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
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Posted 12:42 PM by Tevita
High Food, Fuel Prices a Threat where protection limited : IMF
From : PACNEWS
Pacific Islands particularly vulnerable to swings in commodity prices
*Inflation fuels concern in islands due to large social implications
*High food, fuel prices risk undermining past gains in region's poverty reduction
Inflation has been rising in the Pacific Islands on the back of strong increases in commodity prices. Even though commodity prices have declined from recent peaks, food and fuel prices are still above historical levels and remain a concern in the islands as most have only limited social protection systems.
Headline inflation in the islands has picked up since end-2007 beyond most central banks' comfort zone (see Chart 1). The inflation seems largely imported: Local fuel prices have increased steadily since December 2007.
As of September 2008, the pass-through of international gasoline prices to domestic retail prices has been complete for Fiji, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste.
Food price inflation has also increased substantially. The large share of food in the various consumer price index baskets has magnified the impact. Moreover, because of low income levels, much of the food basket includes products that are unprocessed or have little value added, causing a relatively high pass-through of increases in imported food prices. This is due to a low elasticity of demand for these products compared to those with higher value added.
Higher food and fuel costs are a serious issue in the Pacific Islands as pressure is put on household budgets. Rising fuel and food costs put pressure on household budgets. Food-related expenditure is a large share of household spending. The food share in total household spending is on average 50 percent for these islands—about twice as much as in the emerging markets.
There are also signs of home-grown demand pressures. Credit growth remains high and excess liquidity pervasive in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Fiscal policies appear to have turned expansionary in the Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, and Vanuatu.
Core inflation has already started to trend up. Second-round effects are emerging in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, and Tonga, indicating that inflation has become more entrenched. Higher input costs (of animal feed and fertilizer, in addition to energy) have created upstream pressures on prices. Wage pressures are mounting, notably in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
Balance of payments impact
The impact of the higher commodity prices on the Pacific islands' domestic and external balances has been uneven. Most of the islands rely heavily on imports—mostly of food and fuel (see Chart 2)—while their export base remains narrow. As a result, their external balances are vulnerable to commodity price spikes. The Pacific island countries rely almost exclusively on oil-based fuel for their energy needs, limiting the scope for substitution in production and consumption.
Net food and oil importers such as Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, and Tonga have been hit the hardest and these countries are currently facing wider current account deficits. The Marshall Islands have received an emergency foreign loan to support the domestic energy
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