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Aroids

Overview

Crop Aroids Colocasia Xanthosoma Center of origin: PAC-T, SAS, SEA

A minor crop in world trade, but an important crop for food security, aroids are widespread throughout the humid tropics.

The genera Colocasia and Xanthosoma are the most widely grown aroids, the former commonly known as taro and dasheen the latter as cocoyam or tannia.

The aroids rarely enter into world commerce, as they are mostly grown in subsistence agriculture systems and for local markets. However, the aroids play a substantial role in the food security of millions of people in the tropics. The starch rich corms are the main product, but the leaves and the flowers are also eaten. Aroids are used as emergency or famine foods in times of food shortage. Some taro cultivars have extreme flood tolerance and can give substantial yields even in places too wet for paddy-field agriculture.

Taro is typically eaten boiled, stewed, sliced or fried (to chips or tempura), or dried and ground into flour. The leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals.

The aroids are known as one of the “orphan crops”, meaning they receive minimal attention from modern plant breeding relative to their importance as a food source. The crops in this group clearly have great potential, and there is considerable diversity both within species and between them. It is estimated that there are more than 1,000 varieties of taro alone. There are genebank collections of both taro and cocoyam diversity around the world, with large holdings of taro in South East Asia and smaller collections of cocoyam in the Caribbean and West Africa.

Conserving forever in genebanks

Filter by genebanks

CePaCT

Number of varieties available to the public
93.6% 1,157
Data available in genesys
8.1% 100

IITA

Number of varieties available to the public
0% 0
Data available in genesys
0% 0

Breakdown of genebanks conserving Aroids

  • CePaCT 1,236 / 98%
  • IITA 25 / 2%

The Crop Trust has supported 13 projects for Aroids

  1. Belgium: With support from the Crop Trust the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KULeuven) worked with the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), the International Potato Center (CIP) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) to develop protocols for the cryopreservation of edible aroids. The protocols will allow the routine, large-scale application of cryopreservation for long-term conservation of these crop collections.
  2. Cameroon: The Trust supported the Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (IRAD) to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 109 cocoyam accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.
  3. Micronesia: The Crop Trust supported the Pohnlangas Pilot Farm (PPF) to regenerate and characterize 50 accessions of giant swamp taros with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. 38 of these accessions were safety duplicated in Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)
  4. Fiji: The Crop Trust supported the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in its work with the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KULeuven), Belgium to develop a protocol for the cryopreservation of edible aroids. The protocol will allow the routine, large-scale application of cryopreservation for long-term conservation of any taro collection.
  5. Fiji: The Secretariat of the Pacific Community receives an in-perpetuity grant from the Crop Trust for the long-term conservation of the global collections of yam and edible aroids it holds on behalf of the international community.
  6. Fiji: The Crop Trust supported the Secretariat of the Pacific Community to evaluate 30 accessions of taro for drought and salinity tolerance, with the aim of identifying new sources of tolerance and making the material available to breeders for variety development in the Pacific region.
  7. French Polynesia: The Ministère de l’agriculture et de la pêche was supported by the Crop Trust to regenerate and characterize 10 cocoyam accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.
  8. Ghana: The Crop Trust supported the Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute (PGRRI) to regenerate and characterize 74 cocoyam accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops. 71 accessions are duplicated in the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) under in vitro conditions.
  9. Indonesia: The Crop Trust supported the Indonesian Center for Agricultural Biotechnology and Genetic Resources Research and Development (ICABIOGRAD) to regenerate and characterize 200 taro accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  10. Papua New Guinea: The Crop Trust supported the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) in regenerating and characterizing 484 taro accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  11. Philippines: The Crop Trust supported the National Plant Genetic Resources Laboratory (NPGRL) at the University of the Philippines Los Banos to regenerate and characterize 52 taro accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  12. Samoa: The Crop Trust supported the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to regenerate and characterize four giant taro accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  13. Vietnam: The Crop Trust supported the Vietnam Agricultural Sciences Institute to regenerate and characterize 180 aroid accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops. 46 accessions are safety duplicated in the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)