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Potentials and challenges of sustainable taro (Colocasia esculenta) production in Nigeria

Alfred O. Ubalua, Favour Ewa, Onyinyechi D. Okeagu.

During the past years, precisely 1965-1980, yam and taro reigned supreme in the Southern parts of Nigeria. Yam was the king and taro the queen. They were then the staple food of choice and were even offered to the gods. Their acceptance and ascendancy were challenged by the arrival and domestication of the easy growers (plantain, banana, maize and later cassava, tannia and sweetpotato). The easy growers gained recognition and prominence as staple foods and subsequently replaced the earlier staples. Thus, cassava and sweetpotato superseded yam and taro respectively. Nutritionally, taro has broader compliments of vitamins and nutrients compared to other root and tuber crops. The domestication of the new crops which are relatively more yielding and at the same time enjoys international leverage in research and development poses enormous challenges to the future of taro as a major crop. Strategic options for increase in taro production and consumption should be on consumer education and on its nutritional and health benefits. Increased attention on taro research will provoke a better understanding and contributions the crop can offer in the areas of food security, health and economic empowerment.

Key words: Taro, minute granules, infant formula, medical nutrition therapy, industrial crop, diseases, strategic approaches.

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