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?
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Posted 8:34 PM by Tevita
Taro and Coffee are safe on Hawai’i Island
December 7, 2008
Lele ka houpo i ka ʻoliʻoli!
The heart leaps for joy!
From : kahea.wordpress.com
In November, Hawaii Island County Council passed a visionary law to ban GMO-taro and coffee on Hawaii Island. For the 1st time in world history, and thanks to your overwhelming support, the public has successfuly supported protections of a sacred, indigenous plant from dangerous, irreversible genetic modification and patenting.
Over 1,200 people submitted testimony in favor of the bill. Hawaii Island taro growers were in unified support, and over 80% of coffee farmers approved the ban. People of all ages and backgrounds came forward to be a voice for Haloa, the taro, and support the preservation of our beloved natural Kona coffee. Hundreds of community members and organizations enthusiastically testified at the four hearings, which stretched long into the evenings.
Bill #361- “Restriction of Genetically Engineered Taro and Coffee” successfully passed through 3 council hearings, with a final unanimous vote of 9-0. Then the council voted 7-0 to override a veto by Mayor Kim, and turn the bill into county law. Councilman Angel Pilago originally introduced the bill, and throughout the coyurse of the hearings other councilmembers did their research. Councilman Dominic Yagong from Hamakua, who was undecided after the 2nd hearing, decided to do a random poll of 89 coffee farmers. He found that 82% were in support of the ban. In Kona, 53 out of 60 coffee farmers polled also said yes to the ban (88%).
We now continue to work across our islands, with county councils, neighborhood boards and state legislators to protect the legacy of traditional farming and the taro on our tables. Stay rooted for information on how to support protection for taro on all islands– the huli is planted, this is a growing movement!
Why are GMO-taro & coffee rejected by local farmers & consumers?
The taro plant is sacred to the Hawaiian people and the foundation of local culture. Taro is also the world’s only allergen-free carbohydrate. Genetic modification, or GMO, of taro is disrespectful to the cultural heritage of Hawai’i, and could greatly endanger the unique, important health qualities of the taro plant.
GMO-coffee could contaminate natural Kona coffee and economically destroy the specialty local coffee industry– Japanese & European consumers largely reject GMOs.
GMO-taro & coffee could be patented and “owned” by corporations. Patents would rob local farmers of the free and public right-to-grow taro and coffee.
Can GMOs harm our health or the environment?
Scientific studies on laboratory animals show that GMOs can cause toxic, allergic, and deadly reactions. However, despite the health impacts on lab animals, GMOs have NOT been scientifically tested on humans to prove that they are safe for consumption.
The effects of GMOs on the ‘aina have never been scientifically studied. If released from the lab, GMO-taro and coffee could pose serious threats to Hawaii’s unique ecosystems and diversity of natural taro and Kona coffee. Unnatural gene mutations introduced through GMOs may harm insects, birds, fish and other wildlife. GMO mutations can also unpredictably transfer from the GMOs into other organisms through gene transfer among soil & insect microbes, with unknown longterm impacts on the whole ecosystem.
Click here for more background
Posted 8:06 PM by Tevita
Baylor researchers find use for coconut husks in car parts
From : religionblog.dallasnews.com
Baylor University of Waco has sent this press release about researchers there discovering a use for coconut husks in car parts - something that could help Third World farmers:
Baylor Researchers Create Car Parts From Coconuts
A team of Baylor University researchers who have identified a variety of low-cost products that can be manufactured from coconuts in poor coastal regions have now developed a way to use coconut husks in automotive interiors.
The Baylor researchers are developing a technology to use coconut fiber as a replacement for synthetic polyester fibers in compression molded composites. Specifically, their goal is to use the coconut fibers to make trunk liners, floorboards and interior door covers on cars, marking the first time coconut fibers have been used in these applications.
Since coconuts are an abundant, renewable resource in all countries near the equator, Baylor's team is working to create multiple products that could be manufactured from coconuts in those regions using simple and inexpensive technology. With an estimated 11 million coconut farmers in the world making an average annual income of $500, the Baylor researchers hope to triple the coconut farmer's annual income by increasing the market price for each coconut to 30 cents, which could have a substantial effect on the farmer's quality of life.
"What we hope to do is create a viable market for the poor coconut farmer," said Dr. Walter Bradley, Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Baylor, who is leading the project. "Our goal is to create millions of pounds of demand at a much better price."
The Baylor researchers said the mechanical properties of coconut fibers are just as good, if not better, than synthetic and polyester fibers when using them in automotive parts. Bradley said the coconut fibers are less expensive than other fibers and better for the environment because the coconut husks would have otherwise been thrown away. Coconuts also do not burn very well or give off toxic fumes, which is crucial in passing tests required for actual application in commercial automotive parts.
Bradley said they working closely with Hobbs Bonded Fibers, a Waco-based fiber processing company that is a supplier of unwoven fiber mats to four major automotive companies.
The Baylor researchers are now putting the automotive parts that use coconut fiber through a series of certification tests to see if the fiber meets the necessary safety performance specifications.
Posted 7:56 PM by Tevita
Germany Hears Cries Of Small Island States
By Ulamila Wragg, Pacific Communications Team, Poznan, Pola
Friday: December 12, 2008
From : Pacific Magazine
In what can be regarded as a breaking of ranks within the European Union, Germany today announced in Poland that it has set a 40 percent emission reduction target from 1990 levels by 2020.
Germany’s Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel delivered his country’s powerful promise this afternoon at the United Nations global climate change conference in the city of Poznan.
Germany’s timing of delivering the promise in Poznan is ironic given that today, heads of states of the EU are also meeting in Brussels to set measures that will allow them to meet 20 percent reduction target of their emission in 2020 compared to 1990. They are keen to also commit to reducing emissions by up to 30 percent if a satisfying agreement is reached in Copenhagen next year.
Germany’s promise today is in line with the plea by the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) to the global summit that industrialised countries cut emissions by 40 percent from 1990 level by 2020. AOSIS wants the target entrenched in the post-Kyoto Protocol regime that will be sealed in Copenhagen next year.
“Germany has already achieved its Kyoto targets this year and we will exceed them in 2010. We have set ourselves the target of 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared with 1990. We have found that if we implement our targets effectively, we will save 17 million Euros on energy imports in 2020,” said Gabriel.
He said Germany is also generating demand in employment-intensive domestic sectors, thus creating 500,000 new jobs by 2020.
“Our negotiations are by far not progressing enough. We are not making any progress on crucial issues. Despite the knowledge on that is necessary, we are not even able to decide on the range of necessary mid-term reductions by developed countries, let alone on urgently needed financing structures for adaptation,” Gabriel said.
Gabriel took the opportunity to call on EU member countries not to exploit the current financial crisis “as an excuse for moving away from committed climate protection.”
“But as we have just learnt from the financial crisis: those trading in bad loans ultimately lose trillions of euros and dollars. And the worst loan we are trading in globally is climate loan. It is already costing human lives in regions where desertification is spreading and sea levels are rising,” he said.
“It is threatening the biodiversity which is the basis of our well being and it will cost our children and grandchildren much more than the current financial crisis if they have to cope with the cost of unchecked climate change.”
“We are the world’s environment ministers. Who, if not we, have the responsibility to remind the world that it cannot postpone the problem of melting icebergs? Nor will rising sea-levels stop for a rest, simply because bankers and brokers have squandered trillions?”
Gabriel said that Poznan has to be more than negotiating technical details.
“Poznan must send the unmistakeable signal that climate change belongs at the very top of the international policy agenda and must not be relegated to ‘any other business'.”
Posted 7:03 PM by Tevita
Rich Countries Launch Great Land Grab to Safeguard Food Supply
From : © 2008 Guardian/UK
Rich governments and corporations are triggering alarm for the poor as they buy up the rights to millions of hectares of agricultural land in developing countries in an effort to secure their own long-term food supplies.
The head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Jacques Diouf, has warned that the controversial rise in land deals could create a form of "neo-colonialism", with poor states producing food for the rich at the expense of their own hungry people.
Rising food prices have already set off a second "scramble for Africa". This week, the South Korean firm Daewoo Logistics announced plans to buy a 99-year lease on a million hectares in Madagascar. Its aim is to grow 5m tonnes of corn a year by 2023, and produce palm oil from a further lease of 120,000 hectares (296,000 acres), relying on a largely South African workforce. Production would be mainly earmarked for South Korea, which wants to lessen dependence on imports.
"These deals can be purely commercial ventures on one level, but sitting behind it is often a food security imperative backed by a government," said Carl Atkin, a consultant at Bidwells Agribusiness, a Cambridge firm helping to arrange some of the big international land deals.
Madagascar's government said that an environmental impact assessment would have to be carried out before the Daewoo deal could be approved, but it welcomed the investment. The massive lease is the largest so far in an accelerating number of land deals that have been arranged since the surge in food prices late last year.
"In the context of arable land sales, this is unprecedented," Atkin said. "We're used to seeing 100,000-hectare sales. This is more than 10 times as much."
At a food security summit in Rome, in June, there was agreement to channel more investment and development aid to African farmers to help them respond to higher prices by producing more. But governments and corporations in some cash-rich but land-poor states, mostly in the Middle East, have opted not to wait for world markets to respond and are trying to guarantee their own long-term access to food by buying up land in poorer countries.
According to diplomats, the Saudi Binladin Group is planning an investment in Indonesia to grow basmati rice, while tens of thousands of hectares in Pakistan have been sold to Abu Dhabi investors.
Arab investors, including the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, have also bought direct stakes in Sudanese agriculture. The president of the UEA, Khalifa bin Zayed, has said his country was considering large-scale agricultural projects in Kazakhstan to ensure a stable food supply.
Even China, which has plenty of land but is now getting short of water as it pursues breakneck industrialisation, has begun to explore land deals in south-east Asia. Laos, meanwhile, has signed away between 2m-3m hectares, or 15% of its viable farmland. Libya has secured 250,000 hectares of Ukrainian farmland, and Egypt is believed to want similar access. Kuwait and Qatar have been chasing deals for prime tracts of Cambodia rice fields.
Eager buyers generally have been welcomed by sellers in developing world governments desperate for capital in a recession. Madagascar's land reform minister said revenue would go to infrastructure and development in flood-prone areas.
Sudan is trying to attract investors for almost 900,000 hectares of its land, and the Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, has been courting would-be Saudi investors.
"If this was a negotiation between equals, it could be a good thing. It could bring investment, stable prices and predictability to the market," said Duncan Green, Oxfam's head of research. "But the problem is, [in] this scramble for soil I don't see any place for the small farmers."
Alex Evans, at the Centre on International Cooperation, at New York University, said: "The small farmers are losing out already. People without solid title are likely to be turfed off the land."
Details of land deals have been kept secret so it is unknown whether they have built-in safeguards for local populations.
Steve Wiggins, a rural development expert at the Overseas Development Institute, said: "There are very few economies of scale in most agriculture above the level of family farm because managing [the] labour is extremely difficult." Investors might also have to contend with hostility. "If I was a political-risk adviser to [investors] I'd say 'you are taking a very big risk'. Land is an extremely sensitive thing. This could go horribly wrong if you don't learn the lessons of history."
Posted 6:59 PM by Tevita
[Promusa] Travel grants for the ISHS/ProMusa symposium"International Banana Symposium: Global Perspectives on AsianChallenges" through CTA Seminar Support Programme
From : firstname.lastname@example.org
ProMusa, in collaboration with the Guang Dong Academy for Agricultural Sciences (GDAAS), the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS) and Bioversity’s Banana and Plantain Regional Network for Asia and the Pacific (BAPNET), is organizing the “International Banana Symposium: Global Perspectives on Asian Challenges” in China in September 2009.
Participants are invited to apply for a travel grant from the Seminar Support Programme (SSP) of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA). Applicants must meet the following criteria:
1) They must be ACP nationals and reside in one of the 79 ACP countries that are signatories to the Cotonou Agreement (http://www.cta.int/about/acp.htm).
2) They should belong to one of CTA’s main target groups: researchers, planners, extension workers, governmental and non-governmental agricultural and rural development agency staff, rural associations (producers’ organisations, women’s organisations and rural youth).
3) They must have an accepted presentation (oral or poster).
Please note that representatives of the private sector are also eligible as candidates and that female candidates are particularly encouraged to apply. Please be aware though, if you have received funding from the SSP two times within the last five years, you would not eligible to apply this time.
The criteria document is attached; please refer to it for full details.
If you meet the outlined criteria, please fill out the attached application form and send it to the attention of Karen Lehrer (email@example.com). Note that the CTA will cover the economy-class airfare and accommodation for succesfull applicants. The applicant will be responsible to cover other expenses, such as per diem allowance, registration fee, visa-related expenses, and local travel in applicant’s country and in China. The organizers regret that they will not be able to waive the registration fees.
Please send your application to Karen Lehrer (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 28 February 2009.
If you have any questions regarding the application procedure, please contact Karen Lehrer (email@example.com).
Commodities for Livelihoods Programme
Parc Scientifique Agropolis II
Cedex 5 - France
Tel: +33 (0)4 67 61 29 00
Fax: +33 (0)4 67 61 03 34
Bioversity International is the operating name of the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI)and the International Network for Improvement of Banana and Plantain (INIBAP)
Posted 5:41 PM by Tevita
Draft resolution on REDD sails through to Copenhagen
From : PACNEWS
By Makereta Komai(Pacific communications team), Poznan, Poland
12 DECEMBER 2008 POZNAN (Pacnews) ---- After three years of scientific research and trials of reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD), a draft conclusion, which introduces a possible draft text for a new carbon trading initiative has been endorsed in Poznan.
The draft conclusion was adopted by the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advance (SBSTA), one of the scientific bodies created within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The resolution gives SBSTA the authority to convene more discussion on the so-called ‘methodological issues.’
“The UNFCCC Secretariat, subject to funding, is to organise an expert meeting before Copenhagen, to discuss reference emission levels for deforestation and forest degradation, the draft resolution said.
The Secretariat will also prepare a technical paper on the cost of implementing and monitoring systems related to REDD and assess carbon stocks. It will also collate experiences and views of rainforest nations, who have trialled, REDD methodologies.
By February next year, Parties are requested to submit their experiences with REDD methodologies.
“SBSTA also invites Parties and accredited observers to submit to the Secretariat their views on issues relating to indigenous people and local communities.”
A number of indigenous leaders outside the session did not want to comment on the draft resolution.
“We want to study the resolution first, but as it is, our concerns seem watered down.
“According to paragraph 15 of the draft resolution, the Secretariat will only seek our views but not formally engage in any dialogue with us,” said an indigenous leader who did not wish to be named.
“Indigenous peoples must not be excluded from, and should be centrally involved in and benefit from, all climate change and forest programmes and policies at all levels to ensure that they deliver justice and equity and contribute to sustainable development, biodiversity protection, and climate change mitigation and adaptation, a text from their submission to SBSTA.
Papua New Guinea, one of the two sponsors of the REDD initiative, described the inclusion of a draft resolution as a ‘success story’ for a developing country.
It will make a statement on REDD at the high level segment tomorrow (Friday 12 Dec), when its Ambassador at the United Nations, Robert Aisi, delivers PNG’s statement on behalf of its forest minister, Beldan Namah.
Even though REDD has not been adopted as a formal UNFCCC mechanism, many industrialised countries, or Annex 1 countries have made financial contributions to REDD.
The two major commitments have come from the European Union, which has promised €1.3 billion and Norway, around US$3 billion. United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Milliband announced that £100 million has been set aside for rainforest nations.
Agrobiodiversity Weblog: For discussions of conservation and sustainable use of the genetic resources of crops, livestock and their wild relatives.