Tropical root and tuber crops are considered as the third important crops after cereal and grain legume. They contribute 6% of the average daily calorific intake of human beings.
The popular tuber crops include sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), cassava (Manihot esculenta), taro (Colocasiaesculenta), yam (Diascorea sp.), elephant foot yam (Amorphaphallus paeoniifolius), yam bean (Pachyrrhizus erosus), arrowroot (Marantaarundinaceae), etc constitute cheap source of food and energy particularly suitable for the poor section of human population and capable enough to withstand biotic and abiotic stresses.
The tribal/rural people of Nagaland are already in the habit of growing the crops like tapioca, Colocasia and sweet potato in the Jhum or shifting cultivation fields. Root and tuber crops have traditional place in our daily diet.
Sweet potato/cassava and Colocasia are grown considerably not only for consumption by the people but also cultivated for addition income for most of the rural household and animal feed. Most of the tubers crops are grown as mixed crop with ginger, chilli, brinjal, beans etc.
They play a vital role in food security and nutrition of not only for the people of urban but also for the lower income group people of rural areas/villages.
Diversity of tuber crops in Nagaland
Nagaland is considered to be one of the richest reservoirs of genetic variability
of tuber crops i.e. Colocasia, sweet potato, cassava etc. Considerable diversity has been reported in district belt of Tuensang, Mon, Wokha, Mokuchung and peren.
Much diversity in Colocasia occurs in shoot/leaf thickness, shape, Colour & size of corm. In sweet potato mainly two types are available in the region i.e. red and white.In Tapioca both sweet and bitter types are available.
Prospect in Nagaland
• Soil and climatic conditions are highly favourable for different tuber crops.
• Rich biodiversity of tuber crops in the region.
• These crops require less care and can be grown on marginal land.
• Tuber crops can be grown as intercrop in perennial orchards/plantation crops
• Tuber crops can be grown under rainfed as well as in irrigated areas.
• Wide genetic diversity could be used for creating the gene bank. Collection, conservation and utilization of tuber crops would benefit the farmers of the region.
• Root and tuber crops play vital role in human nutrition, Livelihood for rural people for income generation.
• There are lot of ITK’s (Indigenous Technical Knowledge)
• There are ample opportunities for exploring opportunities
for export of tuber crops.
The high nutritional qualities indicate that the cultivation and consumption of these crops may be helpful in overcoming the nutritional deficiencies in many rural areas.
In the present context of rapid increase of population and consequent shortage of food grains, collection and utilization of various types of tuber crops are considered very essential.
There is need for post harvest management and value addition for exploitation of these tuber crops, along with the installation of processing units.
It has been observed that technological gap and extension gap is one limiting factor where yield productivity is low, hence for Sustainable yield, Horizontal approach is the need of the hour, starting with production and distribution of large scale high quality planting material, timely intercultural operations, harvest and proper method of storage.
Subject Matter Specialist (GBP) KVK, Tuensang