A field study was carried out at CSIR-Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute at Bunso (lat. 06 46’ N, long. 01 01’ W, 149m above sea level) in the East-Akim District of the Eastern Region to evaluate different soil amendments on growth and yield of three accessions of taro (Colocasia esculenta). It was a 3×4 factorial experiment and treatments were laid in a Randomized Complete Block Design (RCBD) with three replications. The two factors studied were soil amendments and taro accessions. The fertilizer rates were 0, 60 kg NPK/ha, 4 t poultry manure/ha and combined application of 40 kg NPK/ha + 2 t poultry manure/ha. The three taro accessions studied were KA/035, BL/SM/116 and CE/MAL/032. There were variations in the vegetative and growth parameters, yield and yield components and the biochemical composition of the taro accessions. KA/035 was the least in all the vegetative growth parameters, yield and yield components except in plant height and number of suckers. Accessions CE/MAL/032 and BL/SM/116 were statistically the same in all the vegetative growth parameters, yield and yield components except in the number of leaves where BL/SM/116 was significantly higher than CE/MAL/32. Differences in the composition among the accessions were only observed in accession KA/035 in percentage moisture and calcium, while all the other elements were insignificant. Soil amendments did not significantly (P > 0.05) affect number of leaves, number of suckers and disease count but influenced plant height, leaf length and width, cormel weight, number and yield, corm length, diameter yield and total yield. Application of 4 t poultry manure per hectare resulted in greater plant height, cormel weight, number and yield. Generally N source did not significantly affect the composition of the accessions. The results indicated that N application is beneficial to the growth and yield of taro, without having any adverse effects on the biochemical composition of the corms. It is recommended that further studies be done with higher rates of soil amendments, as well as with different soil amendments in an attempt to enhance production and profit margin of farmers. Also, other studies can look at several organic and inorganic fertilizer combinations.

Colocasia esculenta (taro) is believed to be one of the vital world’s most old food crops, with a historical past of more than 2000 years in cultivation. According to Goenaga et al. (1991), taro is a most important food crop in areas including Africa, Pacific and the Caribbean and belongs to the family of Araceae. FAOSTAT (2010) ranked taro the fourteenth major vegetable crops, with about 12 million tonnes produced from about 2 million hectares with a yield of 6.5 t/ha. The crop plays a principal role within the livelihood of farmers in the rural areas, who on the whole resort to cocoyam as their source of everyday energy throughout durations of food shortage and economic stress (Onyeka, 2014). The report of FAO (2012) indicated that nutritionally, taro is superior to cassava and yam with regards to higher protein, mineral and vitamin contents as well as easily digestible starch. According to FAO (1990), the relatively low price of cocoyam compared to yam makes cocoyam a ready alternative for yam during off-seasons. In addition, it also brings foreign exchange where it is produced on large scale (Revill et al., 2005).

The crop is the fourteenth most consumed vegetable worldwide (Lebot and Aradhya, 1991) serves as an export commodity. In Ghana, existing yield levels of taro production are slightly low. Ghana produced 1.8 million metric tonnes as the second highest Colocasia producer after Nigeria in 2005 (FAO, 2005). On a global basis, taro yields 6,000 kg/ha compared with 14,746 kg/ha for potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) and 13,628 kg/ha for sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas L.) FAO (1991). Singh et al. (2012) reported that cocoyam farmers in most African countries use minimal inputs. Regardless of its financial abilities as a food and cash crop and it’s nutritional worth the crop is under exploited and poorly understood. Onyeka (2014) stated that there is nonexistence of well documented and consolidated understanding on taro cultivation even though the crop is contributing extensively to the food security and earnings of many households.

Soil fertility decline is a major constraint to crop production in Ghana. Continuous land cultivation without soil amendment is a major means through which the soil losses essential plant nutrients. In the West African sub region, Ogbonna and Nweze (2012) reported that without soil amendments, growth and yield of taro is drastically reduced. Poultry manure is an effective organic fertilizer and a vital source of plant nutrients. Application of poultry manure helps improve the soil’s physical conditions. Reddy and Reddi (1995) presented the average nutrient composition as 3.03 % N, 2.63 % P2O5 and 1.4 % K2O. Poultry manure is an important means of creating and sustaining optimal physical condition of the soil for proper plant growth and development. Also, it is an affordable means of nitrogen for sustaining agricultural production (Rahman, 2004; Dauda et al., 2008).

Generally, the Pacific and Asian countries produce higher yields of taro than those in the West African countries where it is widely grown (FAO, 1987). Research has indicated that taro yields increased in the tropical soils using inorganic nitrogen fertilizers. According to Manrique (1994), early growth development of taro requires high nitrogen fertilization. Enhanced methods of farming are essential to increase taro yields which may include the use of inorganic fertilizers (Blamey, 1996; Osorio et al., 2003) as constant farming without fertilization decreases crop yield (Hartemink et al., 2000). The information about inorganic fertilization on taro production is inadequate compared to other agricultural crops. Some researchers have shown that NPK fertilization enhanced growth and corm yield of taro (Udoh et al., 2005 and Shiyam et al., 2007). It is known that taro consumes substantial amounts of potassium (O’Sullivan et al., 1996).

The agronomic abilities and value of taro stays unidentified considering the fact that it has remained underutilized and abandoned crop in the country as a result of little awareness on the crop, which has resulted in unsafe levels of reduced economic livelihoods and loss of its genetic diversity (Akwee, 2015). In the last three decades, taro production in Africa has continuously attained an increasing percentage of global cocoyam production, which currently stands at about 10 million tonnes each year (FAO, 2012). This increase largely depends on cultivating extra land than increasing crop yields. This contradicts the predictions of FAO that the 70% growth in the world’s agricultural production required to feed yet another 2.3 billion people by 2050 have got to be carried out by using increased yields and cropping intensity on existing farmlands, as a substitute than increasing the area under cultivation (FAO, 2009). It is, therefore, necessary to conduct research to come out with the appropriate agronomic practices and inputs that will help optimize yield of taro as there is very little information on soil amendment requirements and high yielding varieties.

The objectives of the study were to:

Determine the growth responses of the different taro accessions to soil amendments.

Determine impact of different soil amendments on yield and yield components of taro.

Evaluate the responses of the soil amendments on the nutritional quality of the various accessions.

Determine the best soil amendment that will give optimum yield.

The above objectives were based on the following hypotheses that;

Application of soil amendments will increase yields of taro.

Soil amendments will affect the biochemical composition of taro corm.

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Item Type: Ghanaian Topic  |  Size: 70 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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