New greenhouse facility set to increase Pacific plant research and generation

Photo: Governor-General David Hurley and SPC's Land Resources Division Director Karen Mapusua tour the new Quarantine greenhouse - credit: SPC

Australian Governor General David Hurley today opened the new Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT) Biosecurity of Fiji approved Post-entry Quarantine Greenhouse in a ceremony and tour held at the Pacific Community’s Land Resources Division campus in Narere, Fiji. 

The greenhouse, established under a grant agreement with the Government of Australia through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, will provide a number of important functions for Pacific plants and CePaCT plant collections as the region emerges from two years of increasing agriculture and plant genetic challenges due to COVID-19.

The new greenhouse’s main uses will be to support germplasm health testing of CePaCT collections, regeneration activities for conserved crop and tree collections, receipt of new plant imports and carry out scientific research to phenotype plant varieties particularly for different climatic conditions such as drought salinity and waterlogging.

“This facility will increase CePaCT’s current germplasm health capacity by 50 percent,” said Logotonu Meleisea Waqainabete, Programme Leader for Genetic Resources at SPC. “This will be a big boost for guaranteeing the availability of plant materials from the genebank to support farmers that depend on them as we work to secure a thriving agricultural future for the Pacific region.”

In addition to increasing capacities in health testing and greenhouse-based scientific research, the greenhouse will also enable CePaCT to do quality checks for genetic integrity through different regeneration regimes based on scientifically proven standards and protocols. 

The greenhouse, together with CePaCT’s new molecular laboratory opened on the LRD campus the day before, are part of CePaCT’s investment plan to transform the Centre into a resource for agricultural excellence for SPC and its country and community partners. The main aim of the investment plan is to build and strengthen CePaCT’s operational efficiencies and service delivery to advance its core objective of conservation and utilization of plant genetic resources in alignment with international genebank standards.

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