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The meeting will include practical sessions on taro breeding and virus indexing
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Central America: Costa Rica
Caribbean: CARDI, Cuba
Europe: Viruses & DNA
Oceania: PNG & Samoa




Annual Reports




Library News  

Library News

December 2014 - Issue No# 2

Edible Aroids Newsletter

It is already a year since we met in Montpelier, and during that time there have been a number of highlights. Foremost, was to hear from Diberto Ferraren, from the Philippines. He is safe and sound having survived Typhoon Haiyan, but details are sketchy. We do know, however, that he is back at work helping to resupply farmers with taro. Bert's research station is very near Tacloban, the city which took the brunt of the storm. Other good news came from Renan Traore who defended his thesis on the genetic diversity of taro among INEA partners - congratulations; Anton Ivancic visited Cuba and helped with aroid breeding; Tolo Iosefa continued his world-renown breeding for taro blight tolerance in Samoa, aiming to produce taro more acceptable to the export trade, and made plans for his Ph.D.; and most partners shifted activities from collection, multiplication and evaluation to breeding, working with farmers in some cases. And perhaps we can also list the start of our Newsletter!

Corm showing anthrocyanin

There have been several publications from partners over the year, and these have been highlighted in Library News and Partners' Progress in this and the first issue of the Newsletter in September. However, by coincidence Archana Mukherjee and Vincent Lebot both highlighted the lesser known chemical components of taro, but in different ways. Archana gave a paper at a seminar Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia, at which Professor MS Swaminathan attended. She spoke about the importance of taro to combat iron, zinc and other "hidden hunger" deficiencies. Vincent published a method for rapidly analysing taro for flavonoids, compounds which may have potential health benefits.

Taro (Colocasia esculenta) is the tropical root crop species featuring the greatest flavonoids diversity.......

The method devised by Vincent is interesting as it allows the selection of taro with high flavonoid content, which, in turn, may assist genetic improvement, open market possibilities, and even combat pests and diseases. The photo above show the reaction of a taro corm attacked by Papuana beetle, the scourge of taro growers in many Pacific island countries. Could high flavonoid content confer tolerance?


... and the next meeting is in Vanuatu

Our next meeting will be in 3-6 February in Santo, Vanuatu. The venue is VARTC, the Vanuatu Agriculture Research and Training Centre, where coconut, cocoa, livestock and root crop research is undertaken. Expect it to be wet, and a lot hotter than the last meeting in Montpelier, France! Apart from sessions when partners will share experiences since the last meeting in December 2013, this meeting will discuss breeding strategies and method of virus indexing. The sessions will be led by Anton Ivancic, University of Maribor, and Stephan Winter, German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures. Here are the recommendations of the last meeting. READ MORE

Seeds germinating  

Anton visits Cuba

In September, Anton Ivancic spent a week at INIVIT, El Instituto de Investigaciones de Viandas Tropicales, Cuba giving advice to staff on methods of breeding taro, and several other aroids. As Anton says in his report, taro and cocoyams are important crops in Cuba, and the institute is keen to make improvements, but there is a difficulty. There is not enough pollen. Anton suggested ways of overcoming this problem, and hopes to return to see if they worked. We are hoping that some of the INIVIT staff will be at the next INEA meeting. READ MORE


News from SPC's CePaCT

In July, SPC wrote an article on INEA's work in the Pacific; it is provided here. In recent developments, CePaCT, SPC''s genetic resources centre is increasing its capacity to carry out DNA fingerprinting and also virus indexing. Amit Sukal, who was at the Montpelier meeting last year is now at university in Brisbane studying for a Ph.D. He will be developing methods to index Pacific yams, which have episomal and integrated badnaviruses in them, similar to taro. SPC is also seeking funds to upgrade its labs and equipment in Fiji. And last month, SPC summarised INEA's work on taro breeding. There are other happenings at SPC, too. READ MORE

Seeds germinating  

Marion and Stephan's virus poster

Marion Liebregts and Stephan Winter have been using new techniques to investigate taro viruses, especially those in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea known to cause Alomae and Bobone diseases. The diseases are particularly important because of their severity and because we still do not understand their aetiology. Alomae is very serious as it causes a lethal disease, and epidemics prevent taro from being grown in the lowlands of both countries. A poster has been made that summarises the work done under INEA. READ MORE

Seeds germinating  

CARDI sets the pace

Since September CARDI, together with the Ministry of Agriculture Extension and R&D, has been carrying out trials in St. Vincent and St. Lucia, on-station and with farmers. Greg Robin has sent a report for the Newsletter, outlining the work and preliminary results.  READ MORE

Seeds germinating  

Samoa displays its breeders' lines

In mid-November, Samoa held its annual agricultural show, and this year the theme was "No Farmers - No Food"! SPC's newsletter, Pafpnet, carried an article on the show, and especially on the taro that have been released so far for the export trade. The really interesting stuff appears at the bottom of the first page and further on. Many new taro are being bred by Tolo and farmers, and these are being tested on farms to produce the best export variety. INEA supports Tolo's position in Samoa. READ MORE

Seeds germinating  

Community evaluations, NARI, PNG

NARI has started working with farmers to evaluate selections and breeders' lines. The idea is to increase the diversity of taro in the community with a view to combating climate change. Cyril Atung who started the project in the Huon Gulf is also demonstrating ways to control Papuana beetle, a big problem in the lowlands. Cyril has prepared this photosheet of the work. READ MORE

Seeds germinating  

Partners' progress

I would like to begin this summary of country progress with Archana Mukherjee's report on two meetings that she attended in recent months. At both, she spoke about INEA and the benefits of eating taro. More than that, she cooked some taro for the delegates, turning it into some mouth-watering curries by the sound of it; and also some chutneys. I know what I am going to suggest if Archana comes to Vanuatu! Other reports, no less interesting can be found here.  READ MORE

INEA is led by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Fiji, and the Centre de Cooporation Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Developpement (CIRAD), France and Vanuatu.

The project is made possible by a generous grant of €3 million from the European Union.