Specialty Crop Profiles
These crops support:
- commercial and non-commercial plantings of all sizes, including homegardens
- small-scale commercial operations suitable for family farms and gardens
- local food production for happier and healthier communities
- traditional crops
- integrating trees and crops (agroforestry)
- community food self-reliance.
Tea is the most widely consumed beverage after water. It has a cooling, slightly bitter, astringent flavor. The three most common types of tea are black, green, and oolong. There are also some less common types such as white and yellow teas and compressed teas (e.g., puerh), as well as numerous flavored and scented teas. All of these teas have in common that they use the leaves of the same plant, Camellia sinensis, but they are processed in different ways.
Ginger is used throughout the world as a spice or fresh herb in cooking and a variety of other value-added products including flavoring in candies, beverages, liqueurs, ice cream, baked goods, curry powder blends, sauces, and various condiments. Ginger is also used in traditional medicine to treat several ailments including nausea, motion sickness, migraine, dyspepsia, and to reduce flatulence and colic. Young rhizomes that are harvested early are also used in pickles and confectionery.
Whole fresh pumpkin and squash fruits are the primary product of commerce. Cooked squash may be canned or dried for storage. Seed can also be consumed. Flowers and tender vine tips of all edible types are sold and consumed as vegetables. Male flowers and vine tips provide a source of income for growers prior to fruits reaching marketable stage, although care should be taken to leave some male flowers as a pollen source for female flowers. Selective, judicial harvesting of young shoots should preserve and promote canopy development and is not expected to significantly reduce yields.
The primary food products from Colocasia taro throughout much of the Pacific islands for both subsistence and commercial purposes include: corm, leaves, and petiole, which can be prepared in a number of ways. The corm is boiled in water, baked, fried, or steamed in underground earth ovens (known in various languages as imu, umu, um, and lovo). The leaves and petioles are often boiled and served as a kind of spinach.
Dried kernels are roasted and manufactured by processors and industrial users into a wide number of products featuring whole or half kernels that are unsalted, dusted with finely ground confectionery salt, or flavored. Chocolate-coated kernels have become a major product. Second grade and broken kernels (pieces) are used in confectionery products such as brittles and candies or diced for use as garnishes, ice cream, sherbets, cakes, and pastries. Kernels are also milled into a premium nut butter and the oil is extracted for use in food and cosmetics.