Taro roots, also known as cocoyam in Nigeria is a staple in many parts of the world including West Africa. The crop is perennial and grown for its roots. Cocoyam is a tuber crop just like the more popular yam. It is also a food crop, cultivated mainly for human consumption. There are two main varieties of cocoyam- Pink and White varieties. A well-drained sandy loam soil is the best for the cultivation of this crop and needs to be fertile with good water retention capacity. Cocoyam also thrives on flooded soils.
Taro roots are starchy and usually handled like yam. It could be fried, boiled, steamed, roasted and even converted into flour for baking. However, it could be toxic if consumed raw. Taro roots go well with soups and stews just like yam and could as well be pounded into a thick bolus. It is rich in healthy nutrients and dietary fibre and has some health benefits highlighted as follows.
It provides about 110 calories per adult serving.
This article will inform you about Taro roots, also known as Cocoyam. The first section of the article covers the cultivation and agronomy of the crop while the second lets you in on the several uses and benefits of the plant.
How to Cultivate Cocoyam
Land Preparation The area for cultivation must be cleared and if need be, ploughed. Ploughing can be done twice, with the second done 15 days after the first. A farmer who prefers to plant in heaps or ridges should make sure there is a space of about one by one meter apart. Planting
The Corms should be cut into appropriately sized Setts before planting. Each sett must have some part of the corm root as well. The optimal planting rate is 10,000 corms per hectare. The Setts should be sown 15-20cm deep on the top of the heaps or ridges. The Sett should also be planted at a slant angle with the cut surface upwards. Fertilizer Application
If the Soil has been previously cultivated, it has lower fertility and therefore needs fertilization for optimum production. NPK 15:15:15 is an inorganic fertilizer suitable for cocoyam.
Time of Planting
There is no specific time of planting cocoyam. Except that, it should be during a period of steady rainfall.
Cocoyam is ready for harvest eight months after planting and can be harvested by uprooting the plant carefully.
Clean the corms instead of washing them. Then store them on raised platforms with proper ventilation. They could also be stored on floors that have been laid with wood ash or left in the soil for up to 3 months without harvesting. Cocoyam can be stored for up to 4 months.
Uses of Cocoyam
i. Taro roots are peeled, cut into pieces then fried, boiled, grated or pounded like pounded yam.
ii. The dried corms can be used to make Cocoyam flour which can be used for confectionary.
iii. Also, the broad leaves are used for wrapping purposes, for example wrapping Kolanuts, Bitter-cola (Orogbo) etc. Nutritional value
Vitamins such as vitamins A, C, E, B6, which are necessary for normal functioning of the body. Taro roots also possess other nutrients like magnesium, potassium, manganese, iron, zinc, phosphorous, and copper. It also contains dietary fibre and carbohydrates. Taro roots even provide proteins too, although in very minute quantities.
Health Benefits of Taro Roots
Blood and Oxygen Circulation: Minerals such as iron and copper present in taro roots help stimulate the production of blood and circulation of oxygen throughout the body. Iron is a critical element for the generation of haemoglobin that the body needs for blood and oxygen flow. Thereby preventing diseases such as anaemia.
Blood Pressure: Potassium, an essential body element present in taro roots supports free movement of fluids between the tissues and membranes in the body, thereby helping the heart and blood vessels to work more efficiently.
Cancer: These days, a lot of things have been highlighted to cause cancer and others have been stated as cancer preventers. Taro root is one of the latter. The high vitamin A and C content it possesses helps to boost the body’s immune system and eliminate free radicals which can cause cancerous cells from the body. A chemical called Cryptoxanthin has been found to lower the risk of developing oral and lung cancers in humans.
Diabetes: dietary fibre present in taro roots preventing sudden rises in the body’s blood sugar thereby decreasing a person’s chances of having diabetes, as it helps regulate insulin release in the body.
Digestion: due to its high dietary fibre content (27% of daily requirement per serving), taro root helps in aiding bowel movement and maintaining good gastrointestinal health. Aforementioned can assist in preventing certain conditions such as excess gas, bloating, cramping, constipation, and even diarrhea. A healthy, regulated gastrointestinal system can significantly boost your overall health and reduce your chances of various types of cancer.
Eyesight: The chemical Cryptoxanthin, as well as beta-carotene, are antioxidants present in taro roots that attack free radicals that could cause damage to important organs like the eyes through cataracts or cancer.
Now, a lot has been said about the benefits of this crop, but for you out there who do not see yourselves cultivating the crop in your gardens. Where can you get taro roots? You should probably check out for it when next you go to the market.
However, if you would like to save yourself the stress of going to the market, and likely ending up with shriveled Cocoyam for all your trouble, Agricmania is your destination. You only have to run a search through the market place on the website and contact the seller for your fresh stuff, firm and hairy with no wrinkling, just perfect with the right nutrients for you and your family.