Santa Clara, Cuba – The six-year European Union- funded Adapting clonally propagated crops to climatic and commercial changes Project has received positive response from the participants following the conclusion of its final meeting at Instituto de Investigaciones de Viandas Tropicales (INIVIT), Santa Clara, Cuba.
The International Network for Edible Aroids (INEA) meeting (13-14 December 2016) was attended by 15 countries (Burkina Faso, CARDI, (Caribbean), Costa Rica, Cuba, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Nigeria, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, South Africa and Vanuatu), two Pacific development agencies (the Pacific Community (SPC) and Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD) Vanuatu and European research organisations in France, Germany, Portugal and Slovenia.
The SPC implemented the project, with CIRAD providing technical expertise.
Head of INIVIT, Dr Sergio Rodriquez, said, “We want to thank the project, the Network and the EU, for assisting us all with testing new ways of working with these two crops.
“The response to the project has been very positive. Germplasm has been shared, for the first time hybrids have been made, and literature and information has been made available.
“We are dealing here with crops immensely important in the diet of the vulnerable, the elderly and children. They are crops that recover quickly after hurricanes and are used by us now to mitigate against their potential to cause damage,” Dr Rodriquez said.
The aim of the project was to test a model for root and tuber crop improvement using the aroids Colocasia and Xanthosoma. The main focus was to create genetically diverse crop collections in each country and involve local farmers in their evaluation.
Through the project’s implementation, the diversity of taro has been widened significantly in all partner countries. SPC’s Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT) distributed each participating country 50 varieties of taro from Asia, and breeding lines from Samoa, Hawaii and Papua New Guinea.
This enables participating countries to compare these foreign varieties with their own native taro, make selections, and breed them for the characteristics that the farmers consider important. Hybrid taro between foreign and native taro were produced in most countries; in Africa, this was for the first time they bred and produce new taro hybrids.
Many of the foreign varieties, especially those from the three breeding programmes based in Hawaii, Samoa and Papua New Guinea, had also developed a resistance to taro leaf blight.
For West Africa, especially, this was very important as the disease reached Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon in 2010, just before the start of the project, and has done immense damage to the crop, impairing food security, especially among the poor. These countries now have a permanent solution to the disease.
In addition, all partners gained knowledge on how to breed for Colocasia and Xanthosoma improvement and this participatory approach with farmers will continue even after the project ends.
The international collaboration that has started under the project will also continue through the International Network of Edible Aroids, which was launched in 2010.
“We asked for your help, and it was provided. We thank you for that, and we wish INEA great success in the future: we and others in INEA want to share with others, and so the collaboration will continue,” Dr Rodriquez said.
Photo 1: INEA members attended the final meeting of the International Network for Edible Aroids in Santa Clara, Cuba
For further information:
Valerie Tuia, SPC CePaCT Coordinator EU INEA email@example.com or +679 337 0733
Dr Vincent Lebot, CIRAD Coordinator – EU INEA firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Grahame Jackson, EU INEA – email@example.com