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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Monday, March 02, 2009
Posted 6:26 PM by Tevita
Rare crops seen as key to food crisis
From : NZ Herald
Monday Mar 02, 2009
Rare crops found in the Pacific islands and former British colonies should be grown in much larger quantities to help the world avoid food shortages, a leading expert on plants has warned.
Professor Stephen Hopper, director of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew in London, said people needed to start eating rare crops like breadfruit, cowpea and Bambara groundnut.
He said cultivating species such as breadfruit, grown on trees native to the South Pacific islands, and bulrush, whose roots were a popular carbohydrate among indigenous Australian aborigines, could also help preserve biodiversity.
He argued that the world was too reliant on a handful of key species of edible plants for food, warning that the combined threat of disease, climate change and lack of diversity in commercial crops had left the dozen staple species that provide the bulk of the global food supply - such as wheat, maize and barley - increasingly vulnerable.
Professor Hopper predicted that crops such as breadfruit, a fruit grown in British colonies in the 18th century as a cheap foodstuff for slaves, Barbados cherries, Bambara groundnuts, cowpeas and pigeon peas were among the crops that had potential to become future staples.
Famine has become an ever more frequent condition facing the world, particularly in heavily populated but marginal desertifying lands most susceptible to global warming.
"Food shortages are inevitable in such circumstances and will be exacerbated as the human population increases globally.
"The world is currently fed primarily from just a dozen species - around 80 per cent of the world's food comes from those few plants used in commercial agriculture. Yet there are more than 30,000 edible plants known on the planet, so it is baffling we are so reliant on so few species.
"Diversifying the range of crop species is a sensible approach and could ensure food is available from alternative crops should staples fail in any given season."
Professor Hopper spoke out after giving a speech about biodiversity to business and government officials at the 2009 Sustainability Summit organised by the Economist magazine in London in February.
He said industrialised agriculture mass produced crops such as wheat, rice, maize, barley, oats and potatoes, which were the main staple forms of food around the world, at the expense of other types of plants that were cleared to make way for these crops.
As global temperatures increase, many areas that grow these crops will become unable to sustain them. Low genetic diversity in these staple food crops through generations of breeding has left them vulnerable to disease and pests.
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Agrobiodiversity Weblog: For discussions of conservation and sustainable use of the genetic resources of crops, livestock and their wild relatives.