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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Thursday, January 07, 2010
Posted 5:59 PM by Tevita
AGRICULTURE: KASTOM GADEN AT A CROSSROAD
From : Island Bussiness
Better farms, better income
The dozen or so men and women sitting at the rough-hewn tables in a large leaf hut in Honiara pondered their worksheets, sketched pictures of crops, trucks, ships and markets, and carefully answered their questionnaires on value chains and cost reviews.
Earlier that morning, Heiko Bammann, an Enterprise Development Officer based in Rome with the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation, had impressed upon this group of Solomon Islanders the link between better farms and better income, sharing information, and pinpointing every step taken from seed selection to final sale.
“What do farmers need?” Bammann had asked before detailing farmer-driven success stories in Papua New Guinea, Thailand and India. “They need to know what the market needs! They need to get their produce to the market!”
Welcome to the new Kastom Gaden Association. Or, rather, the new role this Solomon Islands NGO is fashioning for itself.
No longer just a resource to help its members get the best use of seeds, soil, crops and yields, KGA now emphasises marketing and sales margins as well.
And no wonder: with Solomons’ food trade recently estimated by the AusAid-supported Community Sector Programme at $800 million, and the country’s population due to double in the coming decades to 1.1 million, the demand for food will be increasing—along with the chance to profit from it.
At the two-day Value Chain Workshop last September—at which four provinces were represented—Kastom Gaden began implementing this new approach of getting farmer-members to regard their plots of land as a business. And themselves as not just producers but entrepreneurs.
As FAO’s Bammann made clear: “The farmer has to be at the center of it all.”
Founded in 1994 as a project of APACE, an Australian non-governmental organisation, 2009 marks 10 years since Kastom Gaden became one of this country’s first local NGOs.
Tasking itself with “promoting self-reliance”, Kastom Gaden has made “improving the lives of rural people” its direct if daunting mission.
And although the means by which Kastom Gaden seeks to achieve its goals—“strengthening food security and sustainable livelihood development”—echo mission statements adopted by other such players, what sets Kastom Gaden apart is its focus at the village level, what Tony Jansen, a founder of, and now an advisor to KGA, calls “our farmer-to-farmer approach.”
Johnson Ladota, a Taro farmer from northern Malaita who has worked with KGA since 2003, bears this out. When the Value Chain Workshop ended, he looked forward to spreading the word on entrepreneurship to the highlands.
Painful but necessary: “I see the chain,” Ladota said, “I see the market in a new way now. It is a new challenge for us, another challenge, but we can do it. We will organise ourselves.”
In its own way, Kastom Gaden has faced its own challenges and has organised itself as well.After recently experiencing what co-founder Jansen calls a “painful but necessary” re-structuring that did away with a fragmented “to-and-fro” management approach, KGA is now in a position where it can “make the projects fit the structure and not the other way round”.
Still, just as its members must now take on an entrepreneurial role to improve their incomes, so too must KGA to ensure its own future.
In its 15 years of existence, Kastom Gaden has grown from having a few hundred farmer-members and a handful of staff, to now having over 2000 members and a staff of 22.
In addition, it has 10 partner organisations in five Solomons provinces, works with the S.I. Planting Material Network, is a member of the Melanesian Farmer First Network, publishes newsletters, offers a library service, broadcasts nationally a weekly radio show—and has a budget of SB$4 million.
Although Kastom Gaden has had a long relationship with Australia’s Agency for International Development—AusAid funded the Australian NGO that established Kastom Gaden, and is currently KGA’s major donor. Both sides recognise the risk of being overly dependent on one source of funding, what Paul Greener, a Honiara-based AusAid Rural Development Advisor, calls a “moral hazard.”
Simply put, if an organisation wants to make the leap from being a donor project to becoming a social enterprise, it needs to broaden its funding base and open itself to various means of income.
In regards to Kastom Gaden, such possibilities exist. KGA could pursue having a range of donors, with KGA’s Clement Hadosaia mentioning New Zealand and the European Union as potential candidates, along with Oxfam and the ICCO, both of which recently funded projects with them.
Community Sector Programme Agricultural Livelihoods Advisor Grant Vinning cites successful marketing efforts by peanut, vegetable, and fruit growers, in particular a man known as Patterson the Pineapple Seller, who successfully covers his transportation costs by selling to shops, thereby making his sales at Honiara’s Central Market pure profit.
“Solomons farmers are entrepreneurs-in-waiting,” Vinning says, adding, “Food Security is not just about growing food, but having the money to buy food.”
KGA has bolstered its once vibrant, then faltering, fresh fruit and vegetables delivery business, “Farm Fresh”, by having Jennifer Kellie, a Honiara businesswoman who also runs a successful dried fruits company, take charge.
Indeed, KGA co-founder Jansen, sees the possibility of Kastom Gaden “incubating” other such businesses and then spinning them off to KGA members, with Kastom’s Hadosaia suggesting poultry, seedlings and seeds as likely candidates.
Hadosaia doesn’t seem too worried about his organisation’s future down the line.
“We’re serious about sustainability,” he says. “There are plenty of possibilities and we are exploring them as ways for us to make money.”
Hopefully Hadosaia’s take will turn out to be a case of well-placed confidence, and not of complacency.
It would be a shame if KGA’s less than perturbed outlook turns out to be an instance of so-called “Last Match In The Box” thinking, when a problem is only dealt with once it’s upon you, i.e. once you’ve run out of matches, run out of options.
Ideally, KGA will market itself successfully to a range of donors, foundations, even private companies; build up its Farm Fresh enterprise and spur others; complement even further its work with the Ministry of Agriculture.
Ideally, in other words, KGA has been going over its equivalent of a Value Chain.
Posted 12:59 PM by Tevita
Source : Crops for the Future
From Robert Freedman, Tucson, Arizona:
I am doing ethnobotanical research on a little-known category of underutilized plants – Specifically, the data I am coordinating documents food plants used throughout the world, during periods of drought-induced famine and food scarcity. These data are accessible, on the Web, at: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/FamineFoods/ff_home.html
My intention, in coordinating these data, is to provide a resource, of proven drought-resistant food plants, some of which, because of known high nutrient content, have a potential for improvement, that would make possible the development of new crops, for populations relying on non-indigenous and environmentally at-risk spp.. This idea is articulated further, on the Web, at ‘Notes on the Famine Food Web Site’: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/FamineFoods/faminefoods.html
Based on what is known of those famine food plants, which have been analyzed in the laboratory, these data also provide a large corpus of spp.., still in need of nutritional analysis, to ascertain which may have nexpectedly high nutritional values and thereby become candidates for growth trials and selection. I would like to contact other specialists, who have an interest in arid land subsistence; and development of underutilized food plants. If you could suggest any individuals and organizations whom I can contact, I will be most appreciative.
For more information please contact Bob Freedman at email@example.com
Posted 12:19 PM by Tevita
American Samoa : Governor establishes Food Policy Council by executive order
From : Samoanews
By Fili Sagapolutele firstname.lastname@example.org
Through an executive order, Gov. Togiola Tulafono established the American Samoa Food Policy Council, which will advise the governor on all aspects of the food system in the territory.
Creation of the council comes on the heels of the “ASIASIGA: a Conference on Food Security in American Samoa” held in February this year in which several issues were discussed including the direction of the future of food security and self-reliance in American Samoa.
It was at the conference that participants supported the establishment of the council because there is a need to strengthen food security in American Samoa. Given the territory’s vulnerability to risk factors related to the Territory’s geographic isolation, the limited opportunities to expand export earnings, declining land available for agriculture, the price of oil and dependency on imported food, it was considered essential.
According to the governor, a territorial food policy that is designed to produce a safe, sufficient, and nutritious food supply must also balance economic, environmental, political and social considerations important to the people of the Territory.
Additionally, there is a need for a lead entity to give sustained attention to food and nutrition issues in a comprehensive manner.
The executive order states that the council advises the governor on all aspects of the food system in American Samoa with the overall objective to advise on the critical issue of access to good nutrition for all the people of American Samoa under all conditions.
Such advice shall include the territory’s baseline agricultural and fisheries production output; vulnerability of the Territory to food and nutritional insecurity because of the many risk factors; importance of food safety; the need to stockpile food supplies and seeds of essential crops; and the need to identify gaps in the territory’s emergency preparedness with respect to food security.
Additionally, rates of non-communicable diseases in American Samoa and their link to food and nutrition; strategies to promote local foods and engage young people; and the importance, in connection with food security, of protecting and maintaining our natural resources such as water quality, soil conservation, forestry health, air quality, and coral reefs will be included.
The council membership shall include, at the Governor’s discretion, the directors or their official designees from the American Samoa Community College (represented by the Director of the Land Grant program), the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources, the Department of Health, the Department of Commerce, the President of the American Samoa Farmers’ Co-operative, and the Governor’s Senior Policy Advisor.
Within the Council are seven working groups: Basic Food Supplies; Nutrition and Health; Special Needs; Food Safety; Emergency Preparedness; Legislation group; and Monitoring and Reporting. The executive order outlines the functions of each working group.
Each group’s jurisdiction may be construed broadly enough to allow for the inclusion of other issues related to the group’s purview and to ensure that each issue is properly addressed, according to the executive order, adding that members may be drawn from the community in accordance with any special interests.
DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
The director of the Land Grant program chairs the council, who elects their vice chair. Staff of the departments cited as council members are to provide support staff for the council, who shall ensure that it provides an effective forum for diverse stakeholders to work together to create positive changes in the local food system. They will do so by seeking common purposes, fostering collaborative decision making, sharing information whether in printed or electronic formats, adopting integrated approaches to local issues, and maintaining appropriate cultural sensitivity.
The council shall issue advisory reports to the Governor, upon request by the Chief Executive and no less than twice a year, on the first Monday of every June and December.
On behalf of the governor’s office, the council shall issue an annual summary report to the Legislature and Judicial branches. The council will, as needed, liaise with the Legislative and Judicial.
The order also states that the council shall identify specific roles that non-governmental organizations, private sector entities, and community entities can play in partnership with the Government with respect to the design, implementation, and evaluation of policies and strategies.
It can also explore cooperation with regional, national and international organizations in support of council goals.
Posted 12:13 PM by Tevita
Socioeconomic Obstacles to Establishing a Participatory Plant Breeding Program for Organic Growers in the United States
From : Sustainability 2010, 2, 73-91
Ruth Mendum and Leland L. Glenna *
Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA; E-Mail: email@example.com
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel.: +1-814-863-8636; Fax: +1-814-865-3746.
Received: 3 November 2009 / Accepted: 24 December 2009 / Published: 29 December 2009
Proponents of participatory plant breeding (PPB) contend that it is more conducive to promoting agricultural biodiversity than conventional plant breeding. The argument is that conventional plant breeding tends to produce crops for homogenous environments, while PPB tends to be directed at meeting the diverse environmental conditions of the farmers participating in a breeding program. Social scientific research is needed to highlight the complex socioeconomic factors that inhibit efforts to initiate PPB programs. To contribute, we offer a case study of a participatory organic seed production project that involved a university breeding program, commercial organic seed dealers, and organic farmers in the Northeastern United States. We demonstrate that, although PPB may indeed promote agricultural biodiversity, several socioeconomic obstacles must be overcome to establish such a program.
Keywords: agricultural biodiversity; socioeconomic context; plant breeding
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Posted 1:02 PM by Tevita
International Year of Biodiversity
From : http://www.countdown2010.net/year-biodiversity
The UN declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB). Throughout the year countless initiatives will be organized to disseminate information, promote the protection of biodiversity and encourage organizations, institutions, companies and individuals to take direct action to reduce the constant loss of biological diversity worldwide.
Countdown 2010 works at governmental level by monitoring countries’ responses to the 2010 Biodiversity Target and at local level by mobilising local actors that take concrete actions. In only a few years of activity, Countdown 2010 has been able to mobilize an increasing number of actors ranging from local authorities and businesses to civil society organizations. With a powerful network of more than 900 Partners, Countdown 2010 is one of the leading initiatives mobilizing action for the 2010 Target.
Through its wide and well-established network, Countdown 2010 will be a key global actor for IYB in Europe and around the world. Countdown 2010 Partners will provide one of the main information channels and will be a major vehicle for reaching target groups worldwide.
Objectives of IYB
Raise awareness of the importance of conserving biodiversity for human well-being and promote understanding of the economic value of biodiversity
Enhance public knowledge of the threats to biodiversity and means to conserve it
Engage an increasing number of people
Celebrate the achievements by governments and Countdown 2010 Partners
Report on possible failures to achieve the Target
Use momentum to trigger even more action for biodiversity
Begin to communicate the post-2010 target(s).
Countdown 2010 celebrates IYB
Countdown 2010 is organising a number of events to bring Partners together to coordinate their actions, events and messages for the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB) in 2010. Among the numerous initiatives planned for next year:
2010 Success Stories. Countdown 2010 Partners’ achievements in biodiversity conservation will be featured in a series of “2010 Success Stories” which will be featured in multimedia formats on the Countdown 2010 website.
Key international events. Countdown 2010 will participate in key international events and organize several events on the 2010 Target and the post-2010 framework. It will also actively support the Secretariat of the CBD (SCBD) for its events and the celebrations of international days in 2010. Countdown 2010 will be present at, among others:
Launch of IYB by COP 9 President, Berlin, Germany in January
Opening of the IYB, launch of the UNESCO exhibition, Paris, France in January
Trondheim conference, Norway in February
FIFA World Cup, South Africa in June
United Nations General Assembly, New York, USA in September
10th Conference of the Parties, Nagoya, Japan in October
Closing of the IYB, Kanazawa, Japan in December
2010 Biodiversity Year Schedule of Events. Countdown 2010 hosts a calendar of events happening in 2010 and beyond. The calendar will be linked to the SCBD calendar and will focus on public awareness events organized by partners and other stakeholders.
2010 Communications. Special publications and promotional merchandise will be produced for IYB. A targeted Ambassadors programme will be developed in cooperation with Partners. A mass action promoted by Countdown 2010 through its Partners will seek to engage people beyond the environmental community.
Engagement with business. Special projects will be developed with the Countdown 2010 business Partners. In addition, companies will be asked to undertake a specific 2010 commitment for biodiversity.
Mobilizing local authorities. Several events on local authorities’ contribution to the 2010 Target and post-2010 framework will be organized in partnership with Countdown 2010 Partners.
Global action for IYB. Countdown 2010 Multiregional Hubs in South America, Africa and Asia are planning their celebrations for IYB. They will replicate some of the initiatives carried out at European level and undertake several more of their own.
Days to the end of 2010
Agrobiodiversity Weblog: For discussions of conservation and sustainable use of the genetic resources of crops, livestock and their wild relatives.