|SPC deserves worldwide recognition|
|Thursday, 10 May 2012 13:38|
Edible Aroids Network (INEA www.ediblearoids.org) project that started in April 2011, through its Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT), a Pacific Genebank based in Fiji, has made huge impact worldwide by providing over one hundred selected taro (Colocasia esculenta) varieties comprising over 6,500 plantlets to so many different INEA member countries in Africa, Europe, Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific in such a short span of time from June to November 2011. INEA is a worldwide consortium of scientists and growers who are using edible aroids as a model to improve clonally propagated crops of the tropics. SPC’s mandate in the INEA network aimed to improve food security and income of the world’s poor, was to provide the initial germplasm of fifty different varieties or genotypes to each of the fifteen INEA member countries namely Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and Vanuatu for broadening their genetic base through breeding with their local germplasm. All superior hybrids selected with good characteristics and resilient traits to extreme climatic conditions will be shared amongst all members of the network including the Pacific through the CePaCT. Any relevant technologies will also be transferred and capacity building provided. Additional taro and xanthosoma accessions were also provided to two Research Institutes of two INEA countries (Germany and Portugal) for scientific studies on viruses and drought.
Dr Lebot, CIRAD/INEA Project Scientific Coordinator in his message to the EU/INEA network, “This is an amazing achievement by SPC and not many Germplasm Centres on this planet can achieve such a fantastic job in such a short time. SPC’s Valerie S. Tuia, Mary Taylor and CePaCT team have succeeded to do it smoothly and with high professional skills, deserve worldwide recognition and acknowledgement. Congratulations and thanks to SPC”.
CePaCT is housed under the Land Resources Division, is an SPC investment established in response to the Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Meeting (HOAFS, 1996) recommendation to help countries address food and nutritional security as well as improving resilience of the countries to climate change through the use of crop diversity. The importance of sharing genetic diversity and to have access to diversity outside the region, Pacific countries through SPC have agreed to place Annex 1 regional crop collections held in trust by SPC CePaCT into the Multilateral System (MLS) of the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). In June 2009, , then Samoan Agricultural Minister Hon Taua Kitiona Seuala,, on behalf of Pacific Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry signed the agreement at the 3rd Session of the Treaty Governing Body. Any germplasm exchange and distribution from SPC has to be accompanied by the Standard Material Transfer Agreement provided under the ITPGRFA.
SPC is also a current recipient of a long term funding by the Global Crop Diversity Trust (the Trust) recognizing CePaCT as one of the Worlds Genebank Centre for conserving a unique in vitro global and largest collection of Pacific and Asian taro and other germplasm from around the world. SPC is the first non-CGIAR Centre to have received this funding from the Trust. SPC’s global taro collection comprises of taro initially established under the 5-year regional project by the AUSAID Taro Genetic Resources: Conservation and Utilisation (TaroGen) that began in 1998 as a result of taro leaf blight outbreak (TLB) in Samoa in 1993 which has led to increased genetic erosion of taro resources and vulnerability of other Pacific island countries to TLB. Through importance of SPC networking and sharing of germplasm, the EU Taro Network for the South-east Asia and Oceania (TANSAO) enabled the Pacific countries to access new diversed genepool of Asian taro with tolerant traits to TLB, and through breeding programs in Samoa and Papua New Guinea, produced new TLB lines that helped Samoa restored their food security. These new TLB lines progenies of Pacific and Asian parentage are widely distributed within the Pacific for evaluation and now shared amongst the members of the INEA network. The recent outbreak of TLB in Africa has prompted SPC to provide TLB resistant taro lines to help restore food security in these parts of Africa which has seen the Pacific through SPC reaching out to make an impact worldwide. SPC received four additional requests from Haiti, Cameroon, Guadeloupe and DR Congo after witnessing good performance of the TLB lines in INEA countries.
The impact of SPC work has led to new collaboration established between the Pacific and the Caribbean through the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) on strengthening crop diversity research. SPC continues to receive new taro collections under the Trust global crop regeneration project and the collection now comprises of over 1,000 accessions of taro and other edible aroids as well as maintaining collections of yam, sweet potato, cassava, banana, kava, breadfruit, vanilla and some tree species. The activities of the Centre have expanded dramatically over the years taken on board new projects encompassing climate change adaptation. The Centre also houses a virus indexing laboratory which enables SPC to distribute new diversity to the Pacific and SPC partners including its climate ready collection. With funding by AusAid climate change project, CePaCT is actively working closely with the Pacific countries in evaluating climate ready crops of taro, banana, cassava, swamp taro, sweet potato, cassava and yam which have been indentified to have tolerance to drought, salt, waterlogged, windy conditions and acid soils.
Photo caption: "SPC Taro performed well in Ghana compared to local taro" : -- Photographer: L.M. Aboagye