The Further Development of Organic Systems for the Production and Multiplication of the Polynesian Arrowroot and Other Medicinal Plants in the CNMI
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 had covered 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.
The objectives of this project are 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.
This grant has been extended for one owing to the destruction of commercial crops from several typhoons in the summer of 2004. In addition, the rainy season for 2005 was delayed by a month, further impeding progress on the grant.
The arrowroot was scheduled to be replanted in July 2005 with remnants from the typhoon-ravaged crop, and the second crop planned under the grant was expected to be planted in June 2006.
Office Phone: 6705329511