Production Status and Prospects of Cocoyam (Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott.) in East Africa

Department of Crop Science, Makerere University, P. O. Box 7062, Kampala, UGANDA
Journal of Root Crops 01/2009; 35:98-107.


The extent of production and consumption of cocoyam in East Africa is not known neither is the types of cocoyam being grown. This is partly because both researchers and research administrators have ignored it as legitimate crop for research and development (R&D), and their production system is regarded as an informal production activity, managed outside conventional market and economic channels. Yet, in the region, cocoyam is contributing substantially to the food and income security of many households. This study was aimed primarily at providing baseline information for understanding cocoyam production systems and management factors associated with cocoyam production system in the Lake Victoria crescent. A total of 270 survey responses, representing eight districts of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda collected during 2006 and 2007 were analysed. Results of the survey indicate that cocoyam cultivation is entrenched in the crop production systems in the East African region characterised by widespread, small-scale cocoyam growing within the wetlands under rain-fed conditions. Farmers grow the crop for increased food security and to supplement income. It is eaten by people of all ages and is particularly fed to weaned children, and usually sold at farm gate. However, farmers consider the current cocoyam yields as low and still declining due to declining soil fertility, unavailability of planting material and improved varieties, weeds, pests and diseases, limited land for expansion, and lack of deliberate research and extension effort to support cocoyam production, utilization and consumption. Consequently, production of cocoyam in East Africa is lagging behind that of other root and tuber crops. This report gives premise for interventions that can result, in the short run, in the improvement of cocoyam production and utilization, and harness its contribution to food and income security of farmers in East Africa.

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    • "They are important tuberous vegetables cultivated for their edible tubers and tender ., 2009). However, little is known about their extent of production, cultivation, types he taxonomy of the plant (Talwana et al., 2009, There are two major varieties of Colocasia, namely esculenta var esculenta, with a large central corm, with suckers and stolons and C. esculenta var antiquorum characterized with a small central corm and a large number of smaller cormels (Gomez 2006; Seetohul et al., 2008). Most edible species of Xanthosoma are either X. sagittifolium (Okoye et al., 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: Most popular edible aroid commonly called cocoyam belong to the genera Colocasia (Schott) and Xanthosoma (Schott); are tuber crops introduced into Africa from Asia and tropical America respectively. These crops are grown in all parts of tropical and sub-tropical regions where they have high adaptability, acceptance and serve as auxillary crop plant for food income security. The present study aims to collect cocoyam germplasm from local agriculture systems in Edo state, Nigeria and characterize them using molecular marker techniques. Random stratified sampling method was used to collect the plant genetic resources based on IBPGR and IPGRI descriptors. Collecting cocoyam germplasm is first reported in Nigeria in this study. Collected germplasm were planted out for trial in a home garden plot situated in the University of Benin, Nigeria. After 6 months, leaves were harvested for Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis to characterize the accessions. RAPD-PCR was conducted at Biochemistry Division, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba-Lagos state. Differences in the pattern of bands pro after gel electrophoresis reveal the crops are diverse within the state. Dendrogram constructed from the data matrix suggests two trees with varied number of lines. These lines were inferred as different varieties of the species of the two genera. Some of the accessions precisely IA, HD, BB and JC were not clustered into any group. This suggests that these accessions are unique and distinct within and between the two genera of cocoyam. The banding pattern were similar within species and different between species, but was not able to distinguish all the varieties from one another. Cluster analysis gave 8-10 groups in two branches corresponding to specific associations with little filtration observed among these groups. The dendrogram implicates accession BB as been unique among all the thirty six accessions studied. Its intermediate response suggests either a branch off point or pure line. Jaccard’s similarity clustered the accessions into six groups. The RAPD-PCR could swerve as a basis for other characterization works on the 36 accessions of cocoyam for the basis of conservation and sustainable utilization
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