This article is one from 15 different Papua New Guinean scienctists taken from the manuscript of the new Grade 9 Science Outcomes textbook prior to the design and editing processes currently being undertaken at Pearson Education Australia. This is Rosa’s story. I hope all the parents, teachers and students reading this enjoy it. More scientists’ stories will appear here during the next few months.
This photograph is of Rosa busy in the field making notes about a very healthy looking casava crop.
Mrs Rosa Naipo Kambuou is the Co-ordinator of the National Agricultural Research Institute’s (NARI) National Genetic Resources Program based at the NARI Southern Regional Centre, Laloki. She hails from Lido village in Vanimo, Sandaun Province and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Tropical Agriculture from the University of Papua New Guinea and a Master of Science Degree in Conservation and Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources from Birmingham University, United Kingdom.
Rosa is the first female Agricultural Scientist to serve her country as a Researcher and an Administrator with the National Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) having started with the then Department of Agriculture, Stocks and Fisheries (DASF) in the late seventies. She has extensive experience as an Agronomist during which she once occupied the Position of a Chief Agronomist with DAL.
Rosa has authored and published some 19 papers with fellow NARI Scientists. She has been with NARI since its formative years and also has been part of the NARI planning team.
From a humble and rural upbringing, Rosa loves gardening and collecting food from the wild habitats and harvesting marine resources to contribute to the family’s upkeep. She belongs to a farming and fishing community, which shaped her interest in becoming an agriculturalist and then into studying plant genetic resources.
Rosa says that it is very challenging to work as an Agricultural Scientist (Agronomist) in PNG because of the complex agricultural systems of the country and the diverse traditional practices and norms of different societies in PNG. The diversity in food crop species and farm animals pose yet another challenge for the researchers of our country. The diversity of these natural resources needs to be properly conserved and maintained for future use. The challenges put forward by the effects of ‘climate change’ are real and are here to stay. As the Coordinator of NARI’s Genetic Resources Programme, Rosa’s job is to ensure that the programme is effectively conserving and maintaining the rich food crop and farm animal diversity of the country. Loosing this diversity would mean ‘food and nutritional insecurity’ for over 85% of our rural populace.
The genetic diversity of the PNG staple food crop species are conserved and maintained in field collections or ‘gene-banks’ at NARI Programme Centers throughout the country. From these field collections, Rosa’s research team then select the suitable germplasm for using in Crop Improvement Programmes or for screening for pest and disease resistance or for tolerance to effects of climate change (climate ready crop species). Conservation and safe keeping of the genetic diversity of our food crops and farm animals is very important because these resources provide the ‘raw’ or ‘basic’ materials for other scientists like ‘Breeders’ to use to improve varieties or breeds of farm animals.
Our climate has changed and we need to produce food crop varieties and breeds of farm animals that can adapt to change in the climate and that is only possible through Breeding or Improvement Programmes by using the genetic diversity that we have.
Genetic Resources Scientists play an important role in this area and therefore, PNG needs more young men and women to take up this interest. Currently, Rosa is the only National Scientist trained in Plant Genetic Resources Conservation, Management and Utilization. She has almost reached her retiring age and she would like to see that more young PNGians take up this profession.
If you want to know more on what Rosa and her team in NARI are doing in Genetic Resources Conservation, Management and Utilization, then you can contact her at NARI Southern Regional Centre, Laloki, P.O. Box 1828, Port Moresby.