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{Farmer Outlets}{126-128 Ekoro Road, Abule Egba}{Abule Egba}{100276}{Lagos}{Nigeria}{(234) 70592-32172}
126-128 Ekoro Road, Abule Egba Lagos Lagos
Phone: (234) 70592-32172
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Yam is considered the most important food staple in West Africa where 70% of the total yams produced worldwide comes from. Every year, festivals and rituals are carried out in different parts of the region to mark the arrival of the new yam. Apart from these festivals and rituals, there is huge profit in yam farming business.

This is a golden opportunity for any serious farmer who would like to take advantage of this season to cultivate yam in large quantity. Apart from selling locally, yam can be exported to the United States of America, United Kingdom, Netherlands, France, Germany, and even Japan. While Nigeria is the major producer of yam in the world followed by Ivory Coast, Ghana is in the other hand the major exporter of yams, accounting for over 90% of total yams exported from West Africa annually.

Why have Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Cameroon not been  fully involved in the exportation of yams, leaving the opportunity only in the hands of Ghana? I think ignorance may have played a role in this. Yam farming is important, exporting it is also important.

Locate Suitable Farmland For Yam Farming

Yams prefer growing in an upland and they should be planted in a well-drained field. Optimum yields are obtained from sandy loam and silt loam soil although acceptable yields are also obtained from clay loam soils, particularly those high in organic matter. While some yams does relatively well on stony soil, it is however not advisable to plant yam on stony hard soil.

Forest lands in most tropical region offers ideal environment for growing yam both in soil quality and climate conditions.

Preparation Of The Land

Properly clear the bush and burn the grasses with fire at the appropriate time. Yam is best planted within the months of February and April when the rainy season is just beginning. These are the best periods for land preparation.

Planting Procedures

The usual planting time for white yam is March to April, depending on the time the tuber dormancy is broken, as indicated by the sprouting of tubers under storage and upon start of rain in a particular area. This means that you have to start the pre-sprouting process well ahead of the planting time, at least for 3 weeks

Like I said before, the distance between the planted yam should be 1m x 1m and at a depth of about 10cm. When planting coincides with a dry spell, setts are planted in any orientation about 15 cm deep if the field will not be mulched. About 20,000 to 27,778 setts are needed for one hectare of farmland.

Pre-sprouted setts. Setts are usually planted at the start of rain if the field cannot be irrigated or will not be mulched. The same planting distance and depth for non-pre-sprouted setts are used. When planting, setts should be oriented so that sprouts are up. To achieve this, the cut surface has to face the ground.

In staggered planting, the field is divided into four up to six sections – a section for a batch of setts ready for planting. The size of each section and the time each section is prepared is guided by the rate of sprouting of setts.

Mulching The Ridges

In order to reduce soil temperature, conserve soil moisture and suppress weed growth, it is preferable to mulch the field where the yams are planted. Dry coconut fronds, corn stalks, rice straw and other similar materials may be used as mulch. If rice straw or similar material that rot readily is used, the mulch is made thick (about 10 cm) so that it will not rot completely within four or five months.

For yam farming and to further to protect the soil from excessive loose of moisture, mulching tends to add some nutrient to the soil from the decaying materials used.

Weed Control

The number of times a yam farm needs to be weeded depends on the use of pre-sprouted setts, the application of mulch and the rate of weed growth. If non-pre-sprouted setts are used and the field is not mulched, two to three weeding operations are needed before the yam canopy covers the space between rows to partially suppress weed growth. If pre-sprouted setts are used and the field is mulched, at most only two weedings performed about two months apart are needed.

Handtools are the only method I recommend.  Use of other methods such as animal powered plows are dangerous to the plans as the  vines may get damaged in the process. Use of herbicides may be acceptable in some areas.

Replanting  (Replacing Dead Yams)

Some amount of sett mortality can be expected, particularly in while Guinea yam when non-presprouted setts are used for planting. Thus replanting is done, usually about two months after the original planting.

Hills with no sprouts are checked to see if there are rotten setts which should be removed and replaced with new ones. Unsprouted setts that did not rot should not be replaced because they still can produce sprouts later on.

Staking The Yam Vines

Plants are staked before vines start crawling on the ground. The recommended stake length is five to ten meters and a stake to every plant. Bamboo poles are the most desirable staking material, similar material that can support the yam vines for at least seven months can be used as stakes. 

 

By Darlington Omeh Agriculture

13th February 2019