Starting Yam Farming In Nigeria (detailed guide)


Welcome once again to Finst Blogging and Business tips, today i will be giving a detailed guide on Yam farming in Nigeria.

The yam is the common name for  plant species in the genus Dioscorea that from edible tubers. Yam is a staple food that is highly in demand today both locally and internationally, especially in Africa, South America and Caribbean, Asia, and Oceania. Yam can be used for porridge, boiled to eat, roasted, fried, even flour production and many more uses. The flour can be used in baking snacks such as chin chin, meat pie, peanut burger and for many other processes. Nigeria is the highest producer of yam in the world today while Ghana is the highest exporter of yam in the world today.

Due to our rising population and the fact that yam is an exportable commodity there is a need for entrepreneurs to venture more into commercial yam farming. Yam is a tropical and sub-tropical crop that requires a pH of 5.5, the states that produces this product in large commercial quantities in Nigeria are: Anambra, Niger, Cross River, and Benue and many more.

Yam planting time depends on the location and the variety you are using. Before you start this commercial yam farming make sure to find out from experienced yam farmers around you and ask question concerning:

  • The variety that is preferred in that area.
  • Pest/diseases to look out for that affects such crops.
  • The management procedures.
  • Their planting season.

Yam cultivation usually happens around late April and early May while some farmers plant theirs around December to February. So it solely depends on your time of planting that determines you harvesting period.

Different variety of Yam

There are so many variety of yam with different colors and sizes, there are white variety, yellow variety and the hybrid variety. Some of the improved varieties are:

  • TDA 297
  • TDA 291

They good because they are resistant to scorch (a fungal disease).


Things To Consider Before Starting Yam Farming

Land preparation

First and foremost, get a land and clear it and burn debris, prepare the soil according to your own style of planting, mostly people mount heaps while others dig soil of 4-5 inches in depth to the ground and 3-4m wide spacing is 1m between mounts. In Akwa Ibom state soils are dug for yam planting while FCT heaps  are made. The soil should be well drained sandy loamy soil rich in organic matter (note this).

Sett preparation

The yam to plant is in whole size, so cut the whole size yam into smaller pieces because it will be a waste to plant them whole like that, there are four (4) types of sett which are: The head sett, Middle sett, Tail sett, and Whole set. Make sure to cut the yam horizontally from head to tail into desired sizes it can be 4.6 cm in thickness.

After cutting the yam to desired sizes, then rub ashes or red oil palm on the face of the fresh cut yam to prevent microbes present in the soil from attacking the already cut tubers until they germinate, Ashes turn the environment where the setts are planted alkaline which repels microbes. Prepare setts only when planting time is near, maybe like a month to planting date keep the setts in a cold place under tress such a plant trees, covers.

The tubers you are using for planting should be disease free cultivate that were harvested 3 months before the next planting. It is advisable to cut your whole tubers into setts for great produce.

Planting

The yam are propagated from the tubers of the parent plants either whole or sett, they grow from sprouting in slips. Put a set into the prepared hole and cover it with soil or plant them in the mount in a depth of 14-18cm. Make sure the head is facing up or lay the sett down horizontally when planting. Plant upside down will make the yam not to grow, the horizontal planting is advisable and recommended.

Irrigation

The yam is cultivated during raining season, if rain stops then you will have to irrigate the farm three times a week and be very careful not to over irrigate which will lead to plant rot which you do not want for your plant.

The yam stands needs adequate water to do well, so use drip irrigation for a large commercial yam farm ( a big yam farm).

Mulching

This is carried out to retain water and to avoid too much lost of water especially during dry season, mulching heaps with grasses or with leaves. Hot sun destroys yam seedlings by scorching them until they die, this is why mulching is very necessary and important.

Manuring 

Do apply manure every month or at every growing time in order to increase your product yield. Always use manure that is low in nitrogen due to it effect on the root development, do avoid chicken dung cause it contains high level of nitrogen, instead just use a nutrient that are high in phosphorus, it is recommended.

Pest/diseases to control

Most pest and diseases that attack yam farm are:

  • 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 yam, if you see this disease after the harvest, soak the yam in hot water for about an hour in order to reduce the effect on the yam.
  • Yam mosaic: This is a light skin discoloration  or yellowing of leaves caused by mealy bugs, aphids which attract insects and reduces yam growth.
  • White scale insects: These insects slow down the growth of the yam by producing tiny white scales on yam skin.
  • Some other insects that affects yams are: Beetle, Crickets etc, while the pest that affects yams are Nematodes (root knot), Meloidogyne app, Scutellonema brady's.

Avoid water log areas, use the right pesticide such as fungi thiabendazole, early weeding is recommended.

Staking of the Yam

This stage is very important because it will expose the vine of the yam to sunlight for optimum yield, your yield will be larger, if you allow the vines to crawl through the ground your harvest will be low, you won't get expected produce.

Do stake your sprouting yam one month after the vines comes out. Use bamboo wood or ordinary wood cut from parental tree that can not be attacked by termites or insects of any kind, then stake two sticks of 2m each.

Weeding

The weeding process can be done manually three (3) times before harvest time and if you have a very big farm then you have to employ more manpower for the weeding of the farm.

Harvesting

The yam matures between 5-7 months but the yam will be ready for harvesting when the leaves turns yellowish to brownish and the leaves start dying, do not wait for the vines to die completely before you harvest. The yam harvesting will be difficult if the soil is too hard, this is why you should loosed soil for the planting of the yam.

When harvesting use spade to dig round the portion of the soil a little distance away from where the yam is standing so you won't injure the yam or break it, you can can dig out the yam tuber with sand then remove the sand carefully to get to the point where the yam ends, then bring out the yam from the soil. With good farm management a hectare can yield as much between 10-15 tonnes of yam tubers.

Preservation of the Yam

To preserve the yam for the next season for planting, keep the yam in barns away from sun or heat, rub the yam with ashes on any wounded part, you can yank off the head and rub ashes on it.

Marketing process

The market of yam is not difficult because it has a ready market. You can store them until harvest time has long past then you can sell them for more money, you can also process the yam to flour or export them whole to international markets for greater profits.

In conclusion, yam is a very lucrative business to invest in, if you can make a 100 by 100 of yam farm alone which produces up to 10,000 tubers of yam and a tuber of yam in the market today ranges from 250-300, multiply that by 10,000 tubers, you will your gains multiply into hundreds of thousands. Yam farm is very lucrative.

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