Genetic Resources

The GR thematic team contributes to the LRD objectives through facilitating access to both traditional and improved agrobiodiversity. The Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT) is the genebank for the Pacific region. It houses a globally unique collection of taro, conserving diversity for present and future generations. The CePaCT also plays a key role in ensuring that the countries of the Pacific have access not only to traditional diversity but also to improved crops, which can be crucial in the management of pests and diseases, and in securing food production within a changing climate. Crop diversity can also assist countries in taking advantage of market opportunities.

Climate Ready Collection
Wednesday, 19 May 2010 12:49

Funding has been made available by the US government (USD 98,000) and the French Pacific fund (29,500 Euros) for establishing a “climate ready” collection so work has commenced with some preliminary collecting in some countries. However, further funding was needed to ensure that collecting from the countries is extensive and importantly that all the crops and varieties collected can be characterized and virus tested.

This will ensure they can be fully utilized by farmers in the region, and elsewhere, to meet the challenges of climate change.  The climate ready collection consists of crops and varieties of the more-known crops, such as taro, yams and bananas, with desired "climate-ready" traits, such as drought, salt, high temperature, waterlogging tolerance.  In addition, CePaCT is also accessing genetic resources from outside the region, mainly from the International Agriculture Research Centres (IARCs). The IARCs have the capacity to use advanced molecular techniques, enabling them to identify and select for genes controlling stress tolerance. These techniques are especially important for successfully transferring desirable traits from crop-related wild plants into commercial varieties of domesticated species. For example, researchers at the International Tropical Agriculture Institute (IITA) in Nigeria are evaluating cassava in the semi-arid regions of East and West Africa to determine what mechanisms enable the crop to withstand dry spells. Using the tools of molecular biology, the genes for this trait can be identified, which will further enhance the drought tolerance of cassava.