Taro, value chains, performance.
Objective: To identify and analyze the links of the taro (Colocasia esculenta) value chain in Actopan, Veracruz, Mexico, focusing on its deficiencies and opportunity areas, and to simulate the yields generated by this crop.
Design/Methodology/Approach: The research was carried out in the town of Santa Rosa, in Actopan, Veracruz, Mexico, with local producers and manufacturers, using both an exploratory and a random descriptive method and a qualitative and quantitative approach. Direct observation, interviews with key informants, and reflection and analysis workshops were carried out to find out which are the links of the value chain and how they operate within the taro agroecosystem in the study region.
Results: The links between inputs supply, production, harvest and post-harvest, collection and distribution, transformation-packing-crating, and commercialization were determined. The main limitation was the area cultivated by half of the producers (0.5 to 3.0 hectares) who obtain an average annual yield of 50 t ha-1. The cost of agricultural inputs is high, the market prices for the product are low, and pest organisms impact the production. Regional middlemen (both retailers and wholesalers) are in charge of commercialization and most of the agreements are informal. The main market for taro and its destination is international (90% for the American market). The best organized packing plant has a 126 to 169% monthly yield.
Study Limitations/Implications: Performance simulations must be carried out in medium and small packing plants to obtain an overall comparison.
Findings/Conclusions: The production and commercialization of taro in the study area generate economic income and local employment throughout the year. Taro also has lower production costs than other crops, as well as a high return on investment. Overall, it benefits the economic agents of the value chain. However, the lack of organization of the participants does not allow them to use economies of scale or to access preferential markets. Consequently, the economic benefits are not distributed equally among all the links.