Roots and tubers: A potential cash cow in the Caribbean

Slimdown 360’s instant mash products have a shelf life of 1 year (Photo via Spore)
Slimdown 360’s instant mash products have a shelf life of one year (Photo via Spore)

Root and tuber crops (RTCs) such as arrowroot, cassava, dasheen, eddoe, ginger, sweet potato, tania and yam are farmed throughout the Caribbean and remain a staple of traditional diets. Belize, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname and some eastern Caribbean countries are self-sufficient in RTCs with Jamaica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines leading regional exports.

However, with the capacity to create value-added products for local consumption and export, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has identified cassava, sweet potato and yam with the highest potential for development.

RTC crops can withstand up to 98 per cent of hurricane disasters and have good potential even as regional climate patterns change, as planting material can be sourced locally, and farmers are familiar with RTC production. RTCs are also valued for their ‘good’ complex carbohydrates, which provide better glycemic indices (food’s effect on a person’s blood sugar), compared to imported refined carbohydrates; they are also high in dietary fibre and low in calorie count, which are important considerations for health-conscious markets in Europe.

Read more at: SPORE