OPPORTUNITIES IN THE YAM VALUE CHAIN

I could remember my final year days in school we were asked to prepare something new and process it into something that can be edible, we bought onion powder so I and my team decided to make onion powder, I could remember my friend and I cooking the onions as seen on a YouTube platform, we cooked and cooked till all the onion turn red instead of white, we were to submit the project the following day so we knew we were up for failure so we decided to opt for potato chips and apple, we did our best and It failed, the practical failed because our lecturer did not even consider it, we had to beg for some more time. In the time given we had to think of what to produce and process, we later decided to go for the production of processed yam mixed with processed potato and grated banana. We blended and mixed this together and it gave a great blend, it was accepted and we were graded better. This made experience sharpen my love for yam production and here are some found researches by international and national organisation on yam production.

Nigeria the largest producer of yams in the world, accounting for over 70–76 percent of the world production. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, in 1985, Nigeria produced 18.3 million tonnes of yam from 1.5 million hectares, representing 73.8 percent of total yam production in Africa. According to 2008 figures, yam production in Nigeria has nearly doubled since 1985, with Nigeria producing 35.017 million metric tonnes with value equivalent of US$5.654 billion. In perspective, the world’s second and third largest producers of yams, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, only produced 6.9 and 4.8 million tonnes of yams in 2008 respectively. According to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Nigeria accounted for about 70 percent of the world production amounting to 17 million tonnes from land area 2,837,000 hectares under yam cultivation.

Yams are most commonly cooked by boiling, frying, and roasting. Preparing boiled yam involves dividing the tuber into round pieces, then peeling the skin around each cut piece, and boiling the whitish starchy flesh. Yam can be taken with different sauce, eggs, stew and lot more, it can also be modified into pounded yam, yam flour and lot more, all of this have their nutritional benefit. The older the yam, the smaller the chunks that must be cut and the more water needed for boiling. Boiled yam is usually consumed with any preferred relish. The boiled yam can also be pounded with a pestle in a mortar to create a thick starchy paste known as pounded yam that is eaten with any sauce. Another method of consumption is to sun-dry the raw yam pieces and then pound them to make flour, which is prepared with boiling water to create a thick, brown, starchy paste eaten with local soups and sauces. In big cities, fried yam is becoming a popular street food and has a similar position as French fries elsewhere. Yam balls are also gaining some popularity in Africa cuisine.

Yams are starchy staples in the form of large tubers produced by annual and perennial vines grown in Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, South Pacific and Asia. There are hundreds of wild and domesticated Dioscorea species. White Guinea yam, D. rotundata, is the most important species especially in the dominant yam production zone in West and Central Africa. It is indigenous to West Africa, as is the Yellow yam, D. cayenensis. Water yam, D. alata, the second most cultivated species, originated from Asia and is the most widely distributed species in the world.

Yam is in the class of roots and tubers that is a staple of the Nigerian and West African diet, which provides some 200 calories of energy per capital daily. In Nigeria, in many yam-producing areas, it is said that “yam is food and food is yam”. However, the production of yam in Nigeria is substantially short and cannot meet the growing demand at its present level of use. It also has an important social status in gatherings and religious functions, which is assessed by the size of yam holdings one possesses. Yam production is declining in some traditional producing areas due to declining soil fertility, increasing pest pressures and the high cost of labor. Smallholders therefore need access to innovations to reduce labor and improve productivity. Yams are grown by planting pieces of tuber, or small whole tubers (‘seed yams’) saved from the previous season. Small-scale farmers, the majority of producers, often intercrop yams with cereals and vegetables. The major pests that affect yams include insects such as leaf and tuber beetles, mealy bugs, and scales; parasitic nematodes; fungi causing anthracnose, leaf spot, leaf blight, and tuber rot; and viruses, especially the yam mosaic virus (YMV).

How can I come in and have an opportunity under yam production 

A scientist

  • A yam breeder: Yam varieties are available in fact, in their number but I just find it amazing for the world to explore more in the yam production aspect, we can have more varieties that sooth each person taste and feelings and that can be modified into different end produce at all times.
  • A soil/Crop scientist: One of the things that have reduce the efficiency of local yam producers is that they cannot manage the soil, once the soil is nutrient deficient, they can’t manage it at all and it has not helped the production and result of local farmers. It is imperative and highly important for soil scientist to be available for local and urban farmers, using the strength and coordination of an extension agent available in a particular society. Use the strength of an extension agent because Nigeria farmers are not wired to test a soil before use. A crop scientist would look into the different ways to manage the yam and make sure it is highly productive.
  • A research agent: Research could be statistical and non-statistical, the two types are very important, yam producers need extensive study and truth reveal on how to produce so as to expand the market and at the same time produce for exportation, I could recall a news now on a national Television on how some Nigeria yam exported to one of the European countries were rejected because they were all spoilt and they did not now meet some standards. It is important all the nooks and crannies are looked into to ensure the stability of farmers.

Yam leaf remains majorly and scientifically there with no usefulness, as a research agent, you can seek to base a research on the benefit and usefulness of the leaves harvested away from the plantation of yam all around the world. Who knows? It might be the next major headway in treating some terminal illness.

A farmer

  • A producer: Not everyone would become a technology expert, if we all become an engineer or fashion designer or doctors, what would people eat? It is imperative we all put into our consciousness that production of food is mandatory, yam production is necessary, it is one of the best Nigeria food with unique nutritional benefit, and it is not bad to be a producer of yam.
  • A processor: Ayoola poundo yam produced the most widely poundo yam from yam, Ola ola produced that well granulated flour from yam, it is not bad to be a processor, it is needed to coin out other end product out of yam.
  • Harvester: Yam harvesting seems strenuous and tedious, it is a great one when farmers are provided with people that can harvest for them and even sell at affordable and profitable prices.

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