Research being conducted by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in seed yam multiplication holds promise to quadruple yam production in the country. This was disclosed as the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe, ended a two-day visit to Ibadan last week.
Addressing reporters after a tour of IITA facilities, including cassava fields, the aflasafe (a biocontrol product for controlling aflatoxins) production plant, the seed yam production facility, through the aeroponics system, and a soybean inoculum fertilizer facility; Ogbe said the quality of research at IITA was reassuring and could help Nigeria to address food security challenges and rev up exports.
The Minister, who met with the Director General of IITA, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga and other top officials of IITA, said government would work more closely with IITA to ensure that technologies being developed by the Institute are scaled out to farmers.
According to him, agriculture holds the future, but it cannot be achieved through the use of hoes and cutlasses.“Agriculture has a future. Agriculture has fortunes, and with an Institute like this, those who want to go into agriculture and make money should know that there is money to be made. With you (IITA) we can move forward.”
On 29 June, Nigeria launched the export of yams with 72 tons of tubers from the country to the United States and Europe, sparking concerns over the ability of the country to sustain exports, owing to the high cost of seed yams, which is exacerbated by a lack of knowledge on modern seed yam multiplication techniques.
Traditionally, farmers are compelled to reserve as much as 30 per cent of their harvest as seeds for the next planting season. However, researchers from IITA and national partners have developed the aeroponic system of seed yam multiplication, whereby the vines of the crop are used in propagating seed yams rather than tubers.
Through these method, farmers may not need to reserve their harvest for the next planting season, but can simply produce seed yams for the planting season using yam vines, according to Dr. Norbert Maroya, Coordinator for the project—Yam Improvement for Incomes and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA).