By Ikenna Uwadileke
The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) on Thursday in Abuja, reiterated its commitment towards emerging technologies critical in revolutionising yam production in the country.
Dr Phillip Ojo, Director General of the council said this at the 2020 Yam Stakeholders’ Forum under YIIFSWA-11 project organised by NASC.
The Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA-11) is funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and implemented by IITA in collaboration with NASC.
Ojo said that the adoption of new technologies would significantly enhance the availability of clean, disease free materials for ware yam production.
According to him, since the commencement of YIIFSWA project, several novel technologies and crop management techniques have been developed through research to mitigate the challenges of yam production.
“Some of these novel technologies include the High Ratio Propagation facilities such as Temporary Immersion Bioreactor System and Aeoroponics System for rapid multiplication of disease-free clean seed yams.
“This includes the development of a formal seed system for yam in order to make available sufficient quantities of quality seed yam that can be accessible and affordable to our teaming ware yam producers,’’ Ojo said.
He said that the YIIFSWA-11 had placed more emphasis on commercial seed yam production and delivery system thereby making the involvement of NASC more robust and engaging.
According to Ojo, NASC had expanded its activities in coordination and production activities of seed yam producers of all the classes of seed yams, in larger volumes and hectarages.
“This includes certification and surveillance of seed yam markets for quality standard compliance to cope with challenges of commercialisation in the formal seed yam system,’’ he said.
Dr Morufat Balogun, YIIFSWA-11 Breeder Seed Production Team Leader, described yam as having very low seed multiplication ratio by virtue of vegetative method of propagation from whole tubers or tubers cut into an average of six pieces only.
Balogun said that with the aeroponics and hydroponics technology developed by YIIFSWA, one yam plant would generate on average, 300 single-node root that transplanted in field under rainfed condition or irrigation would produce within six months high quality seed yam tubers.
“Nigeria is the world’s largest yam producer and seed yam is indispensable.
“At the planting rate of 10,000 seed yams per hectare, each sold at a conservative price of N50 each, 40,000 hectares will require seed yam worth 20 trillion naira and this is 1 per cent of the 4 million hectares planted with yam in Nigeria,’’ she said.
Balogun, who noted that technologies founded by YIIFSWA would only be legally commercialised if approved by NASC, expressed commitment to methodology of seed production and certification that would give reliable results.
She assured that YIIFSWA-11 would use 2021 to strengthen collaborations toward out – scaling the utilisation of certified improved yam varieties in Nigeria.
On his part, Prof. Simon Irtwange, President, National Association of Yam Farmers, Processors and Marketers, said the association was embarking on initiatives that would put a demand on the seed system.
“We are currently experimenting on dry season yam farming with the support of the Federal Department of Agriculture, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, which will enable farmers have two harvests a year.
“This will put a lot of pressure on the seed system,’’ Irtwange said.
He said the association advocated change in the farming system from heaps and mounds to ridges with proper staking and direction of the vines so that they would not criss-cross from one ridge to another.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event witnessed the symbolic handing over of tablets to NASC field officers for use on seed yams tracker platform and E-certification.