|Samoa launches new taro export varieties|
|Tuesday, 17 November 2015 16:57|
Apia, Samoa - Samoa has come a long way since the taro leaf blight disaster in 1993, achieving another milestone this week by launching three new taro varieties during the Samoa Agriculture Show.
The launch of the new varieties supports the taro export industry in meeting market demand for pink taro in New Zealand and further afield.
The new varieties named Talo Tanu, Talo Fusi and Talo Lani were selected from Tanumalala, Fusi and Salani villages after consultation between farmers, Samoa’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), using a participatory approach which involved farmers in selecting varieties in terms of taste and yield.
“Over 20,000 taro planting materials are produced for the taro launching so that farmers, the private sector, cabinet and senior officials receive enough taro planting material for further planting in their taro patches,” MAF’s Assistant Chief Executive Officer in the Nuu Crops Division, Misa Konelio, said.
Taro exports of the Samoa 1 and 2 varieties have risen dramatically between January 2014 and June 2015, which accounts for approximately 1.5 million taro exported, based on figures from the MAF taro pack-house.
The number of containers of taro exported by Samoa to New Zealand and the United States of America has also increased from four to 16 containers per month, and this figure is expected to further increase.
The selection and release of these three new taro lines are part of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research Pacific Agricultural Research Development Initiative project, developing a clean seed system for market-ready taro cultivars in Samoa led by SPC’s Land Resources Division in collaboration with MAF, the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa, farmers and exporters, SPC’s Genetic Resources Coordinator, Valerie Saena-Tuia, explained.
Future potential export varieties have been evaluated by the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (SROS) and one cycle 8 line has been identified that has produced four types which out-performed existing export varieties and Fiji Tausala ni Samoa, in terms of taste and consumer acceptance.
These four types have been released to MAF for planting material multiplication and at various trial sites to further assess their performance under Samoa’s different agro-climatic conditions.
These new taro lines, including top varieties acquired from cycles 3 to 8, were bred by SPC’s taro breeder based in Samoa, Moafanua Tolo Iosefa, in collaboration with MAF, SROS, The University of the South Pacific, farmers, the private sector and development partners under different projects.
Sixteen taro varieties from the breeding programme have been ranked among the best in eight countries (Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Cuba, India, Madagascar, Philippines, Saint Vincent and Grenadines and Papua New Guinea) in support of sustainable food security including African countries affected by taro leaf blight under the European Union International Network for Edible Aroids.
Additionally, the Edible Aroids Network is evaluating new taro lines for drought tolerance in Samoa, along with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation Treaty Benefit Sharing climate change project, both of which are implemented by SPC.
The EU Pacific Agriculture Policy Project also managed by SPC will also contribute to supporting the taro breeding programme to produce lines with improved nutrition and to assist with farmer training on multiplication of these new varieties.
The new lines are hybrids from breeding of Pacific and Asian taro diversity provided by the SPC Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT), based in Suva Fiji.
The Pacific and Asian taro varieties were acquired through SPC AusAID Taro Genetic Resources (Conservation and Utilisation) and Samoa Farming System Projects, the EU-funded Taro Network of the South-east Asia and Oceania, the Global Crop Diversity Trust and FAO Treaty Secretariat facilitating access and sharing of taro diversity through the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.
Photo Captions (SPC photos):
1 & 2. New taro varieties launched during the Samoa Agriculture Show