Nutmeg (Myristica fragrance) is a small to medium size tree that produces two spices; the mace and the nutmeg. It was introduced into various government stations; namely Tigak in New Ireland , Murua in Gulf, Orimo in Western, and Bubia in Morobe Provinces by the then Department of Agriculture, Stock and Fisheries (DASF) in the late 50s and early 60s. German settlers planted nutmeg in the Gazelle of East New Britain well before this. The German introductions were planted on a larger scale at Ravalien plantation near Kokopo.
While the origin of the German introduction is not certain, DASF introduced 1,000 seeds from FakFak Minokwari in West Irian , Indonesia , between 1962-63 and distributed them to the stations (Tigak, Murua Orimo, Bubuleta and Bubia). After successful introduction from FakFak some were obtained in 1963-64 from Penang in Malaya. Almost all these materials were sent to Misima, Milne Bay Province. Some were sent to the Lowlands Agricultural Experiment Station (LAES) at Kerevat but all died eventually due to water logging.
Work on nutmeg at LAES dates back to the early 60s and a lot of resources have been put into the evaluation and maintenance of these introductions over the last 5O years. Today at LAES Kerevat, there are two blocks of nutmeg. One was planted in 1963 with materials [Ravalien] from Ravalien plantation near Kokopo. The second block was planted in 1970 with materials [Minokwari] from Tigak in New Ireland.
Based on this data, 14 trees were released by NARI Keravat in March 2004. The releases include four selections from the Ravalian and nine from Minokwari origin. They were identified as KMF1, KMF2, KMF3, KMF4, KMF5, KMF6, KMF7, KMF8, KMF9, KMF10, KMF11, KMF12, KMF13 and KMF14.
Recent adaptive research has perfected a bud grafting technique for nutmeg, something that has not been used in the country. This marks a further major step in the nutmeg improvement programme at LAES. All the releases are available from LAES Keravat and seeds of these selected clones can be distributed to anyone in PNG as improved materials to meet any immediate demand.
Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) is an important fruit tree species in the humid tropics and is a member of the Sapindaceae. Rambutan trees were introduced into PNG mainly in the Bismarck Archipelago before 1929. Subsequent introductions were established in Morobe, Central, West Sepik and Madang Provinces . Much of these introductions have been from seeds at LAES Keravat.
Work on rambutan at LAES dates back to the early 60s. In 1982 a clonal evaluation was assembled from fields and, after 10 years of data collection, three good quality clones (in terms of taste, juiciness, clingstone characteristics) were selected. They are K1, K2 and K6.
Two further introductions were made by LAES. In 1982 seeds from four varieties were introduced and evaluated. In 1992 twelve clones of Asian origin were introduced and evaluated. From the seed line evaluation, two seed-lines are selected and they were NG 8288 and NG 8280. The 1992 introductions have not been evaluated for yield but eight of these are commercial varieties. They all have very good fruit characteristics, and yield well. At present the eight introduced varieties exist on station. The overseas commercial names are; R7, R3, R9, R156, R134, R162, Jitlee and Rupiah. A total of thirteen good quality clones are available at LAES Keravat. They have not been promoted widely mainly because they have yet to be tested outside Keravat.
In March 2004, NARI Keravat released three selections. These selections were based on taste, juiciness, clingstone characteristics and yield. The three releases are identified as KNL1, KNL2 and KNL.
The clones and information on rumbutan are available from the LAES Information Center and other NARI stations.
NARI Keravat is working on a multi-location ACIAR (Australian Center for International Agricultural Research) project that is focused on the domestication and commercialisation of multi-purpose indigenous trees and shrubs for food and other products in PNG, the Solomon Islands and Australia . The PNG component is based at Keravat and is basically a feasibility study looking at the economic potential of galip nut (Canarium indicum). This involves conducting four surveys; a farmer survey, a consumer survey, a sensory analysis in Australia , and niche market testing in Australia.
The goal of the project is to determine the feasibility of developing a strategy and methodology for the parallel improvement of food/nutritional security, and income generating opportunities for smallholder farmers through the domestication and commercialisation of galip nut.
The project will
Galip is only occasionally planted in PNG. Most of the time it appears to be dispersed naturally, probably by birds and fruit bats. The galip trees are therefore largely unselected, of variable yield, and do not grow true to type and grow to become very large forest trees. Selection and deliberate planting probably has been greater in areas of high population densities such as small islands. Harvesting of nuts on tall trees is difficult. Time to bearing of the first crop of nuts is long, usually 7-12 years. Therefore there would be a great potential for crop improvement by agronomic intervention.
Very little agronomic research has been conducted to improve galip in terms of yield, tree size, time to bearing shell thickness, quality, etc. and hence it's potential as a cultivated crop in PNG or elsewhere. The greatest advances in research towards crop improvement and commercialisation of galip have taken place most recently in the Philippines on its Pili Nut (Canarium ovatum Engl). A grafting method has been developed for cloning selected trees for commercialisation. The high yielding clones are produced and distributed to farmers as part of a Government development program. The clones bear early (by year 4) and the trees are smaller in size, which is beneficial for management and harvesting.
Ongoing research at LAES Keravat focuses on vegetative propagation, evaluation and selection of superior crop varieties. Vegetative propagation of galip nut proves to be difficult and LAES continues to test and modify vegetative propagation methods. Very high success has be achieved in marcotting and inarched grafting in the nursery but they have not worked well on established trees.
A total of forty-one trees were initially selected from some 3000 trees aged between 5 and 15 at Vunatung plantation. These trees were selected based on plantation observations. They were reduced to 24 trees after assessing for their nut characteristics. Further selections are expected to be made from some 7000 trees at Vimy plantation in 2005.
Introduced Fruits with potential
Research work on fruit and nuts has always been an integral part of LAES Keravat. The Department of Agriculture and Livestock (formally) and now NARI have invested a lot of resources into introducing and evaluating introduced tropical fruit and nuts. As a result of 75 years of investment, LAES now has probably the biggest collection of both introduced and indigenous fruit and nuts.
The main activities in introducing fruit and nuts have been the maintenance of collections, and propagation and distribution of selected fruit and nuts. LAES has four main fruit and nuts collection blocks over a 25 ha land which hold over 50 introduced and local fruit and nut species.
Some of the introductions have become household food items (paw, mango, guava, five corner and rambutan) while a lot more have yet to gain popularity. LAES collections have some commercial cultivars of promising different types of fruit and nuts.
The introduced fruit and nuts with potential are Rambutan, Durian, Mango, Mangosteen, Five Corner, Abiu and Cashew nut. LAES has 13 good quality rambutan cultivars of which 10 are introduced (commercial) and 3 from local selections. Eight commercial varieties of Five Corner, six selections of durian, seven commercial varieties of mango and eight cultivars of Cashew nut are available. These have not been promoted and distributed widely because they have not yet been tested outside LAES. However, LAES has been distributing planting materials in limited quantities to various interested farmers.
In future, NARI LAES plans to field-test these selected cultivars to determine their suitability in different agro-ecological zones so that farmers are supplied with quality planting materials suited to their localities. The Institute also plans to promote and distribute planting materials through Provincial Resource Centres and Provincial Field Days NARI is planing to host.