Yam production method:full detailed information of yam
Yam is a starchy tuber crop that serves as food and is being produced/cultivated in many continents such as Africa, Asia, America, and the Caribbeans.
Africa is the largest producer of yam and in Africa, the west African region is the highest producer of yam in the whole world, the west African region contributes about 70% of the production with countries like Nigeria and Ghana being the top producers.
Yam is a very profitable goods and a cash crop as it’s demand is always high, and it is a great export goods, especially in West Africa.
Due to the high demand of this product, nany top producing countries find it hard to export the product as they need to meet the local demand first before exporting.
In this article, I am going to take you on a tutor about yam farming and some important knowledge you need to know about the food crop. We need to do it step by step for easy understanding.
PREPARATION OF LAND
Before starting yam farming, wether for domestic purpose or for commercial purpose, you must have land to do it, if it is for domestic or personal use, you don’t require a large farm land for this, as 1 to 5 plots of land is good to start as a domestic yam farmer,you won’t even require much labour or no labour at all as you can do is all by yourself.
But if it is for commercial purpose, then you might be need land in acres to farm the yams.
let’s assume you have a good farm land at your disposal, the next thing is to prepare it for farming.
Although there are few things to consider when choosing the land for yam farming, they are: The farm land must be rich in soil nutrients, and it must not be waterlogged or full of erosion.
Although this crop does well in loamy soil, but it also do in clay soil that is rich in soil content.
Back to the topic, the preparation of farm lands in West Africa like Nigeria and Ghana starts around January, February. This time, the rain have not yet started, farmers do clear their farm land during this time with Cutlass, and shovel ( for small farmers), Big farmers with enough land do make use of machines like tractor.
After clearing the farm and cutting the trees and grass in it, they are left there so that the sun could dry them as quickly as possible before the first rain.
When they dry, the the rain will now mix them with the soil when it starts, thereby turning them into organic manure and enriching the soil more.
After 2 to 3 weeks of the first rain, it is time to clear the farm by packing all the dirt’s in it like sticks, and other things except the green leaves that will eventually turn to manure. Do this with rake, shovel etc.
When you are done with clearing, now make ridges of up to 1 or 2 feet high. This ridge method of yam farming is mostly appreciated when the farm is normally waterlogged during heavy rainfall, it helps to control the erosion and save the soil nutrients from being washed away by heavy rain.
In the ridge method, a gap of 2 feet is given between the ridges so as to make enough space for both the yam and for easy weeding.
The other method of yam farming is to make holes of 10 inches deep and half a feet gap from one hole to another. This method is used when you are quite sure the land is not disturbed by erosion.
When you are through with either making your beds of digging you hole on the ground, depending on the method you prefer, the next step is to get your yam seed.
There are many types of yam, they are white yam, yellow yam etc, but the white yam is the most popular, so make your choice and get the yam seeds.
Literally, yam does not bear any seed like other crops, it is a tuber crop,just like cassava, Cocoyam etc. But the edible root we call yam is what we sometimes refer as yam seed.
The yam seed we eat is what is also being planted as yam seed.
To plant them, you need to cut the yam a little bit down from the head and take the rest for food. The small head you left is what will sprout and grow back into a full yam, so get them as many as possible for your yam plantation/farming.
After you are done with the preparation of land and getting your yam seed, the next thing to do is to plant them.
To plant them , you need to place them into the hole you dug, facing the head up and covering with sand, leaving a small bit of the head out on the surface so that it/they will germinate from there.
The most recommended method is to leave the yam seeds in a cool and a little bit wet land for sometime so that they will germinate there, then you transplant them to the farm land.
With this method above,all of them will germinate and non will rot or eaten by insects. This method will allow the yam to continue growing once you transplant them and you will save many prospective damages of seeds with this method.
Once you have planted them, and they germinate and start growing, you need to go and cut some tree branches or dried bamboo trees and mount them face to face with the yam on an interval of 8 inches and make them to start climbing the tree branches or the bamboos you mounted.
The trees or the bamboos should be very long and dry, so that they don’t sprout and grow in your farm land as bamboo itself is a problem when they sprout.
From time to time, you need to spray manure, wether animal manure, compost or fertilizer,or disposable wastes from the kitchen spray them around each yam.
Yam farm, just like any other plant out there, yam is not exempted from weed, although weed do not harm this crop so much by growing with it or sucking soil nutrients with it, but they do inhabit some diseases and pests that pose a great threat to yam, this is why it is very important to weed the farm any time the weed sprout out.
learn how to farm bitteryam/una
To do the weeding work, you either do it manually or with some medications.
To do it manually, you need a small weeding hoe to remove the weed.
To do it with medicine, there are many weed killer medicine out there, just select the right one and spray, they will automatically die within some days .
Yam is an annual crop, so you need to weed about 4 to 5 times before harvest.
Pest is also a threat to to this plant, as some pests do attack the tuber and some attack the leaves.
Pests like Ants do feast on the seed, especially when they are planted newly, that’s why I recommend putting the seeds in a favourable place and allow them to germinate there. With this, you have reduced the rate of seed spoilage in the ground, if not, ants would likely attack them.
Pests like caterpillar and beetle are threat to this crop also, caterpillar do feast on the leaves and beetle do feast on both the yam seed and sometimes the leaves.
Pests like these should be killed with insecticide.
To harvest yam crops or yam farm, you need certain equipments like shovel to dig them out or a machine like the harvester.
Yam is an annual crop, so they take about an average of 6 to 8 months to mature although this depends heavily on the type of yam, the type of soil and how you take care of them.
By then the leaves will start turning a bit yellow, this is how you know they are matured. When this happen, go and harvest them with either manual tools or harvester.
Harvester is the best for large farm, but is it’s a small farm, shovel will do, to do this, first of all dig around the yam deeply and bring it out.
Note – yam seeds do grow downward, deep into the earth, you need to be careful and dig deep, or you might cut them with your tool.
When you bring them out, cut the leaf or cut the head, leaving them on the leaf and put them back into the earth, they will grow back. If you have a good irrigation, they will still grow back and do very well even in dry season.
After harvesting, the next most important thing is storage because there is no need to harvest farm crops without storage because you can not sell or eat all of them at once, so storage is very important.
There are many ways to store yam, but in this article, I am going to explain only one method, which is the most important and the long lasting method.
The Barn method: Generally, yam are known to be stored in a Barn, this is because Barn is the most secured and long lasting. Barn is a place where yam are stored for a long time in a larger quantity.
In traditional barn, a large place is provided and constructed with sticks or bamboos in a way that yams are hang on them.
Also a Barn might be a warehouse that is conducive for yam that they won’t spoil easily.
Yam can last up to a year in barns and they are protected from pests.
IMPORTANCE OF YAM FARMING
Yam farming is very important because it can make the farmer rich, this simply means that yam is a great commodity on high demand because it serves as many purpose which are below.
Food: food is the most important use of yam. it serves as a great food for both human beings and animals.
In many places, it serves as many delicacies like pounded yam, yam chips, yam pudding,roasted yam,boiled yam, etc.
Animals like goat, sheep, pigs,cows, and even some insects feed on yam.
The peel off yam is also used as a source of organic manure when they decay.
Medicine: another great importance of yam is it serves for many medical purpose with it’s various nutritional values to the body.
Vitamins, starch, etc are found in yam with which it helps the body.
Other uses of yam are for ceremonies and festivals in many cultures.
In Igboland/Biafra, yam is used to entertain many festivals like New yam festival, New year festival etc.
Another great importance is, it is a great export. This can make both the farmers and the country rich. e.g in Nigeria before oil was discovered, yam and cocoa was the main live hood of Nigeria then, so this makes yam a very good source of income and employment.
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