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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Sunday, June 21, 2009
Posted 2:20 PM by Tevita
Pacific region joins global system for conserving and using plant genetic resources for food and agriculture
From : SPC
Wednesday, 16 June 2009, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands — Recognizing that international cooperation and open exchange of genetic resources are both essential for food security, the Pacific region has placed the collections held by the Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT) in the Multilateral System of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA).
The Hon. Taua Kitiona, Samoa’s Minister of Agriculture, representing other ministers and the region, attended the 3rd Session of the Governing Body of the ITPGRFA in Tunis, and in the opening ceremony on 1 June formally placed these collections into the treaty system.
With the ITPGRFA, crops that produce our food – breads, curries, tortillas – are put into a common pool. The treaty facilitates access to those crops for all users and ensures fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from their use.
The ITPGRFA is a global treaty for food security and sustainable agriculture, and is vital for ensuring the continued availability of the plant genetic resources that countries need to feed their people. Crop diversity is an essential tool for generating crop varieties that can help farmers manage climate change. Like all other nations of the world, Pacific Island countries and territories do not have enough crop diversity within their borders to sustain productive systems.
Outbreaks of new pests and diseases can wreak havoc with crops that do not include resistant varieties. This was dramatically illustrated in Samoa in the early 1990s when taro leaf blight totally destroyed taro production because of the susceptibility of the cultivar being used. Climate change is likely to bring other similar challenges.
In 1996, to address these challenges, Pacific Ministers of Agriculture attending a meeting hosted by SPC resolved to put in place policies and programmes to conserve, protect and use their plant genetic resources effectively for development. In response, SPC established a regional genebank in 1998, now known as the Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT).
SPC’s work on genetic resources has not stopped with the establishment of the genebank. An active network – PAPGREN – was established in 2004 to strengthen capacity in the region for conservation and utilisation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. Much has been achieved by both the Centre and PAPGREN in raising awareness of the importance of crop diversity in the region, especially in light of current challenges.
In their second regional conference in Samoa in 2008, Pacific Ministers and Heads of Agriculture and Forestry acknowledged that although the Pacific has significant diversity, there is no assurance that national biodiversity will be sufficient to sustain food production in the future, especially given the projected effects of climate change. The region must be able to access the global pool of genetic diversity, which can be achieved through ratification of the treaty. At the same time, the ministers also saw the importance of putting in place mechanisms to establish the key collections of the Pacific within the global system, enabling the region to contribute to global food security and be part of a global network that will support the sustainable conservation and use of these collections in the future.
“The signing of these agreements by SPC has been fully endorsed by the Pacific region, recognising we live in one world despite the miles between us. To survive the many challenges of this century, we need to work together, sharing our resources and importantly further recognising that the genetic diversity found in genebanks today may become the most important resource we have in shaping an effective response to climate change,” said the Hon. Taua Kitiona in his address to the governing body of the Treaty.
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