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University of KwaZulu-Natal (2012)

Taro [Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott] production by small-scale farmers in KwaZulu-Natal : farmer practices and performance of propagule types under wetland and dryland conditions

Shange, Lindiwe Princess

Titre : Taro [Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott] production by small-scale farmers in KwaZulu-Natal : farmer practices and performance of propagule types under wetland and dryland conditions.

Auteur : Shange, Lindiwe Princess

Université de soutenance : University of KwaZulu-Natal

Grade : Master of Science (M.Sc.Agric.) 2012

Résumé partiel
Ethno-archaeological evidence shows that taro [Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott] originated in Asia. It may have been brought into South Africa a few hundred years after 300 BC from Madagascar, where Malaysian settlers introduced it about 300 BC. The crop is grown in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, largely for subsistence on farms. In South Africa, taro is mainly produced in the subtropical coastal belt, stretching from Bizana in the Eastern Cape to the KwaZulu-Natal north coast. Although it is a staple crop for the subsistence farmers who grow it, there are no data on taro agronomy in South Africa. The hypothesis of this study was that traditional knowledge about taro production practices is not adequate to form a basis for agronomic and extension interventions to promote the status of the crop to that of a commercial commodity. A survey was conducted at two districts in KwaZulu-Natal, Umbumbulu and Ndwedwe, where taro is a staple crop. The objective of the survey was to determine the cultural practices associated with taro production, including knowledge about varieties, agronomy, plant protection, storage and marketing. Qualitative data obtained from the survey was used to plan an investigation into the agronomy of taro. The survey showed that subsistence farmers at Ndwedwe and Umbumbulu used traditional methods for taro production that had very small influence from the extension services from the Department of Agriculture. The farmers identified three varieties of taro, which they designated as the "red", "white" and "Zulu" types. The "red" and "white" designations were based on consistent crop morphological characteristics. This finding confirmed the reliability of indigenous knowledge for crop classification.The survey also revealed that wetland and dryland conditions are used to produce taro. At Umbumbulu, production occurred predominantly under dryland conditions, whereas at Ndwedwe there was an almost even utilisation of both wetlands and drylands.

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