Several varieties of Colocasia (Chembu) are cultivated across the length and breadth of Kerala. Varieties like Palchembu (Valiya Chembu), Cheriyachembu, Karuthachembu, Vettathunadan and Malayaryan are the local indigenous ones available. Not only the tubers, the leaves and stem are also edible in the case of Colocasia.
The tuber is also known to be the highest water holding tuber crop. It is also an abundant source of calcium, proteins, vitamins and fibres. It can also reduce the cholesterol levels in blood. It can be cultivated both as a main crop or as a mixed crop along with coconut, arecanut or plantain. The rhizomes shooting from the main tuber yield are separated and stored as seeds.
The months from January to June are ideal for planting the seeds covered in cow dung. There must be a gap of 40 centimeters between the pits. The newly planted seeds need to be given a good covering protecting them from direct harsh sun. The harvest can be done from six to eight months of planting.
Central Tuber Research Centre has developed hybrid varieties like Sreekiran, Sreerasmi and Sreepallavi, which can also be used for better yields.