International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

BSF Project - Fourth Cycle

Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of the underutilized Taro to Increase Food Security and Livelihood of Marginalized Communities Faced with Climate Change
Where will we work?
Taro has been disregarded in the past. In the face of severe climate uncertainties and increasing demand for alternatives, however, taro proves an excellent crop for food and nutrition security. This Benefit-sharing project will strengthen on-farm and community level conservation, sustainable use and effective management of the genetic resources of this underutilized crop in the Southeast Asia and South Pacific regions. It will introduce and conserve taro varieties that are eco-climatically matched and develop good agricultural practices for higher quality production by involving farmers in areas particularly vulnerable to climate change.
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What will we do?
  • Conduct baseline survey on on-farm conservation and current production practices, in order to identify farmer communities for training and the establishment of a model farm;
  • Screen local cultivars of taro for climate change adaptation and resilience potential;
  • Conduct genetic, nutritional, phytochemical and post-harvest analysis;
  • Establish community seed banks and enhance the local seed system to ensure a continuous supply of planting material;
  • Disseminate taro planting material and encourage crop diversification;
  • Develop a package of good agricultural practices and ICT tools for pest, disease and post-harvest management to be used in farmer field schools;
  • Training for trainers – with recruitment of young and female scientists;
  • Training on post-harvest and marketing strategy for women groups;
  • Raise awareness through a national seminar on taro;
  • Develop a scale-up strategy and mobilization of co-funding to strengthen Treaty implementation in each country.

What is expected to be achieved?
This project aims above all at improving farmers’ livelihoods. The multi-country project will identify a minimum of two taro varieties with promising traits of climate resilience from each of the four participating countries’ selections, and exchange these varieties among partner countries to be disseminated for cultivation in farmers’ fields. A baseline survey will be conducted using participatory rural appraisal and rapid rural appraisal to understand the opportunities and challenges faced by taro growers and to provide ecological intensification support if needed. The project will establish 20 model farms and 200 marginalized farmers will be selected for training on sustainable production and conservation of taro. 20 Farmer Field Schools (FFS) will be established at model farms to train and engage these farmers in related activities such as the introduction of new varieties, pest and disease management, good agriculture practices as well as post-harvest and marketing strategy development. Five community seed banks will be established in selected farming communities. The seed production system will be enhanced through in vitro mass propagation techniques to provide adequate supply of germplasm for cultivation.
Information on consumer acceptance and training materials on the development of taro value chains will be shared amongst stakeholders to strengthen the taro industry. Taro material exchange between the project partner countries will increase Treaty visibility and implementation.

Who will benefit?
200 small-scale farmers, who grow taro for subsistence and commercial use will directly benefit from project activities. Women will be the main beneficiaries for on-farm activities, as they are the custodians of genetic resources. They will also be the recipients of training on post harvest and marketing technologies. 40 researchers, policy makers, extension officers and technicians from agriculture departments will directly benefit from targeted training. 20 young and female scientists will benefit from their involvement in taro research and development programmes. Numerous other smallholder farmers, local traders and extension workers will indirectly benefit from project implementation.
Taro and Yams
Window 2 - Immediate action projects
Region: Asia
Target Countries: Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines
Implementing institution: Malaysia Agriculture Research and Development Institute (MARDI)

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