Agriculture Research pundits visit National Herbarium

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A team comprised of Agriculture Research, Extension and Biosecurity professionals from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL), Solomon Islands National University (SINU), Kastom Garden Association (KGA) and SPC Honiara office has visited the Ministry of Forestry & Research, National Herbarium Division at the Water Pump area, Botanical Garden on 4th November 2020.

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The visit was part of the Plant Health Clinic refresher training organised by MAL and SPC Honiara office for the MAL, SINU and KGA agriculture plant protection specialist or Plant Doctors from 2nd-6th November at the KGA conference room.

“The visit provided us an opportunity to look and learn from the National Herbarium staff on the techniques/methods of preserving plant specimens,” MAL Chief Research Officer Maria Gharuka said.

She said from the knowledge gathered during the field trip, the Plant Doctors or participants will be able to preserve sick plant samples, especially damaged or sick plants  by using the pressing technique to make dry specimens.

“Dried specimens of sick or damaged plants are important reference materials that can be sent to Entomologist or Pathologist for identification of the pest or pathogen that actually caused the plant to get sick or damaged,” she said.

Ms. Gharuka said though the visit was the first of its kind, participants are able to learn new ideas through sharing of information and discussions held on that day.

She added that such field visit is important as it provided a space for MAL through its Research Department to determine areas of potential future collaboration between both government organisations.

“The Research Department of MAL can utilize such field trips to learn from the Herbarium staff or Forestry about certain activities that MAL can collaborate with Forestry to implement.

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“Also the two ministries can collaborate to build the capacity of their staff through practical trainings,” Ms. Gharuka added.

The visit also enabled the officers to have a look at the dried specimens of plants kept in cabinets, some of which are agricultural food crops such as sweet potato.

Director for the Ministry of Forestry & Research, Herbarium & Botanical Garden Division, Myknee Sirikolo while welcoming the team to his office said the National Herbarium and Botanical Garden is directly responsible for the management and improvement of the Herbarium and the Botanical Garden’s infrastructure for both research and amenities for visitors, researchers and fellow citizens.

He said the division is made up of two Section which include the National Herbarium and the Botanical Garden.

“The National Herbarium Section is responsible for conducting plant specimen collection, documentation and updating the Solomon Islands’ flora along with collaborating with international agencies, institutions and researchers to conduct research on ecology and botany. This Section also liaises with other herbaria for specimen loans and exchange.

“The Botanical Garden Section is responsible for conducting living plant collections in provinces to increase biodiversity, promote plant conservation and display indigenous ornamental plants in the botanical garden. This Section also promotes in situ and ex situ conservation of vulnerable and endangered plant species, along with updating and managing plant records of all living plant materials stored inside the botanical garden,” Director Sirikolo said as he revealed the responsibility of each section under the National Herbarium & Botanical Garden Division.

Meanwhile, Chief Research Officer of MAL Maria Gharuka thanked Mr. Sirikolo for his helpful presentations and for information shared and for making sure officers have the chance to observe the work that the National Herbarium staff is doing to study, protect and preserve our plant specimens.

Ms. Gharuka said MAL through its Research Department is looking forward to collaborate with the National Herbarium office in future research undertakings.

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