The European Union (EU) has contributed ?3 million over five years to the newly formed International Network for Edible Aroids (INEA), and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) is one of the project's implementing agencies. INEA is a consortium of scientists and growers from all over the world.

The aim of the Network is to implement a project entitled: Adapting Clonally Propagated Crops to Climatic and Commercial Change. Clonally propagated crops are important to the world's poor, but because they rarely flower or set seed they are slow to respond to changing environments. Edible aroids - taro, tannia, swamp taro, giant taro, elephant foot yam, and more - are the focus of the project.

The inaugural meeting of INEA was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 13 and 14 April 2011. The meeting heard from participants on their achievements to date in the area of edible aroids and their expectations of INEA.

'We are very pleased for participating countries that INEA has come to fruition', said Dr Vincent Lebot, technical coordinator of the project from CIRAD, Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement. 'We can now develop a global network of scientists and farmers, freely exchanging plants and seeds, information and technologies to improve these crops everywhere they are grown', he added.

Dr Lebot was speaking at the opening of INEA's inaugural meeting. SPC, together with CIRAD France and Vanuatu, are implementing agencies of the project, in charge of financial and scientific matters, respectively.

The participating countries in INEA are: Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Cuba, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Samoa, Slovenia, South Africa, and Vanuatu. There are two regional organisations: SPC and CARDI, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, Trinidad; and two international agricultural research organisations: CIRAD and Bioversity International, Italy.European Union Contributes to New International Network on Tropical Root Crops