Taro is the most commonly grown vegetable crop in Samoa, eaten as both flesh and leaves and processed into flour. Taro leaf blight (TLB) is primarily a leaf disease which is capable of totally destroying the canopies of susceptible plants.
This Small Research Activity (SRA) funded study completed in May 2019 has provided new information on how long Phytophthora colocasiae (causal agent of TLB) can survive on taro corms.
By adopting a systems approach to producing, harvesting and handling taro, Samoan farmers could reduce the risk of corm infection to negligible levels.
This includes only using varieties that are tolerant to TLB; reducing the sources of infection by regularly removing affected taro leaves; harvesting for export only during dry weather; and preliminary washing and cleaning of taro in an area that’s remote from plantations and any infected crops.