29 Dec 2003

Duplication of gene bank varieties underway says Professor in Samoa

4:08 pm on 29 December 2003

The head of a duplicate gene bank in Samoa, which is storing crops to ensure future food security, says they've now received most varieties of taro.

But, Professor Alfred Ebenebe, who's the head of agriculture at the University of the South Pacific campus in Alafua, says they're still waiting for other staple crops to arrive.

He says varieties of sweet potato, cassava and maize are still to come from the original collection in Suva to ensure a backup.

"The main purpose of the gene bank is to ensure future food security if the plant gets lost in those countries. Another thing is also to do some research into breeding of those crops, trying to get new and better varieties so research is a very important aspect of the gene bank."

Professor Alfred Ebenebe says following research a new variety of taro is now being planted which is resistant to taro leaf blight which destroyed many plants recently.

He says that enabled Samoa to begin exporting taro again.