Facilitating access to resilient crop diversity in the Pacific
A food secure Pacific in light of climate variability largely depends on sustainable cultivation of improved plant genetic resources for food and agriculture that are easily accessible to farmers. Farmers use conventional propagation methods for replanting, often using the same source of plant material many times. Environmental stresses brought on by climatic, natural and biological disasters often affect the production and quality of planting material. The devastation of traditional food crops by harmful diseases such as the taro leaf blight in Samoa in 1993, revealed that genetic diversity of some major Pacific crops is very narrow. Countries are becoming vulnerable to impacts of climate variability, new pest outbreaks and erosion of diversity hence access to resilient germplasm found in other countries and regions is extremely important. Abundant supply of climate resilient material can be achieved through relevant technology to complement field propagation. Success of in vitro technology combined with the use of temporary immersion bioreactor systems for production of vigorous and sturdier plantlets proved possible in the Pacific. Addressing these challenges with applied biotechnology in facilitating access to improved crop diversity is the role of the Centre for the Pacific Crops and Trees of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community based in Suva, Fiji. The Centre conserves important food crops in perpetuity on behalf of the Pacific islands, sourcing improved diversity from international genebanks by way of global treaties and distributing climate resilient crop varieties to enhance adaptive capacity of countries.
Tuia, V.S., Waqainabete, L.M., Sukal, A.C., Shandil, A.S., Lutu, U., Baiculacula, S., Cakaunitavuki, S., Prasad, R.L., Daveta, U. and Halavatau, S. (2015). Facilitating access to resilient crop diversity in the Pacific. Acta Hortic. 1101, 21-26
micropropagation, climate-resilient, nutrient-rich, disease-resilient, climate change, taro leaf blight, Pacific genebank