South Pacific delegates make history at the International Horticultural Congress
Tuesday, 25 November 2014 11:28
In a first for international horticulture, around 40 delegates - including researchers, female farmers and agribusiness leaders - from the South Pacific islands participated in the ‘International Horticultural Congress’ (IHC) held in Brisbane in August this year. The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), through various ACIAR South Pacific projects, sponsored attendance at the event.

The theme of the 29th Congress was: ‘Horticulture – sustaining lives, livelihoods and landscapes’. According to ACIAR Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development (PARDI) project leader, Associate Professor Steven Underhill (from The University of Queensland - QAAFI), the Congress gave South Pacific participants the opportunity to learn new skills and ideas from leading international experts and to publish their research in the meeting proceedings.

“One of our key partners in the Pacific, The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), had a team of delegates at the event who contributed to IHC abstracts and discussions on increasing food production in the region,” said Assoc Prof Underhill.

A Pacific display organised by Ms Luseane Taufa, Pacific Co-president on the IHC Committee, along with: SPC's Land Resources Division; Australia's Department of Agriculture; and ACIAR showcased a village garden (consisting of mainly tropical crops) to portray the type of village farming that sustains livelihoods in the Pacific.  According to Ms Taufa, participation in the Congress was a ‘defining moment’ for the South Pacific.

“Agriculture is central to our way of lives and for too long we have missed the opportunities that come from sharing our unique abilities and challenges with the world,” said Ms Taufa.

“It was inspiring to witness our people so confidently take part in the 29th Congress, and through their involvement, help to raise awareness of the South Pacific.”

The IHC involved charismatic discussions and academic submissions from 100 countries. Some of the topics covered included the adoption of improved post-harvest techniques, development of protective cropping practices, tapping into marketing opportunities along with many other areas of horticultural research. Presentations and 4,000 abstracts showcased the enormous value to be found among international experts in horticulture science.

Issues raised related to the unique potential of horticulture to impact broadly on modern society in areas of health; prosperity and a sustainable world environment. Pre-congress training sessions covered production horticulture and post-harvest horticulture. Both courses included lectures, field trips, farm visits, and visits to research stations and pack houses.

“I hope the success of this year’s Congress will encourage more South Pacific representatives to attend future global horticultural forums,” said Assoc Prof Underhill.

The 30th IHC will be held in Turkey in 2018.

For more information or to obtain copies of the South Pacific IHC papers contact:

PARDI Communications, Julie Lloyd: M 0415 799 890.
Valerie S. Tuia, SPC Coordinator – Genetic Resources, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

SPC research papers presented at the IHC:

(a) Sustainable conservation and utilisation of bele (Abelmoschus manihot), Pacific indigenous vegetable;
(b) Facilitating access to resilient crop diversity in the Pacific;
(c) Micropropagation of breadfruit (A. altilis) enhanced using a bioreactor system;
(d) Taro networks and seed systems: promoting the use of diversity for crop improvement;
(e) An evaluation of marcotting techniques on breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) variety Balekana ni Samoa for improved multiplication of planting material in Fiji;
(f) Development of cleaner export pathways for taro in Samoa and Fiji;
(g) Adopting agroforestry from improved soil health in the Pacific;
(h) Diamondback moth resistance to insecticides and its management in the Sigatoka Valley, Fiji;
(i) Disruption of Nisotra basselae oviposition to improve pest management on Abelmoschus manihot in Solomon Islands; and
(j) Viruses and their impact on the utilisation of plant genetic resources in the Pacific.