New Quarantine Tissue Culture Greenhouse opens at Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees in Fiji

Suva

A newly built Quarantine Tissue Culture Greenhouse has opened at the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT) this week, allowing for the expanded distribution of cultured varieties of crops and trees that are more resilient to climate change.

Funding of this important scientific facility was provided by the European Union (EU), with SPC overseeing its implementation as part of the Improvement of Key Services to Agriculture (IKSA) project.

The project will also be handing over two smaller greenhouses to the Sigatoka and Seaqaqa Research Stations as well as office furniture and equipment.

Handing over the CePaCT greenhouse, Christoph Wagner, Head of Cooperation at the European Union Delegation for the Pacific said, “The European Union is proud to have supported the IKSA project that has been assisting farmers with practical support. The temperature-controlled quarantine facility is a great example of the continuous provision of practical science-based solutions to increase crop varieties, resilience and improve sustainability of agriculture even in times of climate-change induced pressures on farmers. This will contribute to improving the livelihoods of sugarcane dependent populations, increase income and reduce poverty.”

Speaking on behalf of SPC, Jan Helsen, Director of SPC’s Land Resources Division said: “The Pacific Community is at the forefront of agriculture and forestry research in the region and the opening of this quarantine greenhouse enables SPC to distribute tissue cultured varieties of crops and trees that are more resilient to climate change and more resistant to disease.  This represents a considerable increase in our capacity to produce and deliver.”

CePaCT is mandated to oversee the effective conservation, distribution and utilisation of the Pacific’s main plant genetic resources. Its activities rely on the use of state-of-the-art tissue culture facilities that meet international standards.

Michel Ghanem, Leader of Genetic Resources at CePaCT, highlighted the importance of the new greenhouse to his work saying, “The addition of a quarantine greenhouse increases the ability of the centre to safely handle and expand the number of disease free plants that are climate resilient and disease tolerant. It will also allow for the production of nutrient rich food crops for the welfare of agricultural communities in the Pacific.”

Tissue culture is a collection of techniques to maintain or grow plants under sterile laboratory conditions, which enables production of plants with particular resistance against climate change and disease.  Tissue cultured plants are grown in sterile containers, which enables them to move throughout the Pacific region with a greatly reduced chance of transmitting disease, pests and pathogens. 

Background
The IKSA project has been working to improve and enhance agricultural services to allow sugarcane farmers to increase on-farm incomes by enhancing their supply capacities through assisting with access to seed, seedlings and farm inputs, provision of practical training through farm demonstration plots and communications, and linkages to markets. The IKSA project ends in 2018 and is working closely with the Fiji Government through the Ministry of Agriculture, to strengthen research and extension services and to enhance support services to farmers in Fiji’s sugarcane belt area to cushion the economic and social impacts of the restructuring of the sugar industry.  

IKSA is one of several projects implemented by SPC and financed by the EU in Fiji’s sugarcane belt. These projects are linked to the EU’s Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol (AMSP) programme and aim to help strengthen rural sugar-income dependent communities in response to the EU’s Sugar Price Reform and the adverse conditions in the sugar industry. The AMSP programme is designed to improve the livelihoods of sugarcane dependent populations, increase income and reduce poverty.

Media contacts :
Debbie Singh, SPC Sugar Projects Communications Specialist │ Email: [email protected]
Jonathan Landrey, IKSA Project Manager │ Email: [email protected]
Mohammed Nazeem Kasim, EU Press Officer │ Email: [email protected]

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