GABI (Colocasia esculenta)
ROSALES, Katrina Luisa R.
Polytechnic University of the Philippines – Sta. Mesa
October 24, 2018
Gabi (Colocasia esculenta) or taro crop is one of the most imperative root crops in the Philippines. Despite its widespread development, this root crop is usually planted in regions not really suitable for its culture since staple food (i.e., rice and corn) and vegetables are much given priority in terms of occupying good production areas. Even though gabi can grow in major and minor areas, it can grow normally and produce well if it is cultivated in more suitable areas with the right soil and rainfall that is needed by gabi crop.
The gabi crop is best planted in wide variety of soils either upland (dryland) or lowland (wetland). The term upland refers to the production of the crop under non-flooding conditions. In upland cultivation, the best results are attained on deep and well-drained soil. While in lowland cultivation, the area is usually low-lying, with abundant supply of fresh water for irrigation. The best results are attained if the soil is alluvial, meaning the soil is muddy, or the soil is formed by sediments deposited by flowing water. Although gabi crop can grow in water-logged areas, it is usually does not grow in these areas because the temperature of water that build-up during hot days causes the gabi crop to respire more.
Gabi crop can usually grow in warm and moist environment. Rainfall is very essential especially in upland gabi. In areas with distinct dry and wet periods, planting upland gabi should be timed in such a way that the first four to five months of growth should receive a good amount of rain. For lowland gabi, as long as there is a continuous supply of fresh and cool water, rainfall pattern is not critical.
For gabi, an average temperature of 27-29°C daily is ideal. If it is below 27°C, the crop is reduced. If it is 29°C and above, the plants would be underdeveloped and the crop would greatly depressed.
In upland culture, gabi can be planted in furrow or bed in flatbeds. If a flatbed culture is preferred but the irrigation system is not possible, setts (planting materials) should be (8-10 cm) during dry periods and shallower (4-5 cm) during wet periods. Mulch can also be spread around the gabi plants to conserve moisture and control the growth of weeds. It can also be planted in holes about 15 cm wide and 20 cm deep. A sett is placed in one hole and is partially covered with soil. As the gabi grows, the holes are gradually filled with soil.
In lowland culture, the gabi is planted in flat beds and the setts are inserted for about 4-5 cm deep by hand into the puddled soil.
Weeding and Cultivation
Gabi is sensitive to weed competition. During the first 8-10 weeks after planting gabi, the weeds should be removed from the fields for both upland and lowland cultures. After this period, the weed competition should not be tolerated especially if the plant canopy has not yet closed.
For upland culture, the weeds could be manually removed by hand weeding or by plowing inter-row spaces during off barring and hilling up operations. Chemical weed control can also be used as long as the plants are thoroughly protected.
For lowland, it is enough that the weed control is properly maintained by regulating the depth of the water in the paddy.
One good way of controlling the growth of weeds is by planting intercrops like legumes, specifically mungo, since it grows in a short period of time and matures early before the gabi canopy closes.
The time of harvest for gabi depends on the variety used. But normally, upland gabi matures earlier than lowland gabi. The size of the gabi is the best indicator for the maturity of gabi. A mature gabi plants has leaves that are yellowish and the petioles are becoming short, but this should not be mistaken for drought effects.
NUTRITIONAL VALUE OF GABI CROP
Gabi contains abundant organic compounds, minerals, and vitamins that are essential and can benefit for our overall health in number of different ways. Gabi contains a very significant amount of dietary fiber, as well as high levels of vitamin A, C, E, B6, and folate, as well as magnesium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, and copper. Gabi also provides some protein, but the amount is almost negligible.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF GABI CROP
Digestive Health: One of the most important functions of gabi is its role in digestion. The high level of dietary fiber found in gabi is very important in supporting our gastrointestinal health.
Cancer Prevention: Gabi also contains high levels of vitamin A, vitamin C, and other phenolic antioxidants that can boost our immune system and helps in eliminating free radicals in our system.
Diabetes: Dietary fiber can also help in lowering the chances of developing diabetes for it helps in regulating the release of insulin and glucose in the body.
Blood Pressure and Heart Health: Gabi contains significant level of potassium, which facilitates the fluid transfer between membranes and tissues throughout our body. It also helps in relieving stress and pressure on blood vessels and arteries.
Boosts Vision: Gabi contains antioxidants which include beta-carotene and cryptoxanthin that can help to improve vision. It can also prevent the free radicals from attacking ocular lenses that can cause macular degeneration or cataracts.
Skin Health: Vitamin E and vitamin A in gabi are both essential in eliminating skin conditions and boost overall cellular health.
Immune System: Gabi has a very high level of vitamin C, which stimulates the immune system to create more white blood cells that defends the body from foreign pathogens and agents.
Circulation Stimulation: The presence of iron and copper in gabi helps to prevent anemia and boost circulation throughout the body.