Animal Genetics Report
Thursday, 21 January 2010 13:51
Pig_WallisThis progressive report is compiled in compliance and in accordance to the Letter of Agreement (LoA) for the provision of funds (US$170,000) from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) for the implementation of the Animal Genetic Resources Pilot Project for the South West Pacific Region. 


This progressive report is compiled in compliance and in accordance to the Letter of Agreement (LoA) for the provision of funds (US$170,000) from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) for the implementation of the Animal Genetic Resources Pilot Project for the South West Pacific Region.

SW Pacific Region Animal Genetic Resources Pilot Project
Summary Progressive Report – October 2008

(Progressive report prepared by Nichol Nonga, Animal Production Officer, SPC)

SUMMARY

This progressive report is compiled in compliance and in accordance to the Letter of Agreement (LoA) for the provision of funds (US$170,000) from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) for the implementation of the Animal Genetic Resources Pilot Project for the South West Pacific Region.  It is a requirement in the LoA that the recipient organisation (SPC) shall submit such progressive reports to Irene Hoffmann, FAO and Rome.  This brief summary covers all the major activities of the project and their status:
  • AnGR Workshop in Nadi, Fiji ( 6th – 8th August 2007) Report & Costs
  • Participation of the SW Pacific delegation to the International Technical Conference (ITC) on AnGR at Interlaken,  Switzerland.
  • Establishment of SW Pacific Regional network
  • Seed funding for the AnGR Inventory and Categorisation Project

The report has included the implementation of the AnGR Inventory and Categorisation project to the four participating countries of Fiji, Niue, Samoa and Tonga and the Establishment of the Regional network.  One of the major activities in this project is the collection of blood specimens from samples of pigs and chickens from each country.  The sampling activity was completed at the end of June 2008 and the specimens are being stored at the SPC laboratory for DNA analysis and are awaiting dispatch to the ILRI laboratory in Beijing.

There is a slight delay to the testing of the FTA blood specimens for DNA analysis due to the impact of the Olympics and the Paralympics games with heavy mail security in Beijing.  This has affected the completion timing of the project.  SPC, as an implementing agent requests an extension of 3 months to the duration of the project to cater for the analysis and the receipt of the interpreted results.

A scientific paper is being envisaged to be written on the project activities and its results and this will be done by staff of the Animal Health & Production thematic Group of SPC.

AnGR Workshop, Nadi, Fiji (6th – 8th August 2007)

There were related workshops held at Tanoa Hotel, Nadi, Fiji during the dates from 30th July – 8th August 2007.  The subsequent holding of these two very important regional meetings, the Pacific Heads of Veterinary & Animal Production Services (PHOVAPS) meeting, 30th July – 3rd August 2007, and the Animal Genetic Resources (AnGR) workshop, 6th - 8th August 2007, was a strategy employed by SPC organizers to cut costs.  In fact, the majority of the regional participants who attended both meetings were the same people.   Thus the costs of travel and other items for participation were shared between PHOVAPS and AnGR (see spread sheets attached).

Feed-back on the SW Pacific participation to the International Technical Conference (ITC), on AnGR held in Interlaken, Switzerland on 1st – 7th September 2007.

A total of 3 participants were selected and funded under the AnGR Pilot Project to represent and articulate concerns of the SW Pacific delegation to the ITC conference, in Interlaken, Switzerland  from 1st  - 7th September 2007.  The funding covered airfares, accommodation and per diems.

Reports


Two reports have been compiled for the two activities above, the AnGR regional Workshop Report held at Tanoa, in Nadi, Fiji (6th – 8th August 2007) and the International Technical Conference on AnGR Report ( 1st -7th September 2007) which were prepared by Peter Manueli (SPC Consultant) who has been a keen contributor to the region’s AnGR promotion over many years. These two reports are being attached for your perusal.

1) SWPacific Regional AnGR Workshop Report 2007

2) Consultants Repot on the Interlaken Technical Conference

Establishment of the SW Pacific regional network

The development of this network is seen as an essential tool to promote the sharing of information on AnGR and cerate public awareness of the significance of conserving AnGR for the region.  The AnGR regional network is being done in two segments, the first one being the development of a regional website which is being hosted on the SPC server as part of the Animal Health & Production website and a mailing list “SW Pacific AnGR” (email forum) of all the regional AnGR national coordinators and other interested persons.  The AnGR website is now in the process of being finalised and will be launched later this year.   The website when in full use would make a significant improvement to the awareness of the significance of animal genetic resources in the region.   The AnGR regional mailing list has already been established and has been used in the region. The email listing is regularly being updated for changes and additions.

Animal Genetics Resources Pilot Project

This AnGR inventory and categorisation project funded by the Australian government through FAO is designed at establishing an estimate of the extent of the animal genetic diversity in the region. .   A total of 80 blood specimens were collected from pigs and chickens (40 pigs and 40 chickens) from each the four countries Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Niue of which we collected a total of 320 specimens (table 1. ) on four spots on FTA cards..  These specimens have been collected and are now stored in SPC laboratory ready for dispatching to ILRI (Beijing) laboratory for DNA extraction and analysis.


The field specimen collection from each of the participating countries was completed in June 2008.   Specimen collection from each country involved extensive travels by SPC staff in collaboration with officials of the national agriculture departments.  These field travels were quite challenging as it involved harmonizing travel arrangements to local sampling locations with country staff.  In addition, weather, accessibility and transport irregularities took some negotiating.   In spite of all these difficulties we were able to accomplish the sampling activities.

Blood specimens were collected from samples of pigs and chickens usually from villages.   In the case of pigs, the majority of the native breeds are raised in free range systems and free range animals are usually difficult to restrain, thus we mainly limit our sampling to native breed pigs raised in pens.   The selection of individuals was done by selecting animals that exhibited native breed characteristics.  Sampling of chickens was from free range native flocks. This sampling required the cooperation and payment to villagers to restrain the birds at night for specimen collection the following day.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) laboratory in Beijing has offered to do the DNA extraction and microsatelitte analysis.   The blood specimens are ready for dispatching. ILRI Beijing has advised us to delay sending of the specimens until after the Olympics and the Paralympics in September 2008 due to the stritingent mail security in China during these games.   This has delayed our plan to send the specimens.

The involvement of students doing post graduate studies from the SW Pacific countries has been limited by the fact that the ILRI laboratory extracting the DNA materials is in China and there are no students from the region doing studies there.  However, we have involved one student studying at the University of the South Pacific (USP), Agriculture, Alafua, Samoa, in the recording, collection, and storage of the blood specimens.  We have also trained agriculture, livestock staff and stakeholders in the techniques of animal and bird restraint, collection, preparation, storage of blood specimens for analysis in the four participating countries.  

SPC will put the microsatelite marker findings in the AnGR website which is being established and hosted in the SPC server.  This will allow the public to view the activities, results and other product documents of the project.

A scientific paper on the results and the activities of the project is to be written and this will be undertaken by AHP / SPC staff.   The compilation of the paper relies on the release of the DNA extraction analysis results.

The project duration and extension request

The document stipulated the duration of the implementation of the activities as from 15th July 2007 – 14th July 2008.   The impact of the stritingent mail security in China has affected the timing of the project and it is regretted that although we have completed the implementation of the field activities, we are awaiting advice from Beijing that we can dispatch the specimens for analysis.   In view of this difficulty, we humbly request FAO to consider our request to grant an extension to the project duration of at least four (4) months which would give us ample time to complete the analysis and report the results.

Conclusion


The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) on behalf of the SW Pacific region is most thankful to FAO and the Australian Government for making these much needed funds available for the work of AnGR in the region.   Although small in land mass, these countries cover a huge portion of the world and the potential animal genetic resources is unknown, therefore it will be beneficial for the global AnGR effort if more funds are made available to categorize the animal genetic resources in this region.   The survival of many of these animal species and breeds in this region is threatened by developments, uncontrolled logging operations, population explosion, climate change and discriminatory breeding practices.  Further extension of the project activities to the rest of the Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) would be beneficial to the region.

Acknowledgements


The implementation of this project including the compilation of this progressive report was made possible by the cooperation and commitments of the following people and in particular:
Dr. Kenneth Cokanasiga, Dr. Ian Peebles, Dr. Ilagi Puana, Ms. Merewai Toganivalu, Mr. Andrew Tukana, Ms. Anju Mangal, Mr. Laurence Fooks, Dr. Elva Borja, Ms. Una Vucago, Animal Health & Production Staff of Fiji - Department of Agriculture, Tonga - Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Niue - Department of Agriculture, Samoa Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and Mr. Peter Manueli