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Pacific Islands meet to build integrated crop management strategies for tuber crops

Specialists in crop protection from various Pacific Island countries learnt about various pest management strategies during a workshop at NARI HQ in Lae from April 18-22, 2016.

The week-long event on “Integrated crop management strategies for root and tuber crops:  strengthening national and regional capacities in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga” was aimed at building capacity in integrated crop management (ICM) on sweet potato and yams in the five Pacific nations.

NARI Director General Dr Sergie Bang, at a brief closing ceremony, thanked the participants to the workshop, saying sweet potato weevil was manageable with various technologies and innovations introduced by NARI and its development partners.

“Recently the country (PNG) experienced drought and most communities were affected but there are a lot of interventions in ensuring that there is sufficient food supply to mitigate climate change and its effects on communities.

"By using different integrated systems or control measures during different times of year, we can control the weevil,” Dr Sergie said.

Dr Bang said climate change was a global issue and smaller island nations in the Western Pacific region are also affected and should work together for the good of its farming communities who depend heavily on agriculture for survival.

Fereti Atu from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in Fiji said although sweet potato is a common tuber crop in the western Pacific region, the sweet potato weevil infestation has really affected cultivation in island communities.

Fereti said the workshop has taught him a lot about the sweet potato weevil, saying information acquired will help support agriculture for island communities to better manage the devastating tuber disease.

“We have also learnt various introduced technologies and innovations and the updated information on sweet potato weevil during the workshop. Although we know sweet potato weevil exists back in our communities, we still lack the know-how in putting control measures against this weevil,” Fereti said.

The workshop was facilitated with support from the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR) through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The event was attended by Maria Ghaku of Solomon Islands Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Anare Caucau and Nitesh Nand of the Fiji Ministry of Agriculture, Aleni Uelese from Western Samoa's Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the National Coordinator for ACIAR Sweet Potato Weevil Project Sione Foliaki, and also representing the Tonga Ministry of Agriculture Food, Forestry and Fisheries; and representatives from NARI, the University of Technology and National Agricultural Quarantine and Inspection Authority (NAQIA).

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