The Further Development of Organic Systems for the Production and Multiplication of the Polynesian Arrowroot and Other Medicinal Plants in the CNMI

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2004: $7,500.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Region: Western
State: Northern Mariana Islands
Principal Investigator:

Annual Reports


  • Additional Plants: medicinal plants


  • Crop Production: organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, cooperatives, market study, value added
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management
  • Soil Management: green manures, composting, organic matter, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: public participation, sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    Since 1998, Felix Mendiola has been growing medicinal plants, primarily tacca, known locally as gapgap or Polynesian arrowroot. From 90 tubers obtained in the wild, his crop now covers a full acre with 30,000 plants. Tacca, rich in natural starch, was traditionally cultivated in small farm plots or village gardens for medicinal uses and consumption. But it has been replaced with imported rice and flour. Over-harvest has reduced wild populations and increased the price of tacca starch to an average of $100 a pound, too expensive for food use. Mendiola plans to create a cooperative learning experience and to lure other local farmers into cultivating tacca to increase production and bring down the price, making it affordable for consumers in the Mariana Islands chain. The tacca, which likes shade, will be planted with papaya.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.