Yam is the common name for some plant species in the genus Dioscorea that form edible tubers. They are perennial herbaceous vines cultivated for the consumption of their starchy tubers in many temperate and tropical world regions.
The West African region cultivates 90% of the yam produced in the whole world and Nigeria alone produces about 68% making it the highest yam producers in the world.
Available Varieties of Yams
The available varieties of yams in West Africa are:
– Discorea alata (Water Yam)
– Discorea builfera (Aerial Yam)
– Discorea dumentorum (Sweet Yam)
– Discorea rotunda (White Yam)
– Discorea cayenesis (Yellow Yam)
How to start yam farming business in Nigeria
The first step in starting a yam farming business is to understand the best climate for growing yams. Yams are better grown in a temperature of 250c-300c and the soil should be mulched to reduce the temperature.
Yams are grown on free draining, sandy and fertile soil, after clearing the first fallow. The land is prepared in the form of mound or ridge or heap of 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) height.
Land preparation in yam farming
Depending on the nature of your farm, you can use crude implements like hoes and cutlasses or advanced farm implements. If you are into commercial agriculture then the later will be the best option to maximise profit.
Method of propagation
Yams are propagated through the following methods:
– Yam set: This is planted to produce ware yam.
– Yam minisetts: This is a new technology that is aimed at ensuring mass production of yam planting materials.
The yam minisetts produce small whole tuber known as seed yam.
– Seed yam: Production of yam as well as minisett technology. It is a small whole tuber that can be used as planting material.
Early yam planting: This is between October to November
Late yam planting: This is between March to April (when rain commences)
The yam will be first treated with cypermethrin, mocozeb or neem leaves solution.
Four spoons of macozeb should be added to 4 litres of water. Adequate quantity of wood ash will then be added into the mixture and stirred.
Put the yam setts into sides/bottom perforated bowl and small basket and dip it into the prepared solution for 2 to 5 minutes. Allow the yam setts to air dry for 1 to 2 hours before planting.
Plant with the cut surface upward and slantly placed at angle 450. The planting depth varies with the planting month:
For October-November planting it should be 12-15cm deep while for March- April planting it should be around 6-10cm deep.
Yam sett/seed yam: 1×1 metre (10,000/ha)
Yam miniset: 25cm x 1 metre (40,000/ha)
Mulching: Mulching is the covering of the ridges or heaps with dry plant debris.It is done to conserve soil moisture, reduce soil temperature and prevent rotten of yam setts.
Staking: Staking ensures adequate exposure of leaf surface to sunlight and strong sticks or bamboos should be used. It increased productivity and yield.
Training of vines: This should be regularly done after staking to ensure the neatness and even spreading of the vines.
Weeding: Weeding should be regularly done n order to control pests and reduce competition between the crops and the weeds.
Health Benefits Of Yam
– Yams are good sources of Vitamin B6
– They help in the healing of skin diseases and cure of some respiratory problems
– Reduce the symptoms of premenstrual disorder
– Prevents hormonal imbalance
– They cure morning sickness
– They keep strong bones during pregnancy
– Yams aid in the digestion of food
– Improves bowel habits
– Promotes the production of collagen
– Yams accelerate wound healing in skin
– They reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke
– Yams control the blood pressure
– They prevents the spike of cholesterol
– They prevent anaemia
– Promotes the Production of Red Blood Cells
– Yams improve blood flow or circulation
– Yams help in the prevention of cancer
These are some of the amazing benefits of yam that are worth knowing. The production of yams is a very lucrative business anyone can engage into. It requires little capital and doesn’t involve much risk. You can even combine it with other crops to maximise profit.