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Fiji (Secretariat of the Pacific Community) 

Valerie Tuia

Genetic Resources Coordinator, CePACT Manager
Secretariat of the Pacific Community 


I work at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), a regional organization, based in Suva, Fiji, concerned with the socio-economic development of its 22 Pacific island country and territory members. I coordinate the genetic resources programme within the Land Resources Division, and manage the region's genebank, known as the Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT). The CePaCT has a significant taro collection (over 840 accessions) from the Pacific and Southeast Asia, maintained in vitro. This collection is the result of two projects: the AusAID-funded TaroGen and the EU-funded TANSAO. We receive a long-term grant from the Global Crop Diversity Trust to maintain the taro collection. The Trust is also funding an aroid cryopreservation project. CePaCT is a very active genebank and we distribute taro and other important staple crops (yam, sweet potato, banana, cassava) to all of the Pacific countries and elsewhere. The lab is equipped to index taro and other root crops.

I have worked with most of the edible aroids: Colocasia, Xanthosoma, Alocasia, Cyrtosperma. In the past, in Samoa, I screened varieties for taro leaf blight resistance, bred varieties of taro, and also took part in DNA fingerprinting and virus indexing – programmes led by UQ and QUT, Australia.

Trinidad & Tobago (CARDI)

Gregory Robin
CARDI Representative
Technical Coordinator, OECS
Technical Coordinator, CARDI Roots and Tuber Crops Programme
ISTRC Regional Councillor for the Caribbean
Antigua cell: 1 268 788 6988
Dominica cell: 1 767 616 2715
St. Vincent cell: 1 784 494 2715

CARDI is the only regional agricultural research organisation in the Caribbean. It has twelve country members, and a multidisciplinary team of scientists. Throughout the years, research has been conducted on aroids particularly in the major producing islands. Dr. Gregory Robin is a root crop agronomist working with CARDI for 30 years. He is also the CARDI Representative for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, the Technical Coordinator for the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and Technical Coordinator, CARDI Roots and Tuber Crops Programme. He holds a PhD / MolecularPathology, MPhil / Agronomy / Plant Physiology and BSc / Biochemistry. His specialization has mainly been in Root & Tuber Crops (Yam, Dasheen / Taro, Sweetpotato, Cassava) - Agronomy, Physiology, Pest and Disease control.  Experiences in root crops include: (a)Development of commercially sustainable/year round production system for taro (Colocasis esculenta) in Dominica and OECS; (b) Analysis of key factors causing yam (Dioscorea) anthracnose in Dominica and recommendations for the control of the disease, and (c) Assessment of the impact of variety, time of planting and agro-ecological zones on sweetpotato productivity in the OECS. He is presently working on the development of the cassava value chain in St. Vincent. Dr. Robin is the Caribbean representative on the board of the International Society for Tropical Root Crops (ISTRC), and has been instrumental in training young Caribbean root crop scientist in Proposal Writing, Research Methodology and Intellectual Property Rights. He is the author of at least 20 Root and Tuber Crop publications, including manuals and CD-ROMS.