Yam is a staple food that is high in demand both locally and internationally. Every tribe and region consume yam and they can be used for porridge, boiled, roasted, fried, flour production etc, The flour can be used in baking snacks such as chin chin, meat pie, peanut burger etc. Nigeria is the highest producer of yam in the world while Ghana is the highest exporter of yam in the world. Because of our rising population and the fact that yam is an exportable commodity there is need for entrepreneurs to invest more into commercial yam farming.
It is a tropical and sub tropical crop the requires a PH of 5.5. The States that produces yam in large commercial quantities in Nigeria are: Benue, Taraba, Niger, Anambra, Cross River etc.
Read Also: How To Start Yam Flour Production Business
Planting time depends on location and variety. Before you start your commercial yam farming find out from experienced yam farmers in your area;
- The variety that is preferred in that area
- Their planting season
- Pest and diseases that affects such variety
- And management procedures.
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Generally, yam can be cultivated between late April and early May while some farmers plant theirs around December to February.
IN THIS POST YOU WILL FIND NEW TECHNIQUES IN YAM FARMING IN AREA OF:
- Land preparation
- Sett preparation
- Planting technique
- Disease and pest control
- Yam variety; Mekka kusa yam in focus
INTRODUCING MEKKA KUSA WHITE YAM VARIETY
It is a high yield variety and this is what informs the name ‘Mekka kusa’ which is interpreted ‘Mecca is near’ in Hausa language. Farmers believe that a one time harvest of Mekka kusa yam will provide the money to travel to Mecca.
Mekka kusa or Makaputa as some people calls it is a white yam variety (Discorea rotunda). It is whitish in color with a smooth surface and a very sweet taste. Mekka kusa can yield a 5 kilo tuber when harvested that is if good agronomy practices are implemented. Their tubers are very big and is good for pounding, frying, boiling, yam flour etc.
The above qualities make Mekka kusa yam to be highly demanded. You need to see crowd of buyers especially on Bwari market days going for the yam. Importantly the yam is very cheap and highly affordable. You can buy large sizes of 100 tubers for #30,000. Mekka kusa yam variety is grown not only in Federal Capital Territory alone but also in Benue, Nassarawa and Niger States because of their high demand.
Clear the land and burn debris. Prepare the soil according to the style of planting you want. Some people mount heaps while others dig soil of 4-5 inches in depth and 3-4 m wide Spacing is 1m between mounts. In Akwa Ibom State soils are dug for yam farming while in FCT heaps are made. The soil should be a well drained sandy loam rich in organic matter.
If the yam is small in size plant it whole but cut the big size yams into smaller pieces because it will be a waste planting them whole. There are 4 types of sett; the head sett, middle sett, tail sett and whole sett. Cut the yam horizontally from head to tail into desired sizes it can be 5-8 cm in thickness.
Rub ashes or red palm oil on the fresh face of the yam to prevent microbes present in the soil from attacking the sliced tubers until they germinate. Ashes turn the environment where they setts are planted alkaline which repels microbes. Prepare setts only when planting time is near. Maybe a month to planting keep the setts in a cold place under tress such as plantain trees.
The tubers chosen for yam farming should be disease free cultivar that were harvested 3-4 months before the next planting.
Yams are propagated from the tubers of parent plants either whole or in sett. They grow from sprouting in slips. Put a sett into the prepared hole and cover with top soil or plant them in the mount in a depth of 15cm-20cm. Make the head to face up or lay the setts down horizontally when planting. If you lay it up side down the yam will not grow. The horizontal planting should be adopted especially when you do not know where the tail or head is.
SEE ALSO: How To Make A Living From Maize Farming In Nigeria
RESTOCKING OF DEAD YAM SEEDLING
After 2 weeks from planting you have to restock dead tubers that didn’t germinate. Hybrid seedlings will quarantee 90-95% germination while traditional could be between 50-60%. During harvest you have to uproot all the yam vines at the same time. This is because the time of planting will not affect their production. Sometimes the tubers that are planted later produces large tubers than the earlier cultivated ones.
MULCHING IN YAM FARMING
Mulching is carried out in yam farming to retain water and to avoid too much lost of water especially during dry season. Mulch the heaps with compost; grasses or with leaves. Hot sun destroys yam seedlings by scorching them until they die that is why mulching is necessary.
Yam is cultivated during raining season but when the rain stops coming you have to irrigate your farm three times a week. Be careful not to over irrigate the yam plantation to avoid rot.
Yam stands need adequate water to so well so use drip irrigation for a large commercial yam farming.
The commonest pest and disease that attack yams are:
- Yam mosaic: this is the yellowing of leaves or a light skin discoloration caused by aphids, mealy bugs which attract insects and reduce yam growth.
- Dry rot: this causes lesions which are seen on the skin of the yam with yellow color from the early stage that later turns to a full blown black yam. If you notice this disease after harvest soak the yam in hot water for about an hour in other to reduce the effect.
- White scale insects: they slow yam growth by producing tiny white scales on yam skin.
- Other pests that attack yams are nematodes (root knot) Meloidogyne app. Scutellonema Brady’s. Insects are Cricket, Beetle (yam shoot, yam tuber)
Plant resistant variety, avoid water log areas use the right pesticide (such as fungi thiabendazole), early weeding should be encouraged.
Apply manure every month or at every growing time in other to increase their production. Use manure that is low in Nitrogen because it can affect root development. Avoid chicken dung because it contains high level of nitrogen. Rather apply nutrients that are high in Phosphorus.
STAKING IN YAM FARMING
Yam staking is very important because it will expose the vines to sufficient sunlight for optimum yield (tubers will be big). If you allow the vines to crawl on the ground the harvest will be low (poor).
Stake your sprouting yam one month after the vines first emergence. Use mature bamboo wood or any other hard wood cut from a perennial tree that cannot be attacked by termites or any other insects. Two sticks of 2m each should be used to stake.
Weeding can be done manually 3 times before harvest. If the farm is too big you have to employ more hands to do it.
Yam matures between 5-7 months but yam is ready for harvest when the leaves turns yellowish to brownish and start dying. Don’t wait for the vines to die before harvesting. When the soil is too hard yam harvesting will be difficult. That is why you should use loosed soil in yam farming.
Use spade to dig around the portion of the soil a little distance away from where yam is standing. Be careful not to injure the tubers. To be on the safe side you can dig out the yam tuber with sand. Remove soil gently until you get to the point where the yam ends, bring out the yam from the soil.
With good farm management a hectare can yield between 10-15 tonnes.
To preserve yam for the next planting season keep yam in barns away from sun or heat. Rub ashes on any wounded part, you can yank the head of yam off and rub ashes.
There are many variety of yams with different colour and sizes. We have the white variety, yellow variety and hybrid variety. Here are some of the improved variety:
They are resistant to scorch a fungal disease
Marketing of yam is not difficult because it has a ready market. You can store them until harvest time has long past then you sale them for more money. In all adding value to a produce would yield greater profit. You can process the yam to flour or export them whole to international markets.
Yam farming is lucrative a 100 by 100 plot of land can produce up to 10,000 tubers. A tuber will cost not less than #200. When you multiply it with 10,000 tubers the gain will run into hundreds of thousand. The best cultivar to plant is hybrid yam seedling.
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