Experts meet on safe exchange of genetic resources in Western Pacific

Protocols and procedures for the safe exchange of Plant Genetic Resources (PGR) between three Western Pacific countries were reviewed and refined by stakeholders from PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu during a workshop at Bubia in Lae, Morobe Province, from February 5-7 2013.

The three day workshop was organized by the PNG National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) to encourage material transfer of genetic resources for the purposes of food security, research and breeding but within the limits of the required quarantine and legal frameworks. And such frameworks, agreements and practices were discussed and reviewed with countries giving status reports on quarantine and intellectual property rights issues involved in PGR exchange.

wokshop group photo2

Group photo of workshop participants

More than 20 participants including senior executives, subject matter experts, research managers, legal experts and policy makers from quarantine authorities, research and development organizations, representatives of government and non-government organizations from the three countries attended.

Among them were NARI Director General Dr Raghunath Ghodake; NARI Council Chairman Dr John Kola; Managing Director of National Agricultural and Quarantine Inspection Authority, Andrew Yamanea; Solomon Island Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock’s (MAL) Permanent Secretary, Frank Wickham; MAL Quarantine Director Francis Tsatsia; Vanuatu’s Director General for the Ministry of Agriculture, Quarantine, Forestry and Fisheries (MAQFF) and MAQFF’s Quarantine Director Benuel Tarilongi.

The workshop ended with the development of a draft Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) document for the exchange of PGR materials between the three countries. The draft was accepted by representatives who participated in the workshop. The participants also developed a better understanding and appreciation of issues and procedures on the MTA, knowledge gap, facilities, intellectual property rights, international treaties, quarantine, pathogen testing, and other critical inputs during the meeting.

Other organizations that participated were the Business Council of PNG and Intellectual Property Office (PNG); Ministry of Environment and Conservation (Solomon Island); Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Vanuatu Agriculture Research and Technical Centre (Vanuatu). Biosecurity experts from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community also attended to share their experiences on PGR material cleansing and transfer between Pacific countries and international partners.

The workshop was part of a project on “Capacity Development in Conservation and Utilization of Invaluable Plant Genetic Resources in Western Pacific Countries”, under the EU financed Africa-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) Science and Technology Programme. The project is designed to enhance the human resource capacity in PGR collection and maintenance, characterization and evaluation, conservation, pre-breeding techniques and procedures, screening and evaluation and finally utilization of PGRs in crop breeding. It is part of three ACP projects undertaken in the three countries to build the human resource capacity needed for high caliber agricultural research in the Western Pacific region to enhance productivity, efficiency and sustainability of the smallholder agricultural sector.

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