and course description
Brochure and Application Form
- To download the application form
- For detailed course outline and information
Venue and Accommodation
- For information on course locations and local accommodation
- For information on off-campus excursions
- For information on OCEANIAFOODS2009
Extended Deadline - July 1, 2008 - Last day to apply
More information on the 1st Australia/OCEANIAFOODS Food composition Training Program to be held in Sydney from 9-20 February 2009 can be found in the following website:Post a Comment
Dr. Jayashree Arcot
Posted 12:20 PM by Tevita
Food Crisis the Focus of Global Summit
From : IPS News
"Urgent action is needed on two fronts – making food accessible to the most vulnerable, and helping small producers raise their output and earn more." - FAO
Feeding the Future - More IPS News
About Farmers, Without Farmers
ROME - Record high food prices and their impact on poor countries dominates the three-day UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) summit of world leaders this week in Rome. But the solutions to the food crisis cannot be left to governments only, according to several small farmers groups running a parallel civil society food forum.
"Food Production Must Rise 50 Percent"
ROME - Food production must rise 50 percent by 2030 to meet increasing demand, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told world leaders as they started a summit to deal with food price crisis.
LATIN AMERICA: Factors in Climbing Food Prices - A Baker’s Dozen
CARACAS - Where today’s high food prices are concerned, there are 13 villains of the piece: the structural and circumstantial causes associated with supply and demand, according to the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (SELA), which says that to tackle them, regional cooperation is essential.
CHINA: 'Food Scarcity Creating New World Order'
BEIJING - Unprecedented food scarcity is beginning to dictate the rules of a new political order where individual countries are scrambling to secure their own food supplies with little concern for the rest of the world, says the founder of the Earth Policy Institute.
CARIBBEAN: Mega-Farms Could Ease Food Import Bill
GEORGETOWN - Early next month, Caribbean governments will host a global forum in Caricom's regional trade bloc headquarters Guyana in hopes of attracting international investors to the languishing agriculture sector.
Q&A: Lack of Food Is a "Persistent Myth"
Interview with IIED scientist Michel Pimbert LONDON - The current food crisis has revived the myth that the world doesn't produce enough food for its six billion people, according to Michel Pimbert, author of a new study that highlights local production as a potential solution.
Food Security Requires New Approach to Water
UNITED NATIONS - The ongoing food crisis, characterised by growing shortages and rising prices of staple commodities, has far reaching implications for the world's scarce water resources, says a new study released here.
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Sunday, June 01, 2008
Posted 7:17 PM by Tevita
Fiji Dwarf Coconut is One Tough Nut
From : USDA
By Alfredo Flores
May 29, 2008
A coconut improvement program involving Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Miami, Fla., has focused on the very durable "Fiji Dwarf" variety to combat a shortage of coconut germplasm in the Florida landscape trade. Valued for their fruit and processing by-products, these trees are also in high demand as a signature landscape element.
But in the 1970s, the lethal yellowing (LY) phytoplasma began attacking the South Florida coconut canopy and had destroyed about 100,000 coconut palms by 1983. As a result, Florida's Division of Forestry initiated a coconut-breeding program at the ARS Subtropical Horticulture Research Station (SHRS) in Miami.
There, strategies for managing LY focused on replacing tall, disease-susceptible varieties with resistant, dwarf types. Although state funding for the LY breeding and disease-management program ended in the 1980s, the SHRS coconut germplasm collection was maintained and eventually incorporated into the National Plant Germplasm System.
ARS research geneticist Alan Meerow began to review the SHRS coconut germplasm after joining the staff in 1999. Fiji Dwarf (also known as Niu Leka) emerged as the prized jewel among varieties because of its heavy, dense crown of short, dark leaves—features especially sought by ornamental growers, landscapers and gardeners. Although it has variable LY resistance in Florida, it is free of nutritional deficiencies that plague most other coconut varieties grown on Florida's relatively infertile soils.
Since 2001, the SHRS researchers have been using molecular tools to investigate the genetics of Fiji Dwarf and other varieties. Meerow and horticulturalist Tomas Ayala-Silva want to know if it's possible to distinguish an LY-resistant Fiji Dwarf genotype.
So far, data show that Fiji Dwarf has the second-highest genetic diversity among coconut varieties, after the tall varieties such as the "Panama Tall," and the largest number of unique variations, or alleles, of any cultivar group within the study. In the past six years, not a single Fiji Dwarf has died of LY at the SHRS. ARS scientists suspect that the surviving Fiji Dwarf palms at their location may be resistant to LY. Meerow and Silva continue to work on this variety with the tropical landscape horticulture industry in mind.
Read more about the research in the May/June 2008 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.
Posted 2:36 PM by Tevita
The secret of Vanuatu's happiness
From : BBC
The South Pacific country of Vanuatu has been voted the happiest place in the world so what makes its inhabitants such a happy lot?
Jean Pierre John is living the dream. That popular fantasy of owning one's own island, complete with swaying coconut palms, coral sea and tropical forest, is his for real.
On the island called Metoma, in the far north of Vanuatu, Jean Pierre can look around and truly say that he is master of all he surveys.
This single fact would put Jean Pierre in an exclusive club, you would think, one made up of billionaire businessmen, royalty and rock stars.
But Jean Pierre is none of these things. In fact, he could not be more different.
On Metoma, Jean Pierre and his family live in thatched huts.
They have no electricity or running water, no radio or television, and their only mode of transport is a rowing boat, which pretty much limits them to trips to the neighbouring island.
On top of that, they have little money and few opportunities to make any.
No money?! Suddenly their island life does not sound all that glamorous. But here's the thing, the Johns really are happy.
This may sound surprising but living on their island they want for nothing.
All the family's food comes from on or around Metoma. Coconuts, yam, and manioc - their staple diet - are all grown on the island and then, of course, there is a sea full of fish to harvest.
And if fish protein gets boring, there is always the occasional fruit bat, from a colony that roosts on the island.
Indeed, food is so easy to gather that the family appears to have a lot of relaxation time.
When the Johns do have money - perhaps when they sell one of the few cows they own - they will buy soap powder and kerosene for their lamps.
But if not, they are just as happy to make do with island solutions - sticks which can be crushed to make soap and coconut oil in place of kerosene.
Some useful items are even washed up onto their island - buoys from boats are cut in half to make bowls and old fishing nets are recycled as hammocks.
It may sound like a Robinson Crusoe existence, and in many ways it is, but the Johns are not castaways. They live on Metoma out of choice.
It is not as if they have not experienced some of the trappings of a more modern world.
Jean Pierre grew up on one of Vanuatu's larger islands and still makes the occasional visit. His eldest son, Joe, even went to school in the nation's capital.
In fact Joe, a very easy-going 28-year-old, had recently returned to Metoma to live full time and he told me that the only thing he missed was hip hop music, but that it was a small price to pay for living on the island.
No money worries
Jean Pierre had not heard that Vanuatu had been voted happiest country in the world but, when I told him, he nodded in a knowingly happy sort of way.
So what is his secret of happiness?
"Not having to worry about money," he immediately replies, while picking his nose in an uninhibited way.
If you asked the same question in the UK, you would probably get the same response. The only difference is that, in Jean Pierre's case, it means not needing any money, rather than having bundles of it.
We can all repeat the mantra "money can't buy you happiness" until we are blue in the face, but deep down, how many of us in the West really believe it to be true?
But I can see that Jean Pierre's happiness is more than just a question of money. It also comes from having his family around him, and there is undoubtedly an enormous respect between them.
Absence of materialism
His children - and this includes those of adult age - do anything their father asks, not out of coercion but because they genuinely want to please.
Forget the Waltons, the Johns are the real McCoy: one happy family.
While talking to Jean Pierre, I find myself wondering whether he is the most contented person I have ever met.
But he is keen to know whether I am having a good time on his island too. Every day he asks me if I am happy. When I tell him things are great, his eyes light up and he replies in pidgin, "Oh, tenkyu tumas."
Whether happiness can truly be measured is a debatable point, but there is no doubt that Metoma - or indeed Vanuatu as a whole - has the ingredients to encourage a greater sense of happiness.
The twin pillars of a classically happy life - strong family ties and a general absence of materialism - are common throughout this island nation.
The simple things in life, it seems, really do make you happy.
From Our Own Correspondent was broadcast on Saturday, 31 May, 2008 at 1130 BST on BBC Radio 4. Please check the programme schedules for World Service transmission times.
Posted 2:09 PM by Tevita
SPREP and SPC support the Pacific delegation to the world’s biggest biodiversity conference.
From : SPREP Media
Bonn, Germany - Pacific islands delegates are working together this week at the 9th Conference of the Parties for the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD COP9). The work of the delegations is supported by several Pacific intergovernmental organisations.
The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) were joined by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) to provide technical assistance to the Pacific islands delegates for the agricultural and forest biodiversity issues that were discussed. This is the first time that the SPC have attended this conference.
“It is great to have our sister CROP agency assisting the Pacific. They offer expertise on issues that are important to the Pacific. SPC being here has been a big help in getting our issues across in two areas that would not have been adequately tackled.” Said Ana Tiraa, SPREP’s Island Biodiversity Officer who is currently in Bonn, Germany attending CBD COP9.
The issue of agricultural and forest biodiversity was recognised as an important priority during the Pacific meeting in April. Participants there developed a strategy aimed at giving the Pacific region a stronger voice at the CBD COP9.
Dr Mary Taylor, SPC Coordinator of Genetic Resources, and Cenon Padolina, Regional Forest Genetic Resources Officer of SPC, attended the conference to provide technical advice and support to the Pacific delegation. Pacific delegates at CBD COP9 generally come from environment departments rather than agricultural ministries.
“It will definitely benefit agricultural biodiversity in the Pacific, as well as SPC. Now that we’ve made links with the environment people in the Pacific, we can help the environment and agricultural units within Pacific countries to work together in order to get the Agricultural biodiversity programme of work underway,” said Dr Taylor.
Having provided technical support to the Pacific delegation during the first week of CBD COP9, Dr Taylor will work on ideas to put together a proposal with some of the Pacific countries that will implement certain parts within the agricultural biodiversity programme of work.
“This is a great opportunity for us to attend, by doing so we can help member countries in addressing their sustainable forest concerns at the meeting,” said Padolina, who will remain in Bonn, Germany until the end of the CBD COP9.
For more information, contact Nanette Wooton, SPREP’s Associate Media and Publications Officer currently in Bonn, by email at email@example.com.
Agrobiodiversity Weblog: For discussions of conservation and sustainable use of the genetic resources of crops, livestock and their wild relatives.