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?
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Posted 1:34 PM by Tevita
Pacific Climate Change framework assessed by SPREP
21 OCTOBER 2009 MAJURO (SPREP) -----The implementation of the Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change (PIFACC) has been assessed in a report commissioned by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
The overview of the report was discussed on the first day of the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable (PCCR).
This particular framework is the overarching guidance for climate change policy in the Pacific islands region, and was endorsed by the Pacific leaders in 2005. It is at the forefront of work conducted by the Pacific Futures programme at SPREP.
”Threats from climate change are impacting upon everyone, there are projections that will effect the availability of safe drinking water, a loss of natural biodiversity as temperature conditions will see invasive species thrive, sea level rise threatening the sovereignty of Pacific islands peoples and a threat to food security as salt water inundation becomes a regular occurrence for some nations in the Pacific, said the report.
In order to ensure we address climate change together, in a coordinated manner, the PIFACC is a guide as to how we’ll actively adapt and mitigate climate change together.
“Findings show that there are a lot of climate change activities happening, but it has been identified that there is a need for more coherent and coordination,” said Espen Ronneberg the Climate Change Adviser for SPREP, he presented the overview of the assessment at the PCCR.
“This is largely to be a key task for the roundtable. It is something we need to work on to improve the operational structure of the roundtable process.”
Six recommendations were presented in the report.
An immediate consideration is the suggestion to conduct a mid-term review of the Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change. Any future direction for the PIFACC and the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable are to be discussed during the week.
“One suggestion from SPREP is to establish thematic working groups to assist in the review process.. There may be other options as to how we move forward on this assessment report but it’s really up to the countries to decide,” said Ronneberg.
The remainder of the recommendations includes those which focus on a database of climate change information. It is proposed to establish a single extensive data base of climate change and related projects with historical validity of information.
The assessment report also centers on the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable. It is recommended that the roundtable be convened at times and locations that make the most of coordination and integration opportunities, this also takes into consideration minimizing the greenhouse gas emissions through air travel.
The next recommendation looks at what takes place after the PCCR.
“In order to ensure that decisions made during the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable are carried out in a timely and effective manner, the report recommends that a person be appointed to provide leadership and oversee these actions.
A final recommendation looks at providing support for SPREP which is the secretariat to the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable and recommends that the University of the South Pacific establish a unit to provide technical and other support to SPREP.
“The next steps that we take, is really up to the countries to decide. I think if we can get some clear direction on what we should be doing to improve on the working arrangements then I would be happy with that,” said Ronneberg.
“But if we have to spend more time thinking about this and moving to have discussions with member countries then that’s the way that we’ll have to move forward on this. It’s up to the member countries.”..ends
Monday, October 19, 2009
Posted 10:17 PM by Tevita
Charting a Multitude of Uses for Agrobiodiversity
Posted on October 15, 2009 by cgiar
A new Web-based tool is now available for collecting information about initiatives aimed at helping rural communities adapt to climate change through the use of agricultural biodiversity, or agrobiodiversity.
Made available by the climate change project of Bioversity International’s Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research, the tool is intended to facilitate dialogue between rural communities around the world and to build a knowledge base, which can be used to increase awareness of practices available to these communities for coping with climate change. Contributions will be synthesized for use in advocating stronger involvement of marginal groups in the climate change policy debate.
The term agrobiodiversity encompasses all of the plants, trees, animals, insects, microbes, pathogens and fungi occurring in agricultural systems. The world’s increasing dependence on modern crop varieties and animal breeds of just a few major species is among the forces driving erosion of such diversity, which limits the options open to researchers and farmers for improving agricultural production and adapting it to changing conditions.
The Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research was created during 2004 in recognition of the urgent need to arrest diversity loss. Providing a neutral space for exploring the often politicized issues associated with agrobiodiversity, the platform encourages members to engage in collaborative research, helps identify gaps in global knowledge about agrobiodiversity and raises awareness of the threats to this resource as well as the value of efforts to overcome them.
The platform is supported by Bioversity International, the CGIAR System-wide Genetic Resources Programme (SGRP) and the Christensen Fund (http://www.christensenfund.org/).
Posted 10:11 PM by Tevita
Erosion of Crop Diversity Worrying
Harare — MALAWI and most other African countries need to come up with strategies and policies to promote agro-biodiversity conservation to minimise the impact of climate change and other natural disasters on the livelihoods of resource-poor farmers, a top Malawian plant breeder says.
In a wide-ranging interview in Lilongwe recently, Dr Moses Maliro, a plant breeder at the University of Malawi Bunda College of Agriculture, told this writer that the rapid loss of diverse cultivated crops and their wild relatives will affect the poor and threaten the future of agricultural development in Malawi and most other African countries.
"The impact of climate change and population is quite damaging to the livelihoods of the poor farmers.
"We need to strategise and come up with policies that promote agro-biodiversity conservation to enhance food security and help our poor farmers to cope with this looming climate change disaster," he said.
"Monoculture and the aggressive promotion of improved varieties have forced farmers to neglect their own landraces. Smallholder farmers' efforts to promote crop diversity must be supported by governments, international partners and local business community."
Dr Maliro said the preservation and use of crop diversity is important to the more marginal diverse agricultural environments where modern plant breeding has had much less success.
He said farmers in these areas tend to be poorly served by public research and extension system.
"Farmers are neglecting their own traditional crop varieties and their wild relatives in favour of monoculture (maize) and other market-driven crops such as cotton and others.
"But when there is a drought and other natural disasters, farmers survive on traditional tubers, wild species and other locally adapted crops," Dr Maliro said.
"Food aid normally comes late and is not enough, so the poor depend on these local traditional crops for survival. Why not promote them when they are so critical for our own food security?
"We should not impose improved varieties on farmers. Food security is not only about high yields, but is about sustainable production as well in case of unreliable weather conditions and climate change."
Malawi has lost a number of local crop varieties due to neglect, erosion of local indigenous knowledge systems, promotion of improved varieties, lack of incentives for locally adapted crops and other factors.
"People in Malawi used to grow a lot of sorghum and other small grains, but today you don't see the crops. You rarely see pearl millet and finger millet, you rarely see farmers growing the crops," Dr Maliro said.
He said agricultural research institutions, governments and NGOs need to promote the growing of sorghum, millets, bambara nuts, locally adapted varieties of cowpeas (nseula or khobwe), beans (mphodza -mung bean) and other wild crop relatives.
"The mphodza bean is there in the villages, but no research is being done nor any work to support farmers to grow it on a bigger scale.
"Only the elderly people have the knowledge of these crops that Malawi is fast losing.
"The young generation and our curricula in colleges and universities must be overhauled to promote indigenous food crops which are critical with this looming climate change crisis.
"If we don't anything to change our attitudes and support the farmers to grow these crops, the next generation will starve to death due to the damaging impact of climate change," said Dr Maliro.
"We need to conserve local crop varieties. These are very nutritious and we can use them, for example, cowpeas, to bake bread and fortify bread-making process.
"Roots and tubers are there in villages, but we are doing nothing to conserve them. Africa cannot afford to lose this diversity and the indigenous knowledge ingrained in these food crops."
Malawi and other African countries, he said, should adopt practical steps to promote small grains, roots and tubers to enhance food security, conserve crop diversity and enhance the capacity of smallholder farmers to cope with climate change-related risks.
Agricultural research institutions, he said, need support to scale up training in indigenous crops, crop seed back-up and plant breeding to help Malawi to be food secure in case of drought and other natural disasters.
Given that the majority of poor people in Africa live in villages or rely on agriculture, and that agriculture paves the way for economic growth in the poorer nations, agricultural and rural development remain a major driver for the achievement of Millennium Development Goals which seek to end hunger and extreme poverty.
Environmentally friendly agriculture such as the promotion of the growing of locally adapted indigenous food crops and rural development are key to this effort to attain MDGs by 2015.
The promotion of crop diversity tackles the malnourishment component in food security and helps the poor to escape poverty as they are able to learn, work and care for themselves and their family members.
If crop diversity issues are not addressed fully, hunger and over-reliance on food aid sets in motion an array of problems that perpetuates malnutrition, reduces the ability of adults to work and to give birth to healthy children, and erodes children's ability to learn and lead productive, healthy, and happy lives.
Lack of promotion of crop diversity can undermine human development and the potential of most African countries to attain the MDGs.
Africa, which is home to more than 50 000 known plant species, 1 000 mammal species and 1 500 bird species, is increasingly experiencing major losses of its large and diverse heritage of flora and fauna.
According to the 2007 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation report, there are roughly a quarter million plant varieties available for agriculture but less than 3 percent of these are in use today.
The UN agency is concerned that with disuse comes neglect and possibly neglect of the continent's plant food resources.
FAO further points to another worrying trend -- that modern agriculture is concentrated on a small number of varieties designed for intensive farming.
This, according to the report, has dramatically reduced the diversity of crop plant varieties available for agriculture, leading to accelerated genetic erosion on the continent.
Supporting smallholder farmers to conserve crop diversity wherever possible and greater political commitment is vital to enhance food security in Africa.
This can, at least, help bring the continent a step closer to attaining MDGs by 2015.
Monday, October 05, 2009
Posted 3:20 PM by Tevita
Food Safety training was a big hit with Majuro farmers .
The purpose of the training was to train farmers and their families on how to prepare, preserve and handle food properly (food safety practices). The week-long training program was held from September 14 to 18 and included both theoretical
and application sides of food processing and food safety. The first two days of the
training (Monday & Tuesday) were held at CMI’s Land Grant Arrak Campus focusing on Food Safety. From Wednesday to Friday the training was held at the Women’s Training Center in Food Training a Big Hit with Majuro Farmers Delap focusing on Food Processing. While most of the participants were Farmers, there were also representatives from Youth to Youth in Health (YTYIH), CMILand Grant and a few NGOs.
Because of the training’s success and popularity, the Ministry of R&D will be exploring with the SPC Office in Pohnpei about the possibility of having
another one before the end of the year. The training was conducted by Mrs. Mereseini Seniloli, the SPC DSAP Micronesia Coordinator, and Mrs. Apiame Cegumalua, Export Processing and Marketing Officer of SPC’s FACT Project. The Ministry of R&D extends
a big kommool tata to CMI and to the Ministry of Internal Affairs for allowing the
use of their facilities.
Republic of the Marshall Islands Ministry of Resources and Development
P.O. Box 1727 • Majuro, Marshall Islands MH 96960
Phone: (692) 625-3206/4020 • Fax: (692) 625-7471
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Uñare Peim
Agrobiodiversity Weblog: For discussions of conservation and sustainable use of the genetic resources of crops, livestock and their wild relatives.