Our focus is to allow smallholder farmers to have access and use of suitable quality planting materials, breeding stock and other farm inputs that they may require. We support on-going breeding programs using conventional breeding techniques to develop new varieties of important staple crops such as taro (Colocasia esculenta) and sweet potato (Ipomea batatas) varieties. Our crop improvement component also looks at mutation breeding protocols to improve drought, frost and salinity tolerance of a number important food crops.

The following are our indicative focus of project portfolios under the seed systems:

Management of generic resources improved (collection, conservation, evaluation of plant and livestock genetic resources)Improved crop varieties developed (breeding of important selected crops using conventional breeding and biotechnology methods supplemented by molecular technologies)
New appropriate crop species and varieties and livestock breeds introduced, evaluated and adapted Formal and informal seed systems established or improved for priority crops and breeding centres for livestock Price support systems for farm inputs (fertilizer, pesticides) explored and strategies implemented to increase production of local inputs

Release of taro lines

A highlight in 2017 was the pre-release of four Taro varieties. This work was part of an international collaboration with partners from the Pacific, South-East Asia, Africa, Europe and Central America and supported with a grant from the European Union. Further information on the International Network of Edible Aroids can be found at www.ediblearoids.org. The four varieties were released during the 2017 Annual Innovations Show.

The varieties originate from the Samoan and PNG Taro breeding programs, respectively and were evaluated through a participatory approach involving eleven communities in Madang, Morobe, Eastern Highlands and East New Britain Provinces and made recommendations based on yield, resistance to diseases, taste, cooking properties and potential for marketing or integration into their farming systems. This brings to a total of eight varieties after four varieties were released earlier.