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Mashua tubers. In the high, cold altitudes of the Andes, mashua functions like cassava in the tropical lowlands. It requires little care and can be stored in the ground and harvested when the need arises. For this reason, therefore, mashua appeals to poor people and has been unjustly stigmatized as being an undesirable crop. To the thousands of highland people who know it best, however, it is a delicious food. (S. King)

LIMITATIONS

Like arracacha, oca, and ulluco, mashua is apparently heavily infected with plant viruses, most of which are undescribed.13 One recent test identified it as a carrier of potato leaf roll virus.14

There is a possibility that consuming large quantities of mashua, combined with low intakes of iodine, could cause goiter.15 This is unlikely in most diets; nonetheless, goiter is a problem in parts of the Andes—for instance, Bolivia.

RESEARCH NEEDS

Further collections of mashua germplasm are needed throughout the Andes. Relict populations from Argentina and Chile may provide germplasm with more adaptability to long daylengths.

Mashua sets seed freely and hybridizes well. Thus, there seems to be considerable potential for breeding new and improved types.

Much basic information on the plant's gross horticultural requirements is needed. Investigation of its ecology in field situations and evaluation of its intercropping potential could lead to higher yields and, consequently, to broader utilization.


13 Information from A. B. Brunt.
14 Information from J. Martineau.
15 Glucosinolates are metabolized into isothiocyanates, thiocynates, and thioureas, a class of chemicals that is goitrogenic. Information from T. Johns.


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