Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea Cocoa and Coconut Research Institute
Mr Tore Ovasuru
Karkar Tall (KKT)
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International Coconut Gene Bank, Papua New Guinea
Presentation by Dr Eremas Tade during the 17th COGENT Steering Committee meeting.
Papua New Guinea is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands (the western portion of the island is part of Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua). It is located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, in a region defined since the early 19th century as Melanesia. It is one of the most diverse countries on Earth, with over 850 indigenous languages and at least as many traditional societies, out of a population just under 6 millions.
The PNG Cocoa and Coconut Research Institute established in 1986 is the research arm of the cocoa and coconut industries in the country. The Stewart Research Station of CCRI, located at Murunas in Madang Province, conducts breeding and evaluation studies, as well as agronomy and entomology research. CIRAD has played an important role in the establishment of this research centre providing staff, training, technical assistance and funding. In the 1970s, a number of exotic coconut populations were brought into PNG, initially as planting material. Local populations believe that large but fewer nuts involve less labour while still giving similar copra yield to that from palms with smaller but more numerous nuts.
In 1998, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) establishing the International Coconut Genebank for the South Pacific (ICG-SP) in Papua New Guinea was signed between PNG and IPGRI/COGENT, with the FAO as trustee. The Stewart Research Station hosts the ICG-SP for the conservation, evaluation and use of important germplasm from the South Pacific region. Substantial progress has been made on the establishment of the ICG including land clearing, renovation of the embryo culture laboratory, training local staff, establishment of local and Dwarf accessions. There are currently 41 local Tall, six local Dwarfs and five exotic Dwarf populations in the ICG that are being characterized.
Collaborative Activities between BIOVERSITY/COGENT and Papua New Guinea
1. Capacity Building
a) Technical assistance/expert advice
From 1994 to 2004, 10 specialists visited PNG on eight technical assistance missions including assessing the country’s coconut R&D capability and assist the national programme in identifying common problems and opportunities for network collaboration; identifying a suitable site for the International Coconut Genebank for the South Pacific (ICG-SP); evaluating embryo culture laboratories and training their staff; evaluating COGENT’s germplasm collecting and conservation strategies; assessing the pest risk for the ICG; assisting in the installation of machineries; training in the production of coconut virgin oil, fiber-based products and coconut candies.
b) Training and human resources development
To date, two training activities have been conducted in Papua New Guinea on Production of coconut virgin oil, fiber-based products and coconut candies with 40 local researchers and community members participating.
In addition, six local coconut researchers have undergone staff development training sponsored by COGENT on topics such as the STANTECH; coconut collecting and conservation; coconut data analysis; computer use, documentation and data analysis; coconut embryo in vitro culture techniques; use of the microsatellite kit and dedicated statistical software; coconut cryopreservation; technical writing/ seminar presentation and proposal writing; Statistical Design and Germplasm x Environment Interaction Analysis Training Course; and Coconut embryo culture to improve collecting and safe movement of germplasm.
In 1998, one meeting and one workshop was held in PNG, including the 7th COGENT Steering Committee Meeting in Madang.
2. Research Projects
A total of 12 projects have been carried out in the country, with the PNG Cocoa and Coconut Institute as the implementing agency.
3. Financial Support and Funding
Donor funding support for projects in PNG amounts to US$111,189, mostly from ADB, APCC and DFID; while national government counterpart financing amounts to US$300,371.