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
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Monday, February 16, 2009
Posted 1:36 PM by Tevita
In Vanuatu, food self-sufficiency is founded on crop diversity\
From : CIRAD
12 February 2009
The root and tuber crop panel of ten villages in Vanuatu comprises more than 1000 varieties of thirteen species. the primary aim of farming in this volcanic archipelago in the South Pacific is to ensure food self-sufficiency.
In Vanuatu, a volcanic archipelago in the South Pacific, root and tuber crops ensure the subsistence and self-sufficiency of the islands' inhabitants. Be they taro (Colocasia esculenta) or the greater yam Dioscorea alata, which are traditional crops introduced by the first sailors to have travelled to the islands some 3500 years ago, or other plants that have been grown for some time or were introduced more recently, root and tuber crops, which are propagated vegetatively, replanted and propagated by cuttings, are the mainstay of the Melanesian diet. However, it is the maintenance of the diversity of these plants that lies behind the food security strategy adopted by the islands' inhabitants. Melanesian gardens are a prime example of this: by mixing crops, they provide protection against pathogens, ensure better use of soils and sunlight, make certain plants more drought-resistant, allow harvests to be spread over time, and provide a more varied diet.
The root and tuber species grown in Vanuatu were inventoried in ten villages representative of the communities in the archipelago. Five primarily grow taro, the other five yam, for both cultural and climatic reasons. With more than 1000 varieties of thirteen species, the inventory confirmed the varietal diversity of the crops grown. The archipelago's agro-biodiversity comprises three types of plants: plants that arrived naturally, for instance on the wind, those imported by the first immigrants - taro and greater yam in this case - and those introduced recently, also by man, in particular cassava.
In most of the villages, notably those attached to their traditions, ancestral crops are predominant. However, in villages subject to severe environmental constraints (acid rain or ash showers due to active volcanoes, cyclones, etc), there are more either local or newly introduced crops. These crops bolster food security by making the cropping systems more resilient.
In other Pacific archipelagos, such as New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands, the introduction by the Europeans of new root and tuber species, combined with the arrival of a market economy, has totally disrupted the existing systems. Ancestral species have disappeared and food crop production has become uniform, making the production systems more fragile and reducing the quality of the local diet. Conversely, in Vanuatu, while the local populations are increasingly accepting and growing new plants, those plants have had to fit into the existing agro-biodiverse systems without adversely affecting the other species grown. In the most fragile zones, they even help to overcome the shortages resulting from the seasonal nature of traditional crops. The food production strategy in Vanuatu is not yet under threat, as culturally speaking, owners set great store by their Melanesian gardens, which is continuing to maintain their characteristic agro-biodiversity, despite the growing role played by cash crops grown for export.
These results were obtained under a project on the agro-biodiversity of root and tuber crops in Vanuatu, joint-funded by the Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM), CIRAD and the Ministry of Agriculture, Quarantine, Forestry and Fisheries in Vanuatu.
[ Contact ] Julie Sardos, email@example.com
Marie-France Duval, marie-France.firstname.lastname@example.org
Genetic Improvement of Vegetatively Propagated Crops Research Unit
[ For further information ] On the Internet
Root Crops Agrobiodiversity in Vanuatu Project website
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