ocoyam is one of the tuber crops in the family of yam and the less popular amongst them all for now and it is one of the most nutritious and the most useful among them all because it serve many purpose.
It is classified as the most unpopular in the family of yam or root tuber crops because many people don’t eat it or don’t even have it’s time.
According to survey in Nigeria,many people don’t have time for this nutritious food because they classify it as the food for the poor!. So funny!. That is why I researched and write this article to enlighten people about cocoyam and how to farm it.
Cocoyam is a oval in shape and sometimes round.
This crop is found in every household and in every farm in igboland, people in that part of the country seems to understand the potential benefits of cocoyam crop, hence they farm it.
HOW TO FARM COCOYAM
Cocoyam just like other root crop or tuber is farmed almost the same way, cocoyam is not different. Before you think of planting this crop, you must have a farm land to plant them or plant them in a farm where you have planted cassava, maize, yam etc, one thing that is so good about this crop is it is very good in mixed farming, this means that it can be planted along side any crop you can think of and they will do just fine.
If you want to plant it as a mixed farming way, it is good, but you won’t be able to do it in a larger quantity because the other crop or crops you mixed the cocoyam with will take much of the space, so for commercial purpose, get a land, clear it and make sure no rubber nor nylon is in the ground as this might affect it’s growth, so rake the farm land very well, also make use of land that is loamy soil and with enough soil nutrients also.
After clearing the farm land, dig or plough the land of holes of about 6 to 8 inches, take your cocoyam and plant them one after the other, make sure you place the place that it will sprout from upward and don’t cover there with sand and also if you are luck to have the ones that have already sprouted, place that side up and don’t cover it entirely also.
Apply the necessary manure if possible around the crops you planted and allow them to grow.
Cocoyam has one major problem, which is probably one of the reasons farmers don’t engage in it so much, It is very prone to diseases! this type of disease makes the tuber to rot in the ground when it is matured and ready to harvest, which is very sad!. Although it is not very common disease, but farmers have to watch out for it.
You only need to remove weed from cocoyam farm twice in it’s life time which is very simple to do.
Water them always if possible, when you plant them in dry season because cocoyam is a very good drinker, that is why it is very advisable to plant them in the raining season, as you don’t need to do any watering, just allow rain fall to do the work for you.
It takes about 3 to 5 months before they could be matured enough and ready for harvest.
TYPES OF COCOYAM
There are many varieties of cocoyam and almost every nation has their own categories or varieties of them, like in igboland, we have Ede onicha, Ede uhie, anambe, okoriko etc, But generally, there are only 2 types of cocoyam, mainly the type that is brownish in colour inside and the tyoe that is whitish in colour.
Although the 2 types can hardly be differentiated unless you open them and the both of them do serve almost the same purpose in my place.
HARVESTING COCOYAM CROPS
An average cocoyam stays for a period of 3 to 5 months before it could mature and ready for harvest, by this time, the leaves must have grown a little gray in colour.
At this juncture,the next action is to harvest them.
Only Cutlass or Hoe or Shovel is needed to harvest it, as a root or tuber crop it is.
Take any of these tools to your cocoyam farm, dig the ground around it gently and carefully so that you won’t cut them to pieces, this is to soften the ground for pulling, and gently pull them out from the ground by holding and pulling the leaves and stem.
One good thing about cocoyam is, it doesn’t require sophisticated storage system as it is not a perishable crop.
When harvested, this crop can last for quite a long time without perishing or spoiling. It is advisable to store in a normal temperature.
USES/IMPORTANCE OF COCOYAM
COCOYAM has many uses or importance, in this article, I am going to classify them in to 2 categories.
Cocoyam is a better food compared to yam or cassava!, are you surprised? now here are the various ways you could eat cocoyam – It could be pounded on a mortar just like yam and serve as fufu or garri.
To some people, cocoyam fufu is better than both fufu, garri or semovita. Many people of Igbo nationality normally eat it this way.
It is used for making many kinds of soup.
cocoyam is mainly popular for this method, majority of the consumers use it to cook or prepare many kinds of soup, as it is very delicious.
Soups like ofe ede, ofe oha, ofe nturukpa, and many more are made from this crop by boiling and pounding it on a mortar and later used to cook the soups.
Just like yam, it can be roasted and eaten exactly like yam. This method is very simple and time saving, but very delicious especially if you make a very good sauce for it.
The leaf of this plant serves as a very good vegetable, hence it is used to prepare soups, yam, even including the cocoyam itself.
This magnificent crop is also prepared as porridge, and it looks just exactly like yam and it is very tasty when done very well.
The leaf is also used to store or keep many foods like oil seed, Raw cassava,/raw fufu, fufu, etc
Cocoyam is a very nice medicine as it can cure some sickness and protects the body too because of it’s rich in many nutrients like Calcium, Protein, Carbohydrate, Sodium,Fiber, and many vitamins.
Even the leaf has lots of vitamins, just like fluted pumpkin (Ugu) does.
In many places, doctors do recommend Cocoyam foods to a diabetic patient as it has no sugar and also it reduces the blood sugar level in the body.
Some people do believe that it has the tendency to prolong the life span of anybody that do eat cocoyam on a regular basis, although this has not been scientifically proven yet!.
I hope this article have enlightened you on the hidden or unknown information/values of cocoyam.
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