A seedling breakthrough, which involves the planting of yam leaves to produce millions of healthy high yield stems, has been discovered by the international research institute, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.
According to experts at the world leading research station, Nigeria would soon become one of the leading global yam producing countries with the current breakthrough recorded by the research institute, which would help farmers achieve the mass production of healthy yields.
Speaking to journalists on the project, Yam Seed System Specialist, IITA, Abuja, Dr. Beatrice Aighewi, disclosed that the project is aimed at ensuring food security in the country.
She said the breakthrough is mainly targeted at helping Nigerian farmers and those in the sub-west African tropical belt achieve significant global foreign currency accruable from yam exportation.
Aighewi also explained that IITA is set to partner with some harvest seed companies who can utilise their resources to record the mass production of the new seedling, through the new yam seedling technology that guarantees improved and healthy tubers from yam vines (stem) by helping to construct an integrated Aeroponic system needed to produce the stems.
She said: “The aeroponic system is used to produce clean yam. It’s like growing yam in the air. What we plant is yam vine popularly called ‘stem’, to produce tubers for farmers to plant.
“We want seed companies to use this technology to produce seedling for farmers in large quantity. The advantage is that instead of losing a lot of tubers during planting, farmers can approach seed companies and get a bag of seedling to plant on a vast land.
“We already have some seed companies that we are training to reproduce this new seed technology. We have installed the system in Ibadan and Abuja and we are going round the nations, targeting more yam belt. We cannot reach all farmers but we can do so through the companies we are working with. We will also demonstrate to farmers so that they can spot the difference between their traditional yam planting system and the new system.”
“In the end, millions of Nigerian yam farmers will benefit. Harvesting period will depend on climatic condition but after five months, farmers can start harvesting. This will translate to food security and improved earning on exportation. In Nigeria, we have huge advantage when it comes to exporting and becoming a major yam producing country.”
A seed company, Context Global Development, which is involved in the project, is in the country to support interested yam planters to achieve their dreams. The company’s Managing Director, Mark Nelson, told journalists at the occasion that his U.S. – based company is committed to the realisation of the project, and that it will help in building business modules for seed companies.
He added that the company is collaborating with IITA to achieve successful multiplication of the new technology.
Nelson said: “In terms of quantity and aim, we are targeting 600 million tubers in a five-year period. This is only for Nigeria and it is just for the beginning. The system will not only benefit big farmers but small farm holders as well.”
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