International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

BSF Project - Fourth Cycle

In situ Conservation and Utilization of Sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) and Taro (Colocasia esculenta) for Climate Smart Agriculture Vulnerable Farmers in Papua New Guinea
Where will we work?
Sweet potato is the most important staple food of special cultural significance for the indigenous people of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Genetically diverse, sweet potato provides nutrition and income. The high level of dependence on this crop and the concomitant responsibility to conserve the diversity of its genetic resources raise much concern in a time of alarming climate change.
This Benefit-sharing project will build resilience of vulnerable farmers in four provinces of PNG through the introduction of elite varieties of sweet potato and the promotion of in situ conservation and sustainable use of sweet potato genetic diversity.

What will we do?
  • Evaluation, characterization and participatory breeding of sweet potato, including documentation of cultivars used in the study;
  • Re-introduce locally adapted varieties, dissemination of improved varieties;
  • Targeted capacity building of producers, scientists and technical staff;
  • Strengthen national information systems for plant genetic resources and contribute to the Global Information System.

What is expected to be achieved?
Food crop production in PNG being a traditional domain of women, improved capacity of making use of traditional resources will empower women in providing nutrient-rich food for their families as well as open up income generating opportunities. This project will re-introduce, conserve, and disseminate a total of 650 locally adapted varieties with farmers’ participation. Over 160 sweet potato cultivars will be characterized, phenotyped, evaluated, documented, and pre-bred for traits of importance to adaptation and resilience. In addition 20-30 sweet potato cultivars will be developed and transferred to the regional germplasm bank at the Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT).
The project will build significant capacity amongst scientists and technical staff of genetic resource institutions by improving their germplasm development skills.
Two scientific publications on participatory breeding and in situ conservation as well as technical publications on sweet potato seed systems will be produced. Moreover, the implementation of the project will strengthen consortia of Treaty stakeholders collaborating to enhance the implementation and visibility of Treaty activities.

Who will benefit?
The main beneficiaries of this project will include up to 250 participating farming households (50% men and 50% women). A further 400 farming households will benefit indirectly. Other direct beneficiaries are up to 60 pupils (50% boys and 50% girls) from primary schools in the target sites who will be participating with their science teachers in the participatory plant breeding activities. Moreover, 19 researchers, university students and extension agents as well as seven crop researchers, five Rural Development Officers, and five agriculture/science teachers will benefit from capacity building in the use of participatory breeding and selection, and in situ germplasm management of sweet potato. Additionally, one MSc in Agriculture student will complete their degree studies and two undergraduate students will receive training in line with the project objectives.
Sweet potato
Window 2 - Immediate action projects
Region: South West Pacific
Target Countries: Papua New Guinea
Implementing institution: Papua New Guinea Agriculture Research Institute

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