The Pacific Community (SPC) hosted the President of Fiji, His Excellency Major General (Ret’d) Jioji Konusi Konrote at its Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT) facility in Narere, today.
The Centre is the Pacific’s only internationally recognised gene bank and houses over 2,000 accessions, including the largest collection of taro diversity in the world.
Over the past 12 years, the Centre has distributed over 70,000 tissue culture derived plantlets to 51 countries, including 22 Pacific Island countries and territories, including Fiji.
CePaCT also supported the Fiji Government’s response and recovery efforts by supplying planting material to the Ministry of Agriculture in the immediate aftermath of tropical cyclone Winston which devastated the country last year.
During the brief tour of the facility, President Konrote, who was accompanied by Fiji’s Roving Ambassador and High Commissioner to the Pacific Islands, Litia Mawi, had the opportunity to witness first-hand how CePaCT conserves and provides access to the region’s valuable plant genetic diversity.
“SPC is honoured to host His Excellency, President Konrote. Fiji is a valuable member of the organisation and hosts the largest of SPC’s regional campuses,” Pacific Community Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga said.
“The Centre’s location in Fiji ensures close engagement and collaboration with local stakeholders including Fiji’s Ministries of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries, Biosecurity Authority of Fiji for SPC’s work in plant genetics, and support for research undertaken at the Koronivia Research Station,” Dr Tukuitonga added.
SPC, through CePaCT, also provides technical support to Fiji in relation to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which contributes to sustainable food security.
In 2014 the Centre partnered with the Government of Fiji and with Australian assistance to establish the Ministry of Agriculture’s Plant Tissue Culture Lab at the Koronivia Research Station by providing planting material for climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Conservation is the core business of CePaCT which also maintains over a dozen culturally and economically important food crops including banana, breadfruit, cassava, sweet potato and yam.
Formerly known as the Regional Germplasm Centre in 1998, CePaCT was established in 2007 with support from the Government of Australia through the Australian Agency for International Development (AUSAid), the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the European Union.
Lauren Robinson, SPC Media Relations, [email protected] or +679 337 0733
SPC is the principal scientific and technical organisation in the Pacific region, supporting sustainable development since 1947. It is an intergovernmental development organisation owned and governed by its 26 country and territory members.