Taro (Colocasia esculenta) is a widely grown vegetatively propagated food crop in the Benin Republic. The taro leaf blight (TLB) epidemic in 2009, caused by Phytophthora colocasiae, has destroyed taro production and wiped out many taro landraces in West Africa. A survey was conducted in the southern region of Benin to assess the status of taro and TLB, ethnobotany, farmers' perceptions of taro, and identify production constraints. A structured questionnaire was used to collect information from 24 farmers in 17 villages across six departments, and the TLB incidence was assessed in the same fields. The results revealed the prevalence of TLB across all the villages and a sharp reduction in production since the TLB epidemic. The TLB incidence ranged from 25 to 100%, however, the mean symptom severity score per field assessed on a 1 to 5 rating scale varied between 0.25 and 2.8. Awareness about the TLB or good crop management practices was low. Integrated methods for TLB control and improved agronomic management are crucial to enhance taro yields. In the long term, introducing resistant varieties is critical for the sustainable management of TLB and taro production in Benin.
Key words: Taro, taro leaf blight, Phytophthora colocasiae, ethnobotany, Benin, Africa.
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