Clean Yam Planting Material
Links to RNRRS
DFID has been funding research into the production and distribution of clean yam planting material since at least 1993.
For years, minisett technology and information about yam diseases has been promoted but there had been little farmer adoption of the knowledge. In Kogi State
,Nigeria many farmers said that they knew about the yam diseases and the problems that it caused but 'there wasn't anything that they could do about it.'
Under the RNRRS big strides were made in terms of addressing the problem of clean yam planting material.
In 2002 a study by Asiabaka, Kenyon and Morse, commissioned under the RNRRS, recommended that, for farmers to benefit from the previous research on yam diseases, there was a need to focus on the production of clean seed yam.
This led to a project funded in 2003 in which researchers linked with development groups to greater understand the socio-economics of seed yam production and to promote best practice to clean yam production. What emerged was that a limited number of farmers have gone into seed yam production but faced constraints including shortage of finance, land and market cartels.
During this period scientists worked with farmers and it was realised that germination rates were much better if the yam pieces planted were made larger (80-100g - with around 10-15 minisetts per tuber). Through a collaboration with the agrochemical company Dizengoff a fungicide and insecticide was made available and farmers.
Financial issues were addressed through a deal brokered with Diocesan Development Services (DDS), an NGO, which developed a specialised yam loan scheme from their pre-existing micro-credit scheme. This addressed the issue that informal interest rates offered to yam farmers were found to be prohibitively expensive.
The project was a great success and activities were replicated beyond the original target states of Kogi and Ekiti to Oyo, Abuja, Cross Rivers State and Kwara.
From a study done in 2010 as part of the RIU work programme, some five years after this investment was made, all the farmers trained under the RNRRS programme were still in agriculture and are producing seed yam. The approach has also been adopted by some of the neighbouring farmers. However, to date, the farmers have been limited in the numbers of seed yam and they are generally producing at a subsistence level. At the same time yam farmers in general find it increasingly hard to access good quality planting material.
During the RIU-supported phase technical support to the emerging yam entrepreneurs is being provided by a scientist at IITA who was involved the previous RNRRS phase of the work thus establishing a link to the 'implicit knowledge' from the RNRRS stage. The thinking is that this is important because it provides better value for money by avoiding repeating mistakes or misunderstanding the original research phase.