We acknowledged with gratitude the late Ms Rosa Kambuou’s immense contribution to the Banana Research and Development (BRD) in Papua New Guinea (PNG), in the Pacific region and internationally. She was the first PNG representative member in the banana steering committee of the Banana Asia-Pacific Network [BAPNET]. During her term as a member of the steering committee, she had contributed significantly in the BRD work in PNG and globally until diagnosed with kidney disease in early 2008. Despite her deteriorating health condition, she continued to steer PNG’s research and development in the banana industry as a Principal Scientist with PNG National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) until her early retirement in April 2014.
She is also acknowledged for her vital contribution and vision towards the establishment of the first Pacific Regional Banana collection in the field in French Polynesia, supported by the Bioversity International, Global Crop Diversity Trust and coordinated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).She is also the founding member of the steering committee in the SPC Pacific Agricultural Plant Genetic Resources Network [PAPGREN] and has contributed so much to global regional crop conservation strategy framework through the PAPGREN network. In 2008 she received the Pisang Raja award from Bioversity International for her services to banana R&D in the region.
In the mid 1980’s, Rosa was a Senior Banana Agronomist in the Research Division of the PNG Department of Agriculture and Livestock, and led and developed strategies for the banana improvement and research activities in the Division. She also actively participated in several banana collection missions accompanying the team of visiting scientists from IBPGR, CIRAD and QDPI in 1988 and 1989. Her involvement in these collection trips has greatly contributed to the increased number of banana genetic diversity in the field genebank that is currently being conserved and maintained by NARI.
Rosa’s use it or lose it philosophy, together with her passion to conserve and utilise as much diversity of banana important for current and future generations, has led to these important unique banana germplasm being conserved at the Bioversity International Transit Centre in Belgium, in French Polynesia as part of the Pacific Regional Field Banana Collection and at the SPC Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees based in Fiji. Some of these accessions have gone on to be used in global breeding efforts developing hybrids with improved resistance to pests and diseases.
Rosa was given a role as a Coordinator on Plant Genetic Resources while serving the Institute [NARI] until her early retirement in April 2014. She has contributed tremendously in Plant Genetic Resources activities within PNG, the Pacific Region and around the globe and mentoredand inspired many young scientists in PNG and the global community.
She is acknowledged by her colleagues and friends within Pacific Region and around the Globe as the “Iconic PGR Champion in the Pacific”. Late Mrs. Kambuou is peacefully laid to rest in her home Province, Vanimo. She is survived by her son, Vincent Kambuou.
Contributed by Janet Paofa, Genetic Resources Programme, National Agricultural Research Institute, Southern Regional Centre, Papua New Guinea