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IITA begins on-farm trials on new new yam

THE International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in partnership with Nigerian farmers has begun preliminary trials of propagating yam through vine cuttings on farmers’ fields in Niger State.

The success of the trials and adoption of the new yam growing technique will cut down the volume of yams used by farmers as seed yams. “The technology will definitely save farmers the cost and pains of acquiring seed yams,” said Joshua Aliyu, a staff with Niger State Agricultural Development Project, who is also working on the trials. “It is actually a rebirth of yam cultivation in our community,” he added.

The new yam growing technique has potential to eliminate the transmission of yam diseases (nematodes), which constitute considerable damage to yam tubers, according Dr. Hidehiko Kikuno, IITA’s Yam Physiologist and project leader.

On February 15, IITA and partners announced a breakthrough in the propagation of yams through vine cuttings via a research funded by the Japanese government (MOFA, MAFF), the Sasakawa Africa Association, Tokyo University of Agriculture and the International Cooperation Centre for Agricultural Education, Nagoya University, Japan. Other partners in the research include the Tokyo University of Agriculture; National Root Crops Research Institute,  Umudike, Nigeria; Crop Research Institute, Kumashi, Ghana and the Institute of Agricultural Research for Development, Cameroun.

The new yam growing technique makes use of vine cuttings planted in carbonised rice husk (CRH). After rooting and sprouting, the seedlings are transferred to the field or directly planted into nursery bed with CRH under shade.
Kikuno said the abundance and availability of rice husks — the growth medium — in rural communities makes the research relevant.

“This is because farmers can propagate the yam through vine cuttings by themselves,” he said.
In sub-Saharan Africa where the cost of planting materials (seed yams) account for about 50 per cent of the total cost, the new technology is seen as an option that will not only cut down the cost of production of yams but also make available more yam tubers for human consumption.


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