|Better Farming Series 16. Roots and Tubers (FAO, 1977, 58 p.)|
|Tania and taro|
|How to grow tania and taro|
In general, the same methods are used for both plants.
Tania and taro are usually propagated from small tubers or pieces of tuber.
Sometimes the suckers, or new shoots that appear some distance from the parent plant, are used.
With tania, pieces of the aerial stem can sometimes be used, or the main tuber if it has become too hard to eat.
The tubers, pieces of tuber or of aerial stem are cut into pieces 10 to 15 centimetres long; the leaf- stalks are cut at about 10 centimetres from the junction with the leaf.
Tania and taro may be planted by themselves. Or they may be planted with other crops in the same field.
For example, they can be grown in the shade of a plantation of plantains. They can also be grown under the dense foliage of big forest trees.
Because tania and taro have large leaves, they may be used as a cover crop when starting a new cocoa plantation.
Planting is done at the beginning of the rainy season in rather shallow holes.
When grown alone, the distance between the holes may be 60 centimetres in all directions, or else 60 centimetres by 80 centimetres.
When grown with other crops, for example, when tania and taro are used to shade young cocoa trees, the distance between the holes varies between 50 centimetres and 1 metre.
Tania and taro require very little care. One or two cultivations in the early stages of growth are all that is necessary before the harvest. Often the plants are lightly earthed up when these cultivations are carried out.
Depending on variety, tania and taro are between 6 and 14 months in the field.
The tubers are ripe and ready for harvest when the leaves turn yellow and the plant begins to wither.
The fully ripe tubers should be harvested in dry weather. If you harvest during the dry season, the tubers may be left in the earth for some time and will not spoil.
When the field is wet, the ripe tubers must be harvested quickly. They may sprout and will then be no good for human food.
Each tania or taro plant may yield several harvests during one crop period.
As a rule, the harvests should be organized as follows:
- For tania
The first harvest begins about 3 months after planting. Three months after this first harvest, you can take three or four additional harvests from each plant. After each of these additional harvests, wait 2 or 3 weeks before taking tubers again from the same plant.
- For taro
The first harvest begins 6 to 8 months after planting. After that, harvest again two or three times from the same plant at intervals of 2 or 3 weeks.
When harvesting dig out the soil right up to the plant, take the biggest tubers and detach them from the parent plant. Then fill in the hole. Let the young tubers develop before harvesting again.
The harvested tubers are cleaned and can be sold fresh.
But tania and taro tubers may be kept for some time, and eaten as and when needed.
To keep the tubers for some months after harvesting, you must prevent them from rotting.
To do that, put the tubers on dry ground, or on boards supported on posts, in a well- aired, dry, cool place, sheltered from the sun and rain.