Genetic Resources

The GR thematic team contributes to the LRD objectives through facilitating access to both traditional and improved agrobiodiversity. The Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT) is the genebank for the Pacific region. It houses a globally unique collection of taro, conserving diversity for present and future generations. The CePaCT also plays a key role in ensuring that the countries of the Pacific have access not only to traditional diversity but also to improved crops, which can be crucial in the management of pests and diseases, and in securing food production within a changing climate. Crop diversity can also assist countries in taking advantage of market opportunities.

SPC project meeting opens in Vanuatu
Thursday, 12 June 2014 11:04

The Director General of Vanuatu's Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Biosecurity, Mr Howard Aru, officially opened an important project meeting at the Vanuatu Agricultural Research and Training Centre (VARTC) at the end of May.

The project – Strengthening the resilience of Pacific agricultural systems to climate change through enhancing access to and use of diversity – is funded by the Benefit-sharing Fund of the Multilateral System of the FAO International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (the Treaty) and implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

SPC, through its Land Resources Division's Food and Nutrition Security Programme, together with the Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees, is implementing the project. This is because SPC's regional role is to provide support to its national focal points in policy matters relating to the Treaty. SPC provides technical support and advice on projects dealing with climate change impacts and plant genetic resources for sustainable food and livelihood security, and works closely with VARTC as a technical partner on the crop improvement aspect of this project. The two-year project will support activities in countries that have ratified the Treaty.

The meeting was attended by participants from Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Palau, Samoa and Marshall Islands. Technical resource personnel and participants from both VARTC and SPC also attended.

Participants discussed pre-proposals to be submitted in response to the call of the third project cycle. They also had the opportunity to share experiences and describe the benefits received since their countries ratified the Treaty. FAO promotional videos were screened to showcase the importance of the Treaty and of sharing plant genetic resources to improve global food security.

In his opening speech, Mr Aru said, 'This meeting is history in the making as we celebrate this project, not only as the first project for the Pacific region that is funded by the Treaty and implemented by SPC, but as a realisation of the commitment by the global community to support activities in developing countries, including those in the Pacific.

'The fund was established specifically to finance projects in developing countries in line with the objectives of the Treaty and in harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity, which supports farmers' efforts to conserve and utilise their plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

'We must also not forget that there are other benefit-sharing measures under the Treaty’s multilateral system, including technology transfer, capacity building and information exchange, all of which are very much needed in our Pacific region.'

'The fund is expected to grow, as more countries ratify the Treaty and more measures are put in place to improve the funding mechanisms. To date, 131 countries are contracting parties to the Treaty, and the number will increase soon, as Marshall Islands is about to officially join. We congratulate and welcome Marshall Islands to the Treaty global community.

'The objectives and activities of this project aim to strengthen the resilience of farming communities to adapt to climate change; to improve national capacity to adapt to biotic and abiotic stresses; and to enhance the utilisation of seeds, plantlets and other planting material at the national and community level.

'Climate change is a reality and our region is very vulnerable to natural disasters. In recent years, many Pacific countries have undergone rehabilitation and recovery programmes after natural disasters: typhoons, mainly in the Northern Pacific; cyclones, like Cyclone Ian that devastated communities in the Ha’apai Island group in Tonga early this year; and floods – Solomon Islands is still trying to recover from the recent flooding that devastated agriculture and displaced a lot of communities,' said Mr Aru.

Mr Aru concluded by saying, 'We would like to thank SPC for leading this technical project, the FAO Treaty for endorsing it, and project country partners and VARTC staff for attending this project meeting. We wish you all a successful meeting.'

For more information, please contact Valerie S. Tuia, Coordinator – Genetic Resources ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or Tolo Iosefa ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), Plant Breeder, SPC LRD; or Dr Roger Malapa ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), Acting Chief Executive Officer, VARTC, or LRD helpdesk ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

Photo captions: Photos by SPC

  1. Mr Howard Aru and participants attending the meeting on Espirito Santo, Vanuatu, 26–30 May 2014
  2. Mr Tari Molisale harvesting a new sweet potato hybrid (short-nodes) bred by  Vanuatu Agricultural Research and Training Centre and is tolerant to sandy conditions
  3. A visit to the main market at Santo to view the coverage of crop diversity