Pacific taro poised for big export boost


<p style="text-align: justify;">Research in the Pacific region into pinpointing and growing the ‘best’ taro varieties could open up new markets for one of the world’s earliest cultivated crops and help address food security in the region.<!--more--></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">According to Shane Dullahide, research leader of the University of Queensland (UQ) and Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative (PARDI), research has begun with sensory tasting of the region’s top performing taro varieties among local growers and importers to determine consumer appeal.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">“With a rapidly growing world population, a stronger Pacific taro industry will equate to long-term capacity to feed people in the region and to keep ownership of crops and their associated industries in the Pacific region,” Mr Dullahide said.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">“Grower variety trials are now under way to determine which varieties have the best production capabilities and we envisage that ‘star’ performers from these trials will be identified quite rapidly as taro is a fast-growing crop.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">“Sensory characteristics of several varieties have also been assessed by consumers in Auckland.”</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Mr Dullahide said the research was designed to help the Pacific, one of the world’s biggest producers of taro, realise the value of their most significant root vegetable crop.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">“This research will enable them (Pacific farmers) to have ready-access to clean planting material so they can grow more taro for export to countries like New Zealand, USA and Australia where Pacific taro is in high demand,” Mr Dullahide said.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The research is part of a partnership between the Government of Samoa, Samoan growers, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), University of the South Pacific (USP), Samoan growers, industry groups and various government bodies across the Pacific.</p>
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