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

  • CTA
  • SPC
  • CEPaCT

     genebank locations
    Click on the thumbnail to see a map of the locations of Pacific genebanks. Click here to download a regional directory of genebanks in the Pacific, including information on their location, contact details and holdings.

    PAPGREN partners

    Mr William Wigmore
    Director of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture
    Department of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 96
    Cook Islands
    Tel: (682) 28711-29720
    Fax: (682) 21881
    Email: cimoa@oyster.net.ck

    Mr Adelino S. Lorens
    Agriculture Pohnpei
    Office of Economic Affairs
    P.O. Box 1028
    Pohnpei 96941
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Tel: (691) 3202400
    Fax: (691) 3202127
    Email: pniagriculture@mail.fm

    Dr Lois Englberger
    Island Food Community of Pohnpei
    Research Advisor
    P.O. Box 2299
    Pohnpei 96941
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Email: nutrition@mail.fm

    Mr Apisai Ucuboi
    Director of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forest
    Koronivia Research Station
    P.O. Box 77
    Fiji Islands
    Tel: (679) 3477044
    Fax: (679) 3477546-400262
    Email: apisainu@yahoo.com

    Dr Maurice Wong
    Service du Developpement Rural
    B.P. 100
    Tahiti 98713
    French Polynesia
    Tel: (689) 42 81 44
    Fax: (689) 42 08 31
    Email: maurice.wong@rural.gov.pf

    Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
    Head, Research Section
    Division of Agriculture
    Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development
    P.O. Box 267
    Tel: (686) 28096-28108-28080
    Fax: (686) 28121
    Email : agriculture@tskl.net.ki; Beenna_ti@yahoo.com

    Mr Frederick Muller
    Ministry of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 1727
    Majuro 96960
    Marshall Islands
    Tel: (692) 6253206
    Fax: (692) 6257471
    Email: rndsec@ntamar.net

    Mr Herman Francisco
    Bureau of Agriculture
    Ministry of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 460
    Koror 96940
    Tel: (680) 4881517
    Fax: (680) 4881725
    Email: bnrd@pnccwg.palaunet.com

    Ms Rosa Kambuou
    Principal Scientist PGR
    NARI Dry Lowlands Programme
    Laloki Agricultural Research Station
    P.O. Box 1828
    National Capital District
    Papua New Guinea
    Tel: (675) 3235511
    Fax: (675) 3234733
    Email: kambuou@global.net.pg

    Ms Laisene Samuelu
    Principal Crop Development Officer
    Crops Division
    Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries & Meteorology
    P.O. Box 1874
    Tel: (685) 23416-20605
    Fax: (685) 20607-23996
    Email: lsamuelu@lesamoa.net

    Mr Jimi Saelea
    Director of Research
    Department of Agriculture and Livestock
    P.O. Box G13
    Solomon Islands
    Tel: (677) 27987

    Mr Tony Jansen
    Planting Materials Network
    Kastom Gaden Association
    Burns Creek, Honiara
    P.O. Box 742
    Solomon Islands
    Tel: (677) 39551
    Email: kastomgaden@solomon.com.sb

    Mr Finao Pole
    Head of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture & Forests
    P.O. Box 14
    Tel: (676) 23038
    Fax: (676) 24271
    Email: thaangana@hotmail.com

    Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
    Head of Research
    Department of Agriculture & Rural Development
    Private Mail Bag 040
    Port Vila
    Tel: (678) 22525
    Fax: (678) 25265
    Email: flehi@hotmail.com

    Other links

    Other CROP agencies
    Forum Secretariat
    University of the South Pacific

    Pacific biodiversity
    Biodiversity hotspots
    Breadfruit Institute
    Hawaiian native plants
    Intellectual property rights
    Nature Conservancy
    WWF South Pacific Program

    Other Pacific organizations
    Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific
    Micronesian Seminar
    Te Puna web directory

    Pacific news
    Cafe Pacific
    CocoNET Wireless
    Island Directory
    Pacific Islands News
    Pacific Islands Report
    Pacific Islands Travel
    Pacific Time
    South Pacific travel
    Time Pacific

    Interested in GIS?



    Tuesday, September 01, 2009

    Preserving the Bounty of Breadfruit

    UBC Reports | Vol. 54 | No. 12 | Dec. 4, 2008

    By Raina Ducklow and Bud Mortenson

    Any way you slice it, breadfruit is a big deal.

    A traditional Polynesian crop grown throughout the Pacific for more than 3,000 years, breadfruit’s diversity is now declining -- some varieties have already disappeared -- due to damage from tropical cyclones, climate change, and loss of cultural knowledge.

    Susan Murch, Canada Research Chair in Natural Products Chemistry at UBC Okanagan, hopes to not only preserve breadfruit from further decline, she’s working on ways to make it much more abundant -- improving food security in tropical regions and creating new food products for North American tables.

    “Every four seconds someone in the tropics dies of hunger. It is one of the biggest food security issues in the world at the moment,” says Murch. “Breadfruit is a tree that most people in North America have not heard of, but has huge value for food security. A single tree can produce 150 to 200 kilograms of food per year. But distribution of breadfruit to feed people who are starving has been limited by difficulties propagating and transporting the trees.”

    Breadfruit, which reproduces through suckers or root cuttings, doesn’t do well in transport. Murch points to some infamous history that links the breadfruit tree to the 1789 mutiny on the HMS Bounty.

    “The whole point of the Bounty’s journey was to go out to Oceania, to collect trees and bring them back to produce food in the Caribbean,” she says. “Part of the reason for the mutiny was that the ship’s fresh water was being used for the breadfruit trees, rather than allowing the sailors to drink it.”

    More than 200 years later, breadfruit continues to be a prized source of high-energy food, but it remains hard to reproduce and international quarantine requirements on root materials make distribution difficult. Only now is science beginning to make this invaluable tree easier to reproduce and send where it’s most needed.

    At a field station at the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) in Maui, Hawaii, Murch is working with a collection of 230 70-foot-tall breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) trees. The collection was established in the 1970s and 1980s by Diane Ragone, a world expert on breadfruit, and each tree is a unique variety collected from a different Pacific island, with different leaf shapes, nutritional composition and environmental requirements. It’s an important and rare collection, vulnerable to damage from a natural disaster such as one of the Pacific’s great cyclones.

    Murch’s team is eagerly developing new ways to maintain, conserve, mass propagate, and distribute the most beneficial traditional varieties using modern techniques of plant tissue culture and biotechnology.

    “My work is all about the nutrition in breadfruit, and the distribution of breadfruit,” Murch says, explaining that in Hawaii and at her UBC Okanagan lab, her team has learned how to grow the trees in bioreactors. Though many North American food crops are produced this way, Murch is the first to make it work with breadfruit, and this new way of reproducing breadfruit trees is already having a big impact on the plant’s distribution.

    Last year, Murch’s lab donated 7,500 trees for food security to tropical nations but she was quickly swamped with requests for more trees than she could possibly produce in the research facility. To produce enough trees, Murch has partnered with the NTBG, the government of Western Samoa, and a commercial horticultural company -- Cultivaris in San Diego, California -- to mass-produce and distribute trees.

    “If our research can have a positive impact on food security and provide food in regions where there isn’t enough food, that is a valuable contribution,” she says.

    In addition to distributing breadfruit trees in the tropics, Murch is investigating how to use the plant to improve nutrition in North America. Breadfruit fruits can be dried and ground to produce gluten-free flour high in several vitamins and protein, making it potentially useful as a food additive, supplement or hypoallergenic alternative to wheat flour in North America.

    Murch says that, overall, she wants to understand the role that plants play in human health. “Everything we eat comes from a plant or something that ate a plant,” says Murch. “The nutrients and phytochemicals we consume can greatly affect our wellbeing. Understanding the mechanisms of a plant has a huge impact on how human health will progress through the next 50 years and on how we can feed and care for the growing population in the world.”

    Find out more about Susan Murch’s breadfruit research at: www.ubc.ca/okanagan/chees/faculty/susmurch.html or www.ntbg.org/breadfruit.

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