Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Local breadfruit-production technology boosting Pacific industry potential


The news is good for breadfruit farmers in the South Pacific interested in small-scale commercial production. They can now have ready access to high-performing breadfruit seedlings, thanks to new technology and training on how to transplant and establish seedlings generated using a locally-perfected tissue culture system.  

Course participants learn how to transplant seedlings at the
breadfruit training, CePaCT Fiji
The training was conducted at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT) at Narere, Fiji, and involved local Ministry of Agriculture staff, and representatives from private nurseries and Nature’s Way Cooperative. They gained hands-on experience transplanting the sought-after breadfruit seedlings, and also learnt techniques to help ensure transplants successfully establish in the field.

Funded by ACIAR’s PARDI (Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative) project and conducted by CePaCT research technician Arshni Shandil, the training is part of a larger endeavour, known as the Pacific Breadfruit Project, which aims to develop commercial breadfruit production systems for the Pacific Islands.  

Trainees view potted breadfruit seedlings prepared for the
Pacific Breadfruit Project
According to Valerie Saena Tuia, Coordinator of CePaCT’s Genetic Resources, improvements in seed production and the quality of plant material at CePaCT are largely due to the use of a new bioreactor system. The optimised tissue culture methodology produces plantlets that are more vigorous, sturdier, taller and more easily acclimatised in a screen house than plantlets grown under the previous system.

“For the first time in local history, CePaCT is able to produce large volumes of quality breadfruit plantlets for commercial farming,” said Ms Tuia.

“The regional breadfruit industry will benefit from this local service. The quality and production level is comparable to high-performing plant crop industries in more established economies.

“For farmers interested in establishing and managing small-scale commercial breadfruit orchards, this is great news.” said Ms Tuia.
The course included a visit to CePaCT’s regional breadfruit
field collection based in Suva, Fiji
The recent skills training also included a visit to CePaCT’s regional breadfruit genebank collection established with varieties from Samoa, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Fiji and Vanuatu. This collection is crucial to expansion of the local breadfruit industry and is growing with funding support from the Global Crop Diversity Trust and the Australian International Climate Change Adaptation Initiative project.

This latest training helping the industry develop a productive plant-breeding process complements other activities in the Pacific Breadfruit Project, such as increasing farmers’ business awareness.

By Julie Lloyd, PARDI communications

More information:
ACIAR’s Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative (PARDI)  

Contacts:
Valerie S. Tuia, Coordinator – Genetic Resources (email: Valeriet@spc.int)
Julie Lloyd (ph: 0415 799 890)

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