The Weed Research & Management Programme of NARI is located at the LAES Kerevat. Papua New Guinea and Pacific Island Countries (PICs) are becoming increasingly concerned about the occurrence, spread and impact of weeds on the region’s food crops (such as taro, sweet potatoes, yams, bananas, papaya and green vegetables) and cash crops (cocoa, vanilla, sugarcane, kava and oil palm etc). Many weeds were introduced into Papua New Guinea from other countries either accidentally or as agricultural or ornamental plants. Introduced weeds are a problem partly because their natural enemies (insects and diseases which controlled them in their native country) are not present in Papua New Guinea. One of the introduced weeds becoming a serious concern in food gardens and plantation state crops in PNG & Fiji is mile-a-minute (Mikania micrantha Kunth.ex H.B.K) (Asteraceae).
Weeds Research at NARI Kerevat has been focused on collecting baseline data on the distribution and growth of mikania under different conditions so as to quantify the effects and impacts of introduced agents, import the biological control agent, the rust fungus Puccinia spegazzinii de Toni and maintain a culture in the Post Entry Quarantine (PEQ) facility. Results of this research have identified mikania presence in 570 sites in 13 lowland provinces. The socio impact surveys suggests that 76% of the people consider mikania a weed, 68% think its a waste of time controlling the weed and 84% of the people use physical control or manually by slashing. The rust cultures have been maintained up to F6 generations and have been released in East and West New Britain provinces.
The ACIAR funded project CP/2004/064 “Biological control of mile-a-minute (Mikania micrantha) in PNG & Fiji”, is a collaborative research involving, Cocoa Coconut Industry (PNGCCI), Oil Palm Research Association (PNGOPRA), National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (QDPI).
The overall objectives of the project is to introduce biocontrol agents to suppress the growth and presence of M. micrantha in order to minimize its impacts on food security and income and to increase national and regional capacity of biocontrol of weeds.
Past Weeds Research
There have been 15 introductions of biological control agents in less than four decades of classical biological control efforts against weeds in PNG. Generally weed biological control has been more successful in terms of establishment of biocontrol agents and their effectiveness in controlling the target weeds than biocontrol against arthropod pests or snails. There are several weeds under some level of biocontrol and these include puncture vine (Tribulus cistoides), lantana (Lantana camara), salvinia (Salvinia molesta), water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes), creeping sensitive plant (Mimosa diplotricha), water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), two species of Sida and chromolaena (Chromolaena odorata).
For further details please contact the following organisations:
Dr. John E. Moxon
Research Programme Leader
Wet Lowland Islands Programme
P.O. Box 204
East New Britain Province