Farmers in Lae learn to grow taro

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A field day at the National Agriculture and Research Institute (Nari) at Bubia, Lae, yesterday involved farmers learning methods of farming and producing  taro for consumption and marketing.
Farmers from Markham, Mumeng and other parts of Morobe were showed best ways to produce taro suitable for local markets and possibly export quality.
Crop breeder-scientist with Nari Jeffery Waki during his discussions with farmers told them that commercial farming of taro required certain steps in order to produce marketable taros. He said though that the food crop was new to the market, it had huge demand in markets in Port Moresby and other centres and that meant farmers had to meet certain standards to produce quality crop.
A field visit by farmers to Nari plots at the Bubia Research Station revealed how taro was affected by pests, how to harvest and avoid damage and disease control.
Waki told the farmers that the main disease associated with taro was taro leaf blight (TLB).
“TLB usually affects taro two to three months after planting and this disease can affect the whole farm if not controlled early,” he said.
Waki said taro was a food crop that Nari cross-bred to withstand the changing climate and it was also addressing the food security concept.
Biotechnology junior scientist Joel Pilon, while demonstrating how to prepare suckers for planting, said Nari did not use chemicals to produce taros rather it was the way cross-breeding, proper planting techniques and care given that produced results.

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