Last updated: 24/05/2016

Papua New Guinea Joins the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Papua New Guinea acceded to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture by depositing its instrument of accession in the beginning of February 2015, and will become the 135th Contracting Party of the International Treaty as of 6 May 2015.

“We are delighted to welcome Papua New Guinea to the Treaty Community, and look forward to others in the South West Pacific joining our growing membership,” said Shakeel Bhatti, Secretary of the Governing Body of the Treaty. “With their accession, Papua New Guinea joins the Treaty’s multilateral system, a global genepool of more than 1.6 million accessions of the most important food plants.”

Treaty membership will give Papua New Guinea several advantages, including the right to participate in technology transfer and capacity building programs, the right to submit project proposals under the Treaty’s Benefit-Sharing Fund, and the right to participate in the Treaty’s Governing Body meetings.

Rich Crop Diversity

Papua New Guinea has a naturally rich diversity of food crop species and wild plant relatives. It is considered one of the ‘last frontiers’ of natural diversity, both in terms of native flora and fauna and in terms of a place where indigenous people still hunt and gather their food and other basic needs from their wild natural habitats. A sizeable percentage of the population lives in rural areas and depends largely on the diversity of wild plants and animals for food. The tropical rainforest areas of Papua New Guinea have millions of species of flora and fauna, many of which are unique to that part of the world.

 In addition, the country has a broad genetic base of food crops that provides for tolerance against major pests and diseases. It is also home to many exotic and under-utilized species, particularly vegetables, fruits and nuts. However, studies show an erosion of this rich diversity, and the government has set up national programs and mechanisms for the conservation, management and sustainable use of biodiversity. Major food crops include sweet potato, taro, banana, yam, cassava and aibika.

The Secretariats of the International Treaty and the Pacific Community are working closely to assist other countries in the region.

International Membership

In addition to acceding to the International Treaty of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, Papua New Guinea is also a member of the Convention on Biological Diversity.