Pacific Community launches two new initiatives vital for food security

Picture: FILE

The Pacific Community (SPC) launched two important regional initiatives early this week. This was the Pacific Seeds for Life (PS4L), and the Support to the Regional Genebank, the Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT).

SPC Deputy Director, Dr Audrey Aumua, in a statement said these initiatives are vital in meeting immediate food security needs of Pacific countries in the face of the pandemic COVID-19 and widespread destruction caused by natural disasters.

“The projects are examples of how we can respond to changing conditions, prepare to build a new level of resilience and achieve our common goals for food secure, healthy Pacific people and sustainable communities,” said Dr Aumua.

“We are grateful for the support from DFAT (Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and MFAT ( New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade), key partners to SPC’s work, for backing these two regional initiatives. These initiatives will not only to improve seed systems in the region but also support in the rapid provision of seeds and seedlings to support member states’ current response plans to COVID-19 and TC Harold.”

CePaCT considered the only regional genebank in the Pacific conserves a wide range of crops for the  region and the world, and is based here in Fiji under the SPC Land Resources Division.  It currently conserves 2,183 accessions of 17 crops  such as taro, yam, sweet potato, potato and  breadfruit.

It also conserves about 70 per cent of the world’s existing taro diversity and considered the world centre for the crop. While Pacific Seeds for Life (PS4L) a project that will run for five years (2020-2024) and implemented by the Manaaki Whenua LandCare Research (MWLR), NZ in partnership with the SPC’s Land Resources Division (LRD)aims to have a  resilient seed system in place to facilitate the access to and availability of quality plant genetic resources at all times for  farmers and growers.

Dr Aumua added that  another important regional initiative, funded by MFAT will be launched in the near future.

This is the “Pacific Awareness and Response to the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle or PARC t, which aims at combating the threats to the coconut industry, a vital industry which over 60 per cent  of the rural Pacific population depend on for livelihoods and food security.

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