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The Islands Regional Centre is based at the Lowlands Agricultural Experiment Station (LAES) at Keravat on the Gazelle Peninsula of the East New Britain Province. It services the agricultural research needs of the five Islands provinces of East New Britain, West New Britain, New Ireland, Manus and North Solomon. The provinces comprise a distinct geographic, ethnic and political area with similar flora and fauna. Characterized by having significant areas of plantation agriculture, particularly cocoa, coconuts and oil palm, there is potential for alternative cash cropping. There are some pockets of high population density areas and typical agricultural problems are found on atolls.
The major research focus for LAES Keravat is on emerging cash crops, fruits and nuts development, including indigenous species, natural resources management, integrated production systems, pest and disease management, poultry development, information and outreach programs and post harvest processing Germplasm collections of food and cash crops are maintained in the field and in tissue culture. An insect collection comprised mainly of crop pests is held for the Islands Region.
A number of Pacific regional projects are currently being undertaken at the station. Research is managed according to Areas of Research Opportunity (AROs) which are influenced by needs and aspirations of farmers and other stakeholders.
These include the following:
Adaptive participatory research is conducted both on station and on farm to test crops and cropping systems in a range of agro-ecological zones with different soil types, climates and altitudes and under farmer conditions.