St. Vincent and the Grenadines pins its hopes on the increasingly popular and highly nutritious vegetable, dasheen, as a potential driver of rural development and rural production capacity
Kingstown, 10 February 2023 (IICA). Dasheen—a highly nutritious vegetable that is increasingly popular in international markets—was declared a priority crop in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, given that its value chain may be key to fostering economic and social development in that Caribbean nation.
In recent times, dasheen—also known as taro or malanga in some Latin American countries—has been instrumental in diversifying agriculture on that island nation, which for decades depended exclusively on banana cultivation. Today, exports to the United States, France and the United Kingdom have promoted an expansion of the area under cultivation of the tuber, which has been a traditional food source in many the world’s tropical regions and is now a strategic commodity for Caribbean countries.
The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labor of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Saboto Caesar, pledged the support of the State for dasheen production, which despite tremendous growth in the country in recent years, still has the potential to be expanded, considering that local, regional and international demand has still not been satisfied completely.
This month the Minister organized a meeting of more than 250 dasheen farmers, sellers and other value chain stakeholders, discussing how to support the sustainable growth of the tuber’s production and how to ensure that small farmers receive a fair price for their labor.
Blue gold for development
Dasheen is known as “blue gold”, because most varieties acquire a bluish color when cooked. The volcanic soils of St. Vincent are ideal for this crop and the ashes deposited in the agricultural regions of the country after the 2021 eruption of La Soufrière Volcano have infused a unique flavor into the crop.
It is an extremely versatile tuber that can be used in sauces, ice cream, pizza, salads and soup. It is similar to potato and therefore can be fried, boiled or roasted. Its leaves are much like spinach and can be cooked in various ways.
Dasheen is rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals and has medicinal properties in addition to its high nutritional value.
It also provides tremendous benefits to farmers, as it requires few production inputs and is a high-yielding crop.
Dasheen can withstand extreme climate events such as flooding and produces minimal impact on natural resources, making it an environmentally friendly crop.
It takes between 7 to 12 months to reach maturity and during that time, the soil remains undisturbed, therefore contributing to carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation. Moreover, given that the entire plant can be used in cooking, it generates practically zero waste and has a low carbon footprint.
Institutional Communication Division.