Complete guide on how to grow yam in Nigeria



According to statistics Nigeria has been recorded as one of the world’s largest producer of yams, this record shows that Nigeria contribute over 70 to 76 percent of the world production. Statistics has also shown that in 1985 Nigeria actually produced 18.3 million tones of yam from 1.5 million hectares of land, which now represent about 73.8 percent of the total yam production in Africa, this report was actually from the Food and Agricultural Organization.

Furthermore, there are certain factors that are really needed to be considered before starting yam farming in any part of Nigeria. The major factors are the land, the soil, the season for planting and cultivating the yam and the capital for starting.
The following are the steps you can take to start yam farming in Nigeria;

        1. Land preparation: If you actually have about 1 hectare of land or more, you need to start by preparing the soil for planting. Before the rainy season it is necessary to clear the bushes and grasses. Also the weeds in the land need to be allowed to dry up with the soil to form organic manure. Actually in Nigeria, February and April are the best months to plant yams, because this is when the rainy season is just beginning. Start by preparing the ridge beds and also measure it 1 meter high and 1 meter gap from each heap or ridge. If the land is sloped land you can follow the contour to construct the ridges in order to minimize soil erosion. In yam farming an upland with well-drained field is actually the land suitable for planting yam. And also one of the best soils for planting yam is sandy loam and silt loam soil. If you intend to use clay soil, make sure the soil is rich in organic matter.

        2. The preparation of the setts: You need to properly prepare the setts by cutting the whole tubers in pieces and use them for planting. You can plant the whole small tubers but big tubers need to be cut in pieces to a size of about 60g to 100g. In yam cultivation the bigger the sett used the higher is the expected seed, although the sett should not be too large to avoid wasting resources. Make sure you take your setts from healthy tubers of healthy plants.

        3. The pre-sprouting of setts: It is strongly advice to pre-sprout the setts before they are planted. Actually this particular method assures the emergence of setts when they are planted and it also reduces expenses on weeding before the setts emerges. Actually one of the procedures for pre-sprouting a sett requires digging a nice ditch in a clear shaded area under trees, it can be either under bananas, or under a shed that is constructed for the purpose. You can place the setts side by side in the ditch and then cover it with either dry grasses or dry banana leaves. In a condition where there is no ditch dug you can also place the setts side by side on the ground.

        4. The planting of the yams: Actually the best time to plant white yam is in the rainy season within the months of March and April, although it depends on the time the tuber dormancy is broken as indicated by the sprouting of the tubers under storage and upon the beginning of the rain in the particular area. That is the major reason why the pre-sprouting process is best started ahead of the planting time at least for three weeks.
Make sure that the distance between the planted yams is 1 meter by 1 meter at a depth of about 10 centimeters. Actually when planting coincides with a dry spell, the setts should be planted in any orientation about 15 centimeters deep if the field will not be mulched. A study has shown that for 1 hectare of farmland, nothing less than twenty thousand to twenty-seven thousand setts are needed. By peradventure if the field will not be irrigated and mulched, the setts can be planted at the beginning of the rain. The same planting distance and depth for non-pre-sprouted setts can be use. Make sure the setts are oriented so that sprouts are up during planting. Also the cut surface needs to face the ground in order to achieve this.

        5. Weed control: In yam farming the application of mulch and the rate of weed growth is what really determines the number of times the yam farm needs to be weeded. The yam farm can be weeded two to three times if non pre-sprouted setts are used and the field is not mulched. Don’t forget that the weeding operations are really needed before the yam canopy covers the space between the rows to partially hold back the growth of the weed.

       6. Harvesting of the yam: Harvesting of the yam is the final stage. They can be harvested when the stalk and the leaves display yellowish signs of drying up. The yam harvesting time can actually start from November all through to February the following year.

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