Subsistence agriculture based on root crops staples is the mainstay of Vanuatu economy. VARTC Root Crops Section aims to develop and to promote the utilisation, processing and marketing of root crops within sustainable cropping systems so as to reduce dependence on imports and to improve socio-economic welfare of smallholders.
The main objective of this section is to maintain and to preserve local and exotic genetic resources, to develop improved varieties that will be duplicated in-situ and then distributed to farmers.
At this date, the following Root Crops cultivars are available at VARTC:
- 300 cultivars of yam (Local, exotic & hybrids)
- 400 cultivars of taros (Local, exotic & hybrids)
- 100 cultivars of sweet potatoes (Local, exotic & hybrids)
- 25 cultivars of manioc (Local, exotic & hybrids)
- 75 cultivars of kava (including 12 varieties of noble kava)
The main activities led within this section are :
- Research on root crops diversification
- Protection against pest and diseases
- Resilience to climate change
- Development of sustainable farming systems
- Development of materials with interesting characteristics (shape / taste / colour) to develop appropriate marketing offers
VARTC encourages the involvement of producers in the research programme, thereby ensuring that the research activities are focussed on their needs. For all root crops, more information is needed about the suitability of the selected varieties for marketing and processing. Although the bulk of the production is for subsistence, a huge amount is marketed locally and the export market has tremendous potential for development. The major thrust of this programme involves disseminating planting material and technical packages to ensure that research activities are meeting the requirements of the farmers. Once selection procedures have been completed at VARTC and identified cultivars are assessed in farmers’ fields.