Salt tolerant taro varieties identified in Palau
Three varieties of Colocasia taro namely Dungersuul, Dirrubong, Kirang were identified as salt tolerant in one of the research trials carried out in Ngimis, Ngatpang in Palau with funding support provided by the AusAID International Climate Change Adaptation Initiative (ICCAI) through the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
The research is led by Dr Aurora Del Rosario, Researcher/Extension Specialist of the Palau Community Colleges Cooperative Research and Extension (PCCCRE) in Koror, in collaboration with Palau Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism (MNRET) and SPC through its Genetic Resources Team of the Land Resources Division.
The salt tolerant screening trials implemented at two different sites in Ngimis Nagatpang and Ollei, Ngarchelong both conducted evaluation of local taro varieties for salt tolerance to salt and one trial looked at screening SPC taro varieties in Ollei.
The Ngimis trial is 8 months old and several replicates were harvested at 8, 9 and 10 months respectively. Research also included treatments which looked at impact of fertilizers and manure. First replicate of the trial was harvested in March 2013 recording all necessary data such as number of suckers produced per variety, number and weight of corms and taste testing of the varieties.
Suckers from three salt tolerant varieties were distributed to farmers which were predominantly female with the objective for further distribution to outer islands.
A total of sixteen crop varieties of Colocasia taro (8), swamp taro (6) and Xanthosoma (2) including salt tolerant varieties were transferred to SPC in March this year as tissue culture material to be included in CePaCTs climate ready collection. The climate ready collection was established in 2009 under the AusAid ICCAI Phase 1 project.
Salt tolerant taro varieties identified will be virus indexed at SPC CePaCT before they become available for sharing and to be incorporated in future breeding program to produce other more resilient taro lines to saline conditions. These new lines will be sent back to Palau for further evaluation as well as to other atoll countries facing similar problems with salt intrusion.
SPC also provided breadfruit and yam varieties as requested by Palau. These crops were hand carried by Valerie S Tuia of SPC LRD Genetic Resources team in March during a technical visit to Palau.
SPC taro (BL/SM 116) and sweet potato varieties planted by one farmer due to good taste and yield
Dr Del Rosario and Mr Taro - Director of PCC receiving tissue culture breadfruits and yams from SPC
The visit was an opportunity to visit farmers field planting SPC crops such as taro leaf blight tolerant varieties (BL/SM/116) and sweet potato varieties planted by some for their good taste and yield.
Sharing of plant genetic resources important for food and agriculture is very critical to sustainable food and nutrition security for Pacific islands.