Taro in Western Samoa is of major importance to the economy both as a stable food and more recently as an export. The development of a stable export market has been difficult due mainly to instability in the domestic market caused by periods of acute shortages when prices rise rapidly and periods of oversupply when prices are depressed below the costs of production.

One method to stabilize taro production is the development of stable processed forms which can be stored for considerable periods of time. The Food Processing Laboratory has been conducting research and development of taro flour-based products as well as frozen taro products.

Production and distribution of a taro flour-based baby weaning food has been underway for some time, and the program is now being extended to the villages. Preliminary baking trials using up to 65 percent taro flour were quite encouraging, but a more practical level of substitution would be at the 10 to 20 percent level.

Combinations of frozen taro and coconut cream have also been developed, but still require market evaluation.

While the technology for development of these products is well established, the costs of taro production in Western Samoa indicate that the utilization of taro flour in bread will require a 259substantial reduction in the price of taro. Production of baby weaning food and frozen taro products appears to be a more promising avenue for development.