• Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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How to achieve optimal results in yam production through ‘recycled seeds’

yam (2)

Last week, one of our readers in an emailed feedback, raised an enquiry that other people may benefit from. Following the article, “Inability of farmers to differentiate seeds from grains keeps farm productivity low”, the writer sought to know if efficacy concerns in farmer saved seeds could be a contributing factor to low yields in yam cultivation.

Agribusiness Insight reached out to a few experts, in order to provide a more informed response to this enquiry. The findings can be summarised thus; Saved seeds can be used for Yam cultivation and it will give good results, provided a farmer looks for the right varieties, and also does not use for more than three farm cycles. There are a few other conditions, of course.

As noted by Wanger Barnabas Akaazua, operations manager, Afri Agri, “There are some varieties (of yam) that no matter what you do, they don’t give you good results.”

Ekum Ojogu, an agricultural development and food security expert at the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), also explained, “The protocol for yam assumes you can go for three cycles before you change.” When a farmer uses the same yam seedlings repeatedly, with time, the quality in output will decline substantially. He emphasised that continuous recycling could be a reason for the low yields being recorded by a yam farmer.

When this reporter spoke with Ojogu, he revealed that a workshop was just being concluded (that same day), as part of efforts to develop a quality management protocol for Yam. “Before now, there was no quality protocol for yam (at all), and existing varieties were just being recycled by farmers,” he said.

According to him, the variety of yam being planted could also be responsible for the challenge of low yield.  “From what we have discovered, most of the varieties in existence have a lot of viral diseases,” Ojogu said. These viral diseases, as he explained, might be in the yam without manifesting physically. As a farmer keeps replanting, he/she will invariably be multiplying those viruses year in, year out, so it affects the yield.

Apart from the quality of yam seed being used for planting, experts also told Agribusiness Insight, that the farm yields could also be attributed to the farmer’s agronomic practices, and how he/she applies fertilisers, for instance (if at all it is done).

One major advice that was given is for the farmer to conduct a soil analysis test. The farmer is advised to check the status of the soil, so as to know what major element is lacking, and from this, know the appropriate fertiliser to apply.

Akaazua in fact, stated the farmer needs a soil test to determine acidity, because if the soil is acidic, it will affect the result of whatever is grown in it. In the same vein, if the soil is also deficient in nutrients, the soil test will reveal this.

In conclusion, at present, it is ok to use saved seedlings for yam cultivation, but not for more than three farm cycles. Doing this should also be in strict adherence to good agronomic practises, and ensuring the soil is at its best in terms of nutrient composition and acidity/alkalinity levels.