Organic Pasifika
Home of the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community

Welcome to Organic Pasifika - the website of the Organic and Ethical Trade movement of the Pacific Islands.
‘Organic Pasifika’ arose from the belief of our diverse group of stakeholders that our traditional organic farming practices when strengthened, coordinated and shared will meet the changing needs of our region and peoples and carry us forward into the future.
 

A seed exchange network at BioCalédonia
Tuesday, 01 July 2014 14:47
Farmers who want to adhere to the Pacific Organic Standard have to use organic seeds and plants of appropriate varieties and quality. Biocalédonia recently set up a seed exchange network designed to make it easier to get such seeds. Introduction and explanations:

The Pacific Organic Standard (POS) states that “Operators shall use organic seed and planting material of appropriate varieties and quality. The following exemption will apply until 2013 (this may change depending on difficulties encountered in obtaining organic seeds): if organic seeds, seedlings and planting materials are not commercially available, then conventional seed (not chemically treated), seedlings and planting material may be used. Seeds treated with chemicals shall be used only as a last resort and shall be cleaned of any chemicals before they are brought on to the property.”

Meeting a need

For the moment the selection of organic seeds is extremely limited locally. Such seeds are costly and have disappointing germination rates. This places farmers in a bind. This seed-exchange network pools and preserves local genetic diversity that is adapted to New Caledonia’s soil types and, over the medium term, may help producers offset the import of certain species and varieties.

Listed below are those plant families that are relatively simple to propagate because they have high self-fertilisation levels.

When plants are self-fertilised the new ones have the same gene pool as the seed-bearing plant.

So, seeds from this type of fertilisation will produce the same plants as the one the seeds were collected from.

-          Crucifers (cabbage, turnip, radish, Chinese cabbage)

-          Umbellifers (parsley, carrot, coriander, celery)

-          Composeae (lettuce, chicory)

-          Solanaceae (tomato, capsicum, eggplant/aubergine)

They are stored away from rodents, the most frequent predators, in a dry spot and at constant temperatures, where possible. Small envelope-type paper bags place in iron boxes is the method the Vavilov Institute in Saint Petersburg has been using for the past 200 years  (among others, Vavilov has the largest collection of tomato varieties, with about 7000 !!!)

It is often noted that seeds produced at the place where they are then planted produce better yields than those brought in from elsewhere. This is linked to ecological suitability, a well-known concept in the world of living organisms.

How the network operates

The process begins with voluntary donations from farmers.

These seeds serve as the basis for exchanges.

The borrower must give back twice that amount at harvest so as to increase the stocks.

In each local group across the entire Territory (Bourail La Foa Moindou; Païta; Noumea; VKPP; Houaïlou; Maré; Lifou) one person is in charge of the metal box in which the seeds are stored.

Through a simple system, every producer who is a member of Biocalédonia can have a list of available seeds. So this promotes production diversity, which is an important concept in organic agriculture.

 

Pacific Organics is the key contributor to sustaining our cultures and improving farmer livelihoods, communities, people’s health and the environment in the Pacific.

Organic Pasifika arose from the belief that our traditional organic farming practices when strengthened, coordinated and shared will meet the changing needs of our region and peoples and carrying us forward into the future.