The National, Thursday 23rd August, 2012
By JAMES LARAKI
THE Pacific region is rich in plant genetic resources and home to many food crops, green leafy vegetables and fruits and nuts.
However, much of this biodiversity is eroding fast and we must do what is necessary to avoid the loss of this diversity.
Speaking during the closing of a plant breeding training workshop at the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) headquarters last Saturday, NARI training coordinator, Dr Sim Sar said the world appreciates our diversity but it is eroding fast and will continue to do so if we do not attend to it.
Sar, who is also the director of the agriculture systems improvement programme, which is the core business of NARI, called on the participants to apply what they have learnt at the training for the benefit of society. “The onus is now on you with the skills gained to do what you can to maintain and protect our diversity.
This is a serious concern, especially with respect to food crop diversity, and requires immediate attention, as the crops in question are directly responsible for the livelihoods of the majority of our people.
I am sure you all gained the necessary skills and it is important for you to implement what you learnt at this workshop at your respective work places,” Sar added.
He noted that plant genetic resource is the basis for breeding, an important area in science that has been left unattended for a while and called on participants to use the skills gained to do what is necessary and move on with it.
The week-long training facilitated by prominent plant breeder, Dr Davinder Singh, of the University Western Sydney, was part of a series of trainings to improve skills on how to collect, maintain and utilise plant genetic resources to improve agricultural productivity.