By Oluwafunke Ishola
The Yam Farmers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria, says it is working on a fertiliser research that will improve the shelf life of yam and boost food production.
Prof. Simon Irtwange, the President of the association and Chairman, Technical Committee on Yam Export, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos.
Irtwange said that the association was collaborating with the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) in Umudike, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan and other private seed companies to develop fertiliser that would be appropriate for yam.
“We are having challenge with the current Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (NPK) fertilizer because we feel that there is already too much nitrogen in the soil and it is one of the reasons that make the shelf life of our yam to be short.
“Usually in some places, when you harvest yam in December or January, the yam could be stored till August or September when it starts to break its dormancy.
“But now, if you have about 100 tubers of yam stored, you would be surprised that when you check it, most of them have become soft as if they are cooked and when you touch them, your fingers will penetrate into the yam.
“This issue constitutes a major economic loss not just to farmers, but also the consumers who do not get the monetary value for the produce, hence increasing the exposure to hunger and poverty,” he said.
According to him, there is hope that the fertiliser research breakthrough will give farmers good yield and prolong the shelf life of yam.
Irtwange said that the association was committed to ensure innovation in yam production toward boosting food sufficiency, wealth creation and growth of the non-oil export sector. (NAN)