Tratado Internacional sobre los Recursos Fitogenéticos para la Alimentación y la Agricultura

BSF Project - Fourth Cycle

Safeguarding threatened coconut diversity within the upgraded International Coconut Genebank for the South Pacific
Where will we work?
Coconuts contribute to the livelihoods of more than 8 million households in the Asia-Pacific region. In many Pacific islands, coconut diversity is under threat from climate change, sea-level rise and soil salinization, as well as pests and diseases. Despite the contribution of coconut towards food and nutrition security in the Pacific region and the threats it faces, the conservation of coconut genetic diversity has not been taken seriously enough. While there exists a regional collection, the International Coconut Genebank-South Pacific (ICG-SP) in Papua New Guinea (PNG), not all coconut varieties are represented therein, and Bogia Syndrome (a lethal plant disease) threatens the collection. Coconut genetic diversity is in urgent need of adequate conservation to ensure availability for future food and nutritional security as well as for adaption to climate change.

What will we do?
  • Identify local coconut varieties across the participating countries;
  • Collect and transfer embryos to the Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT) of the Pacific Community (SPC);
  • Culture coconut in vitro;
  • Establish new coconut field genebanks in Fiji, PNG and Tonga in close partnership with national partners;
  • Share in vitro coconut cultures with the new field genebanks following pathogen testing;
  • Train technical staff in identification, characterization, coconut embryo isolation, coconut conservation and coconut breeding techniques;
  • Train scientists in in vitro techniques for coconut germplasm, such as embryo culture, somatic embryogenesis and cryopreservation.

What is expected to be achieved?
The project will safeguard Pacific coconut genetic diversity from imminent biotic and abiotic threats while improving knowledge and skills in coconut biotechnology and conservation, ultimately ensuring a more stable future for coconut breeding and coconut-based livelihoods in the Pacific region.
Capacities will be built at both national and regional level on coconut genetic resource identification, characterisation, in vitro culture and safe transfer of coconut genetic resources. Transfer of coconut germplasm from the International Coconut Genebank-South Pacific to Samoa, Fiji and a new Bogia-free site in PNG, will not only safeguard the collection, but also make the germplasm accessible to other countries. The establishment of these three new sites will ensure effective conservation as well as enable multisite evaluations for the identification of varieties with useful traits. Following project implementation, the conserved coconut diversity will spark further research and increase sustainable use in the project countries and beyond.

Who will benefit?
This project will directly benefit 30 members of the scientific and agricultural community in the three target countries with over 50% of beneficiaries expected to be female. A large number of farmers will also benefit from the project by receiving coconut germplasm. Considering the communal nature of the Pacific farming system, it is envisaged that this diversity will be further shared in each of the partner countries and build farmers’ resilience by supporting the selection of the best cultivars for production and climatic conditions. Ultimately, the project is envisaged to benefit not only the 9.2 million inhabitants of the target countries but the world population as a whole, as this important and versatile crop will be effectively conserved and available for use.
Taro and Yams
Region: South West Pacific
Target Countries: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa
Implementing institution: The Pacific Community (SPC)

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