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Newsletter No. 7 is "out" - Saturday, August 20, 2016

This edition of the Newsletter, describes the work of the European institutes: DSMZ Germany (viruses); University of Madeira, Portugal (drought); CIRAD (DNA analysis); and the University of Maribor, Slovenia, (chemical analyses and breeding). 

See for the Newsletter

Yellow fleshed Xanthosoma goes to Vanuatu - Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Great news INEA! Val, Semi and Amit at SPC's CePaCT about to ship tissue cultures of the yellow corm Xanthosoma to Vincent in Vanuatu. If their chromosomes agree the yellow variety will be hybridised with local ones to give them tolerance to root rot, or that's the theory. The yellow-flesh variety comes from Umudike, the root crop research station of Nigeria. All the best Vincent with the hybridisation!
Taro to another non-INEA meeting - Comoras - Thursday, May 19, 2016

Valerie Tuia of SPC CePaCT has told us that an NGO (Dahari) in the Comoros, a volcanic archipelago off the coast of Africa, in the Mozambique Channel (according to Wikipedia!). Sounds a fascinating place with a varied history. 

The taro will go to the island of Anjouan, multiplied and then then to farmers. 

It was not clear if the new taro are needed because of taro leaf blight or other factors.

Last Annual Meeting 2016 - Thursday, May 19, 2016

This is the last year of INEA - in fact we are in a no-cost extension of one year due to delays associated with Cyclone Haiyan in the Philippines - and we hope to have the final meeting in December in Cuba. We are excited by that. We hear much of the root crops work there, although little has been reported. So it will be a great time to catch up. 

I am not only interested in the work on taro, but also on the IPM of sweetpotato weevil. 

Cuba root crops symposium announcement - Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The dates for this symposium are 20-23 October. A recent announcement tells that the venue has been changed. See the announcement here

Please see the website for fmore information:

3rd meeting of INEA partners - Vanuatu - Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The 22 partners of the International Network for Edible Aroids (INEA) chose Santo, Vanuatu, for their third meeting. Participants came from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, and other Pacific Islands. 

INEA was established in 2011 to carry out a project Adapting clonally propagated crops to climatic and commercial change. The project is implemented by SPC and part-funded by the EU. Technical coordination is provided by CIRAD.

The Network has developed a model to share elite taro – dasheens, eddoes, cocoyams - representing wide diversity. The first taro to be share came from the SPC’s collection housed at the Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees in Suva, Fiji. Others will follow as countries send their best taro to SPC for disease testing and sharing.

The taro sent to countries from SPC are first evaluated on research stations in each country,alongside the best local varieties. The most promising are quickly distributed to farmers for further testing.

At the same time as farmers are testing the selected varieties, the most promising from the research station trials are crossed to raise seedlings; these also go to farmers for evaluation.

The aim is to increase the resilience of taro to climate changes and to better match market requirements at the earliest by working with farmers.

The meeting, hosted by the Vanuatu Agriculture Research and Technical Centre from 3–6 February 2015, was opened by the Secretary of the Sanma Provincial Government Council, who welcomed INEA members to Santo.

Addressing the meeting, Mr Prosper Buletare, Senior Planner for the Council, said, 'Taro and other edible aroids are major food crops in Vanuatu, with high cultural significance, so it is very fitting that the meeting is held here.'

Country presentations showed the appropriateness of the model. About 30 varieties in each country are now with groups of farmers for testing. There are indications of the types they prefer and this will guide breeding at the research stations.

In some cases, there are indications of tolerance to extreme weather events and even salinity. As breeding has started or is well established by most partners, the meeting was extended to allow participants to discuss methods and any difficulties that have arisen or are likely to occur.

In addition, European institutions reported on protocols for screening taro varieties for tolerance to drought; studies on the genetic diversity of taro in each country; chemical analyses of corms for mineral and nutritional content; and the diagnosis of several viruses, including the possible cause of lethal diseases of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

Collections have been assembled and diversity assessed, and now breeders know how to make crosses. Breeding and evaluations for a serious root rot disease will be a major focus of the work on the crop this year.

For more information,contact:

Valerie S. Tuia, SPC, INEA Manager; Vincent Lebot, CIRAD-Vanuatu, INEA Scientific Coordinator;and Grahame Jackson, INEA visibility/communicator


Xanthosoma and root rot - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Birte Komolong writes that Xanthosoma is the most important root crop of East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea, after banana. Trouble is it's affected increasingly by root rot caused by Pythium, an oomycete, that was until recently thought to be a fungus. Xanthosoma root rot is a worldwide problem and one that Fransisco Saborio is working on in Costa Rica. Francisco has a major collection and is starting to fingerprint them using markers develop by Hanna Chair at CIRAD. Francisco wants to know the diversity present in his collection ahead of his planned breeding programme. That diversity will be added too shortly as Cyril Atung tells that he'll be sending four cultivars to Francisco shortly.

INEA's taro breeding in the Pacific - An update - Sunday, December 14, 2014

The taro breeding programme of the International Network for Edible Aroids continues to have a global impact 

An article on taro breeding done in the Pacific, especially in Samoa for taro leaf blight resistance. 

See the article on the SPC website here.

Comparison of taro and rice habitats - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Peter Matthews from the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka jhave written a paper about rice and taro,, and whether one led to the other. Probably a bit fpremature to say, but read about the science at 


New reports for January to June 2014 - Thursday, June 26, 2014

I have put reports from CARDI, India and Madagascar on the website. You can find them at


INEA Annual Report for 2013 is out - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The INEA Annual Report is out. It can be downloaded here, or you can see it at There are reports from all the partners, mostly describing the evaluations of the SPC varieties that everyone received in 2011. The specialist institutions report on DNA analyses, chemical content, viruses and breeding. 


2nd meeting of partners - Friday, January 17, 2014

After 33 months of getting the accounts right, INEA's partners finally made it to Montpellier before Christmas. They met at CIRAD 16-17 December. All the countries were represented except Cuba and the Philippines. Nothing has been heard from Dilberto Ferraren since Typhoon Haiyan struck close to the research station at Visayas, and we remain concerned for his safety. Kenya was also absent, and seems to have dropped out of the project. 

The meeting took a usual course with country partners and European institutes saying what they have been able to do even though they did not have funds. All continued the work in one form or another, and those that had more substantial means made excellent progress. The European institutes too managed to make progress, and so did the students enrolled for PhDs.

Overall, countries have managed to grow the taro sent by SPC in field plots, describe them using a short set of descriptors, multiply them, and in many cases give some to selected farmers for evaluation. See the meeting report here.

There is also a group photo here. 

There were several recommendations, including one that INEA should devote greater attention to eddoes as they may have drought resistance. Crosses may be needed between eddoes and dasheens to incorporate the best characteristics of both in new progeny. Elite local varieties should be shared through SPC after virus indexing. There was also a desire for develop standard protocols to assess diseases, corm quality characteristics, suckering and drought, and ways of working with farmers. Pests and diseases should be correctly identified  in each country, and it was mentioned that TaroPest, an interactive database, is a good place to start when uncertain (it is on the website). As the objective of the project is to broaden allelic diversity, it was recommended that all varieties distributed by SPC should be fingerprinted with SSR markers; this should be done by CIRAD. A major change was sought in reporting following comments by the ROM: all country partners and the European research institutes should send quarterly reports to the Technical Coordinator (Vincent Lebot); and to keep each informed of progress a newsletter will be written and circulated. Finally, the meeting saw a great need to do more on Xanthosoma and collections in South and Central America should be sent to SPC for virus indexing before transfer to breeding programs in Costa Rica and Nicaragua that are in need of germplasm. 


SPC-CePaCT distributions - Saturday, December 14, 2013

Valerie Tuia has just sent (13 December 2013) three lists of taro which include the following a) breeders' lines produced in Samoa over several years; b) SPC distributions to INEA partners; and c) SPC distributions to non-INEA partners. There can be seen under Projects WP2 Germplasm (SPC distributions), or by clicking on a), b) and c) above.


PNG reports on evaluation of SPC taro introductions - Saturday, December 14, 2013

Abstract (Read full version here)

Thirty taro cultivars Colocasia esculenta were selected for on farm trials comprising cultivars from Secretariat of the South Pacific Community (SPC), PNG core collections and breeding lines for their yield, resistant pattern to taro leaf blight and taste. The yield values in most of the cultivars range from 3-19t/ha throughout the experiment 
while the TLB severity percent range from 0-35. The yield records of 10-19 t/ha were recorded for:

BL/SM/136 and

Low yielding varieties were observed from Thailand (THA), Vietnam (Ven) and Japan (JP) produced low yields compared to the local checks. 

Therefore, it is concluded from this study that taro from Hawaii, Samoa, Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea lines can be utilize under this project for on farm trials in Papua New Guinea. 

It was noticed that a fungal leaf spot that may be caused by a Phoma sp. was particularly severe in those varieties with waxy leaves.


Partners to meet at Montpellier in December 2013 - Monday, December 2, 2013

Now that the funds are flowing once again from the EU, the partners in INEA will meet at CIRAD's HQ, Montpellier, 16-17 December. This will give them a chance to brief each other on the progress made in the last year since they received varieties from SPC, and to provide their plans for the future.


Laurent Loulard, France - Sunday, August 4, 2013

Analysis of the genetic determinism of corm quality characters in Taro (Colocasia esculenta(L.) Schott)

My PhD thesis aims to improve the efficiency of taro breeding for corm quality. At present, hybridisation and selection of useful offspring takes too long,about 10 years on average. Marker-assisted selection could be the solution if we could understand the genetics of corm quality. Towards this end, a trial of full-sib hybrids has been established in Vanuatu in collaboration with CTRAV and CIRAD. These hybrids will be phenotyped, chemotyped and genotyped for several generations to study segregation, heritability and to correlate morpho-agronomical and quality characters. Given that taro genetic maps available are low coverage (Quero-Garcia et al. 2006), new SNPs markers are currently being developed via Genotyping by Sequencing (Elshire et al.; 2011). A high-coverage genetic map crossed with phenotyping and chemotyping data will allow us to identify markers linked to QTLs involved in corm quality characters, which will dhelp with selection in the future.


Tolo Iosefa, Samoa - Saturday, June 29, 2013

Drought tolerance

My PhD at the University of the South Pacific is to evaluate drought tolerance of taro using seedlings from a Cycle-8 population produced for taro leaf blight resistance; these will be tested under controlled on-station trials in Samoa.

Screening for drought tolerance will be performed by assessing morphological and physiological characteristics (above and below ground biomass), using a drought tolerance protocol developed by the University of Madeira in Portugal with the aim of identifying agronomic, physiological and molecular traits correlated with drought tolerance.

Result from this study will help develop a methodology that would allow taro breeder to screen rapidly F1 hybrids for drought tolerance rather than waiting for C1 & C2 clonal generations.

This study will be under the supervision of the Scientific Coordinator of the INEA Project, Vincent Lebot, with financial assistance from the University of the South Pacific, SPC/AusAID International Climate Change Adaptation Initiative, PARDI Project and INEA.


Taro breeding - some hints from Anton Ivancic - Friday, May 17, 2013

See the illustrated INEA hybridization protocol (the one for Colocasia taro):
Induction of flowering:

The easiest way is to use Ga3 (gibberellic acid 3 – it is not expensive). Either:
  • a) make a 300 ppm concentration and spray the plants once, or 
  • b) make a 200 ppm concentration and spray twice (3-7 days after the first spray). 
Plants should be young (about 21-45 days after planting). Do not spray older plants. As the leaves are waxy, the Ga3 solution should be mixed with some detergent. Use one or two drops per litre of detergent, and use a hand-held sprayer that produces a fine mist. Spray on a sunny day when rain is unlikely, but spray in the late afternoon so that you do not burn the leaves. If it starts raining 1-2 hours after spraying, the effect is very poor. So you will have to do it again.

If the concentration of Ga3 exceeds 600 ppm, the plants start producinglong stolons and inflorescences may be without pollen. Female flowers may still be receptive, but you may not get any pollen. Under normal growing conditions, flowering starts after 3-5 weeks, but it does depend on the variety. It is simple!
When one cycle of flowering is over, it is good to replant the parent taro and repeat the treatment with the Ga3, but use a little lower concentration.
In this offspring generation, plants usually flower readily.
The best time for floral induction and hybridization is in the rainy season.
If you need more information, please, don’t hesitate to ask me.
And remember parts per million (ppm) is the same as mg per litre, so to make a 300 ppm solution of Ga3 weigh out 300 mg and dissolve in 1 litre of water.

If you are not sure how many litres you need, practice by spraying taro with water alone and count the number sprayed with one litre.


Taro to Bangladesh from SPC CePaCT - Thursday, May 2, 2013

This is a letter that has been sent to BARI, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, Joydebpur, nr. Dhaka, 29 April 2013. A similar letter has gone to Mauritius. So far taro have been sent to four non-INEA countries: Bangladesh, Cameroon, Haiti, Mauritius, and consignments are going to DR Congo (via Germany) and to Guadaloupe.


Distributions to non-INEA countries - Friday, March 29, 2013

There is a great demand for INEA germplasm. So far we have supplied, or about to supply, germplasm to Haiti, Bangladesh, DR Congo, Cameroon, Mauritius and Guadeloupe. We have done that using INEA funds although none of those countries are members of the project. I think that speaks for itself. There is a need and we have responded. 

There will come a time when we will have to say no. It's time-consuming for SPC CePaCT and the team because for every request there is the need for import permits, SMTAs to be signed, and there are costs for courier services.

Just think how much more we could do if we had funds! At least to have funds to cover SPC's expenses and some to tell the world that that taro germplasm is available for distribution from the Pacific, and that there are varieties that are resistant to taro leaf blight. The SPC CePaCT is the internationally recognised centre for the conservation of taro germplasm.


Xanthosoma arrives at SPC from Umudike, Nigeria - Wednesday, March 20, 2013
The Xanthosoma variety that has been mentioned before in INEA News as potentially tolerant to Root rot caused by the water mould (oomycete) Pythium sp., has arrived at SPC from Nigeria. There, the plants will be transferred from tissue culture medium to pots with soil and after a month or so tested for viruses. Ultimately, they will go to the Xanthosoma breeding programme in Vanuatu for hybridisation with local varieties. 

Valerie Tuia writes wrote Dr Joseph Onyeka, Plant Pathologist, Umudike, on 1 March 2012, as follws: "This is to acknowledge receipt of the cultures this morning and most are in good condition. Thank you for your good efforts in facilitating this request".


Project Review - Sunday, February 10, 2013
The INEA project will be reviewed in February 2013. EU experts will conducted a Result Oriented Monitoring (ROM) of the project. The ROM system provides EuropeAid with an overview of how the project is progressing in terms of resource use, implementation and delivery of results in order to help the project managers achieve the final objectives. It gives feedback to project managers on the performance of the operations under their responsibility and gives recommendations on how to improve them, if necessary. The ROM procedure consists of interviews with project stakeholders (including farmers and village communities) and aims at assessing the project performance against five internationally agreed evaluation criteria:
  1. Relevance and Quality of Project Design: this will evaluate the appropriateness of project's objectives to the real problems, needs and priorities of its target groups/beneficiaries and the quality of thedesign through which these objectives are to be reached.       
  2. Efficiency: how well means/inputs and activities were converted into results (as defined in the project "outputs").
    Effectiveness: or the contribution made by the project's results (as defined in the project as "outcomes") to the achievement of the project purpose.
  3. Impact: as presently implemented, the project's likely contribution to the project's Overall Objective.
  4. Sustainability: the likelihood of a continuation in the stream of benefits produced by the project after the period of external support has ended.

The ROM mission will visit the following project sites :
11 February (Monday) - Meetings with SPC in Suva (FJ)
12-13 February (Tuesday and Wednesday) - Meeting with CIRAD (Mr. Lebot) in Port Vila (VU)
14-15 February (Thursday and Friday) - Meetings with VARTC in Espiritu Santo (VU)
18-19 February (Monday and Tuesday) - Meetings with NARI in Lae (PG)
28 February (Thursday) - Meetings with CIRAD in Montpellier (FR)


Tropical Roots and Tubers for Sustainable Livelihoods under Changing Agro-Climate - Monday, February 4, 2013

An International Conference entitled Tropical Roots and Tubers for Sustainable Livelihoods under Changing Agro-Climate will be held at the Central Tuber Crops Research Institute, Thiruvananthapuram (previously Trivandrum), Kerala, India, 9-12 July 2013. This is south India. I am attaching a brochure; click here


Cocoyam Rebirth in Nigeria - Thursday, January 17, 2013

A new book has been published entitled Cocoyam Rebirth in Nigeria by Benjamin Okoye, Kenneth Nwosu and Godwin Cghukwu. 

Cocoyam rebirth is new holistic approach to the perception, research, production, utilization and marketing of cocoyam in Nigeria. It is a renaissance in cocoyam research. The rebirth is a paradigm of advocacy to sensitize all stakeholders in Nigeria, about the under-utilized potentials of cocoyam. It is a re-branding of Nigerian’s attitude that cocoyam is not food for the poor and downtrodden as erroneously conceived but a highly nutritious and medicinal indigenous food for all classes of citizens. It should be brought back into many families’ diets to mitigate hunger and improve clinical health. Cocoyam rebirth is a strategy to recapitulate and re-orientate Nigerians about the roles cocoyam played as a major nutritious, easily available cheap food in the colonial era. It is a reminder of the Igbo tribe of the salvage role cocoyam played to save many of them form dying of starvation during the Nigerian civil war up to early 1970s. Cocoyam rebirth recognizes and appreciates cocoyam as a material culture, and as a driver of and roadmap to, economic empowerment and endogenous development in Nigeria.

The ISBN-13 is 978-3-659-17041-6, published by LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing. Details of the book can be found at The price is Euro49.


What's the importance of taro in Bangladesh? - Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Taro is an important vegetable inBangladesh. At certain times of the year, particularly in August and September,it is very popular. At this time there is a scarcity of other vegetables. Overall,taro makes up about 25% of the vegetables in the market during the summerseason.

However, taro production is facingproblems, and yields are low. The crop takes a long time to mature, and isaffected by taro late blight disease. To solve these problems, the Tuber Crops Research Centre, BangladeshAgricultural Research Institute, has released one upland variety, Mukhikachu, and three lowland varietiesunder the collective name of Panikachu. All are late varieties, maturing in 9-10months. For a country where land is at a premium, this is too long.

The population of Bangladesh is increasingrapidly, and that demands increased production of food. It also means greaterdiversity to ensure food security. And this is where roots and tubers can playa major role.

Since the early 1980s, the TCRC underBARI, has focussed on vegetable improvement. However, work on taro has mainlycentred on germplasm collection and evaluation. If further research is to havemeaningful impact then a partnership with INEA would be very beneficial inareas such as staff training, molecular characterisation of germplasm, and theintroduction of short duration varieties with resistance to taro leaf blight.


Md.Shafiqul Islam
Scientific Officer (Plant Breeding)
Tuber Crops Research Centre
Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute
Joydebpur,Gazipur, Bangladesh


Taro leaf blight causes havoc with the crop in Mauritius - Friday, January 4, 2013

Taro was once an important crop in north Mauritius, particularly in the humid regions of Crève Cour, Montagne Longue, Les Marianes and Congomah. It was also found in marshy regions of Bambous, Clementia, Schoenfeld and Careau Acacia. But this is no longer so.

Taro leaf blight came in 1995. Two years before it had been 480 mt; two years later it was 45 mt, and retail prices have increased dramatically. This is a similar picture to the situation in Samoa where taro as a subsistence and commercial crop was abandoned within 6 months. 

Unfortunately, the local varieties in Mauritius do not have tolerance to the disease, and control measures using fungicides are very expensive. The only practical measure is to introduce resistant varieties. The Ministry of Agriculture has asked INEA for help and plants from the Pacific will be sent in early 2013.


More requests for TLB-resistant germplasm - Mauritius & Bangladesh - Sunday, December 30, 2012

Several non-INEA countries have asked for taro leaf blight resistant taro varieties - Cameroon, Haiti, DR Congo and Guadeloupe. Now it's the turn of Mauritius and Bangladesh. Agronomist Mala Gungadurdoss tells us that the disease has been particulalry bad in the country since its introduction a few years ago. To get the introduction of resistant germplasm from INEA under way, the Deputy Director, Agriculture Research & Extension Unit, Quatre-Bornes, will be signing the SMTA, and consignments will reach the country in the New Year. 

As for Bangladesh, Shafiqul Islam, Scientific Officer (Plant Breeding), Tuber Crops Research Centre, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, Joydebpu,Gazipur, Bangladesh, made the request, and is getting the appropriate person to sign the SMTA.

Meanwhile Valerie and staff at the SPC CePACT is supplying the information to satisfy the respective quarantine departments so that the introductions have a smooth run after they reach the countries. 


News about the INEA PhD students - Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Apart from Renan Traore from Burkina Faso, INEA has two other PhD students and they are doing their research in Vanuatu, with Vincent Lebot.

Vincent has sent the following on their progress.

Andrej Mergudus enrolled at the University of Maribor in October 2011 and started his field work in November 2011 in Santo, Vanuatu. His research is to understand the variation of corm quality before and after harvest and to correlate it with chemical composition. Selected varieties have been cloned and the field layout allows a monthly harvest of the clones to study the accumulation of compounds in the corms, as well as its partitioning. Hundreds of freeze dried samples have been prepared, sent to Slovenia and will be analysed when Andrej returns to Maribor in February 2013. The INEA scholarship is for three years, Andrej's supervisors are Pr Janja Kristland and Pr Anton Ivancic.

Laurent Soulard enrolled at the University of Montpellier in September 2013 and started his field work in October 2012 also in Santo, Vanuatu. His research is to understand how taro corm quality could be genetically improved using conventional breeding. He is looking for quantitative traits loci (QTLs) linked to corm quality directly - dry matter content, major compounds, secondary metabolites - but also indirectly linked to plant architecture and growth. A family heritability trial involving full sibs was established in February 2012 and is being harvested now. It will be replanted as the first clonal generation trial. DNA analayses of the plants will start when Laurent gets back to Montpellier in December. The INEA scholarship is for three years. Laurent's supervisors are Dr Hana Chair and Vincent Lebot.

All the best to these young scientists.


Taro leaf blight in the Cameroon - Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Leke Walter Nkeabeng, National Scientific Coordinator of Annual Crops, Yaounde, has sent an email on taro leaf blight in Cameroon. He says that since 2009, when the disease first appeared, there has been complete destruction of taro in the country. The disease was first seen on the coastal regions, but now it is spreading inland. Leke and his colleagues are hoping that the SPC accessions, which have arrived and are doing well in the nursery, will solve the problem. So do we all.


Visit to NRCRI, Umudike, Nigeria - Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Grahame Jackson visited the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, Nigeria on 26 September 2012 to see the destruction caused by taro leaf blight, and also root rot of Xanthosoma caused by the oomycete, Pythium. A report can be read at


SPC taro in Haiti progressing well after long flight - Friday, September 14, 2012

News from Haiti about the taro sent in July. Maria Eunide, Ministere de l'Agriculture, des Ressources Naturelles et du Developpement Rural, Port-au-Prince writes:

"Dear Valerie,
I am pleased to write to the CePACT team to say thank you so much for the material you sent us. Everything is working well and we managed to get 100% success for the acclimatization of the plantlets. We have already transplanted in an open field and we will send a detailed report to you shortly on the behavior of plants with supporting photographs, since we already thought of that."


SPC taro reach Cameroon - Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cameroon is not a partner of INEA, unfortunately, but the project has been able to help, just as it has been able to help Haiti. The country has suffered due to the introduction of taro leaf blight, so SPC has been keen to send resistant germplasm.

On 21 August 2012, help came with the arrival of breeders' lines from Samoa and PNG and varieties from countries in Asia.

We hope that Cameroon with follow the scheme for using these varieties as the other INEA partners. We hope to see Leke Walter Nkeabeng at our meetings. At least we will be keen to hear about of progress as the taro are evaluated.

You can see the introductions, Leke and his team at:


A reminder of INEA's scheme - Monday, August 13, 2012

Below is the scheme that INEA will follow:

1. CePACT to distribute varieties

50 genotypes are sent from SPC CePACT - Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees - to each partner; these varieties are from Asia and the Pacific. Some are breeders' lines from the breeding programmes in PNG and Samoa.

2. Morphological characterisation

Characterisation of the taro varieties, both introduced and local, should be done 4-6 months after planting. Later, at harvest the corms can be characterised. The project has developed a short list of descriptors

3. Comparison introductions and local varieties

The 50 introduced genotypes are compared to the best local ones, and then 30 genotypes are selected, and propagated further. Within this 30 "elite cultivars" there might be both introduced and local genotypes, we don't know yet, but you will find out very soon how the introduced ones perform. We they be better or worse than the locals cultivars?

The comparisons are based on the traits which are the most important for farmers. In Vanautu, for example, quality is the most important trait, but in some countries (Samoa for example?) it is resistance to taro leaf blight and quality and yield. Selections are based on what has more chances to please farmers, both men and women! We cannot afford to distribute something with 1- poor taste and 2 - producing too many stolons (because all the weeding is done by hand, and stolons produce a mess in the plots). It depends between countries.

4. Farmers' trial

By 24 months or so (hard to tell because it depends on your growing conditions), you should have sufficient material of the 30 genotypes to plant them in farm trials. The 30 selected genotypes are distributed to five (5) farmers in 10 villages (total of 50 lead farmers in each country). It is best to select these villages around your research station so that they are easily accessible. At this stage, you only have to give two headsets per genotype to each farmer. So it means that you need 100 plants propagated per genotype.

It means that you need an on-station propagation plot of 30 genotypes x 100 plants = 3000 plants (equal to 3000 m2 or 50 X 60 m. And this plot is needed only once during the project's life span. Once you have given the genotypes to the farmers, the propagation work is completed and you shift to breeding.

5. Taro breeding

But you don't have to wait for farmers feedback and appraisal of the 30 genotypes to start breeding, you can start as soon as you have a clear picture "on station". 

For your breeding programme, the best parents are selected according to their performances and traits "on station". Some may be local and other introduced genotypes and you may wish to cross the introduced with locals. This is what is done in Vanuatu.
6. Evaluation of the F1 hybrids

The F1 hybrids are then raised and their clones (C1s, first clonal generation) are propagated after selection of the best genotypes. C1s are distributed to farmers for on-farm evaluation. But in this case, there is no minimum number of farmers imposed to you (as above for propagation and evaluation) because our experience indicates that you really have to select the farmers who are keen to evaluate hybrids and they may not be many. Of course if you could find 10 or so of them, that would be ideal. You don't have to give the same C1 genotypes to all of them. The idea is to find out if hybrids are potentially useful to farmers and to have their feed back on the traits of importance to them to redirect your breeding programme. Also, you might discover, that different farmers select different hybrids. No problem with that as well.

SPC CePACT taro have reached Haiti and settling down well - Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Marie Eunide Alphonse from Hait (Ministère de l'Agriculture, Des Ressources Naturelles et du Développement Rural) writes that the taro plants are well and growing fast! Photos will be sent.


Taro have reached Cameroon and Haiti - Sunday, July 1, 2012

Great news! Shipments of taro have been sent from the SPC CePACT to Cameroon and Haiti in response to requests from those two countries. Even though they are not part of INEA their requests have been acknowledged and fulfilled. Excellent that the project