Food Diversity For Food Security
Marlina Ardiyani, Indonesian Institute of Sciences

There is an incredibly high demand for rice as a foodstuff in Indonesia. Therefore, we are studying carbohydrate alternatives, especially those from tubers. Indonesia has a vast diversity of tuber plants, for example “Ubi jalar” or sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas), black potatoes (Solanostemon rotundifolia), “Garut” (Maranta arundinacea), “Gembili” (Dioscorea esculenta), “Talas” (Araceae family), and “Kecondang” (Tacca leontopelaoides). Some species are well studied, but some need further research especially wild species or those that are not so popular as a food source. We have been improving the quality of the tubers using selection techniques, mutation and polyploidisation. We have also been developing propagation techniques using vegetative parts and generative (seeds) as well as tissue culture methods to cultivate wild species of Tacca leontopetaloides that have a carbohydrate content of more than 80%. This species grows on the seashore and in dry soil. Therefore, they may be useful to cultivate on small islands that are experiencing drier conditions due to climate change. Some ethnic groups have developed the tuber of this species, and its flour is used to make various foods. We have produced varieties of black potatoes with higher carbohydrate content than white potatoes. We have also selected tubers of Cassava (Manihot esculenta) with high betacarotene components which is a precursor of vitamin A. We have also characterized carbohydrate content of Cassava and black potatoes and analyzed their potential to produce functional food components such as oligosaccharides. There are still many wild tuber plants in the forest waiting to be developed.

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