Tropical Root and Tuber Crops: Treasures from the Soil

ST Parvathy & SS Amma


The lush green plant canopy covering the earth is a fascinating feast for the eyes, making our planet more beautiful and inhabitable by giving oxygen we breathe. Leaves are the plant factories that synthesise food by photosynthesis. But have you ever wondered about the enchanting underground world of plants, especially the roots, hidden below the soil?

Plants need roots to anchor and absorb water and nutrients from the soil, and nitrogen fixation in legumes through a symbiotic association of Rhizobium bacteria in roots. The food synthesised in leaves is stored in the seeds (cereals), stem (sugarcane) or roots of some plants, which humans and animals consume. We commonly refer to the root storage organs as tubers, although roots and tubers are different biologically. Roots are low in dry matter and proteins when compared to tubers and primarily contain sugars, while tubers are underground stems that store starch.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Rome, ‘roots and tubers’ are plants yielding starchy roots, tubers, corms and stems and exclude crops that are cultivated mainly for feed or processing into sugar (sugar beets) and those classified as ‘roots, bulb and tuberous vegetables’ such as…read more on NOPR