A critical review of the role of taro Colocasia esculenta L. (Schott) to food security: A comparative analysis of Kenya and Pacific Island taro germplasm
Akwee, Edome Peter
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The many threats to global food security in Sub Sahara Africa include poverty, unsustainable cultivation practices and climate change. Increasing poverty and decreasing food security have been exacerbated by continued low food crop productivity by smallholder farmers, constrained by several factors. Taro (Colocasia esculenta L. (Schott.) is a amongst the category of plant species that farmers and researchers have neglected or underutilized crops considered as orphan crops yet they can have the potentials to ameliorate malnutrition and food paucity in developing nations. In Kenya, taro production has suffered low crop productivity leading to underexploitation in terms of popularity of the crop, food security, nutritional aspects and economical contribution to the country earnings. In terms of food production, it does not translate into improved yields for sustained food security and as a result of this; its agricultural production is extremely low. The agronomic potential and importance of taro remains unknown because it has remained as underutilized crop in the country due to little attention attached to the crop. As a result, it has led to dangerous levels of reduced economic livelihoods and loss of its genetic diversity. This paper review interest in neglected taro food crop stems from a variety of factors that could lead to an increased understanding of the adaptation potential of taro to enhance development of efficient and sustainable taro cultivation practices. The review could be a major breakthrough in understanding various biotechnological approaches towards integrating the taro crop into mainstream research for crop improvement and intervention programs. © 201 5 PSCI Publisher All rights reserved. Key words: Taro as a food crop; Under-exploitation; Commercial production; Agronomic potential; Low crop productivity; Undesirable impacts; Economic livelihoods; Genetic diversity; Smallholders farmers.