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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced NZ10million in new funding to support the Blue Pacific seed bank and genetic resources at the Pacific Community (SPC) Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT).
As the region’s largest seed bank, CePaCT plays a vital role in conserving the Pacific’s plant genetic resources. It works with Pacific farmers to ensure plant genetic diversity as well as identify varieties that are most resilient to pests and diseases, drought, flooding and cyclones, all of which are presenting growing challenges in the Pacific due in part to climate change.
“Climate change is a major threat to Pacific agriculture, putting our regions food security at risk. This investment will increase the Pacific’s resilience by ensuring our regions seeds and plant materials are preserved and protected for future generations,” said Prime Minister Ardern during a tour of the CePaCT Lab at SPC in Suva today.
Genetic resources are vital components to help sustain food and nutritional security, healthy agroecosystems, and build resilience against climate change.
CePaCT helps coordinate action to ensure Pacific countries and territories have the seeds, crops, and agricultural diversity and resiliency they need for food and nutritional security now and into the future.
“As such the funding will help Pacific farmers to get improved access to the seeds and planting materials that will maintain and hopefully increase their yields despite the impacts of climate change,” said Prime Minister Arden.
This work will further strengthen food and nutritional security for and alongside Pacific countries and territories and serves as a vault for the longevity of Pacific peoples food and crops.
SPC Genetic Resources Programme Leader Logotonu Waqainabete said CePaCT’s role is particularly important under the changing climate conditions, to strengthen food and nutrition security in the Pacific.
“This funding will enable CePaCT to increase our operational efficiencies, enhance our research capabilities and outreach programs to continue to build the resilience of our agriculture and food systems against climate change and in parallel, ensure that our Pacific people consume a diversity of highly nutritious food,” she said.
CePaCT is recognised globally as the World Centre for Taro and other aroids and a central hub facilitating access to Pacific diversity.
This strong commitment to partnership between the New Zealand Government and SPC will provide direct support to CePaCT and the Global Crop Diversity Trust. NZ $5 million announced today will go to The Global Crop Diversity Trust, an innovative and sustainable funding mechanism for the world’s plant genebanks. The Trust has an international investment portfolio of over US$350 million, and it uses the annual investment returns to provide funding to genebanks like CePaCT.
Pacific Community Director-General Dr Stuart Minchin joined Prime Minister Ardern on her SPC visit, which included a tour of the newly opened molecular laboratory, as well as the tissue culture laboratory. CePaCT’s new molecular laboratory, opened by New Zealand Ambassador for Climate Change Kay Harrison in April this year, allows SPC to offer a pathogen diagnostic and genotyping service to the Pacific.
Maryann Lockington, Communications Officer SAFE Pacific, Land Resources Division, Pacific Community (SPC) | [email protected] or (679) 3370733
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