The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IIITA) has already harvested the first fruit from its rapid multiplication of yam seedlings initiative under the Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA).
The leader of the Project, Norbert Maroya, disclosed on Friday at the Yam Field Day to celebrate the achievement of the IITA-YIIFSWA-II project which would be winding down at the end of the year after 10 years of active research work.
The project was funded with the $13.5 million received from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation between 2011 and 2016.
Maroya said following the significant progress made in the first phase of the programme, the Foundation released another $12 million for the project to run from January 2017 to December 2021.
He said the IITA, through the project, developed and validated tools and technologies to produce yam for the establishment of market-oriented seed systems that ensured the sustainable supply of quality yam seed in Ghana and Nigeria.
“We started the first phase in 2011 to 2016 with $13.5 million, and in second phase based on achievement, the donor (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) added $12million from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2021 that is what we are finishing now,” Maroya said.
“What we developed in the first phase was to use the stems, vines and leaves to develop planting materials, instead of cutting and planting yams like they are doing for sweet potatoes.
“Each plant can produce up to 300 single node vines like maize. When you take the maize, one grain can get you up to 300 grains. With that, you don’t have any problem in multiplying the yam seedlings instead,” he said.
He said the project has also trained seed inspectors, established laboratories for them to produce breeder seeds, established solar power and a screen house for the seed companies.
“Because there are a lot of actors in seed production, you have the research, you have the foundation seed producers, you have the certified seed producers.
“We are trying to develop technology for each of them with the help of the research institution and national agriculture seed council.
“We go around and make sure that the material that they are producing is quality materials, disease free.”
The Vice Chairman of Da-Allgreen Veggies and Herbs, a seed company, Stephen Atar, said they were working towards ensuring the yam seedlings they produce would be available and affordable for farmers across the country.
“To start with, when you talk of making it affordable, that is part of our target, to try to see that the cost of whatever we produce is around what the farmers used to buy in the market.
“If there is any variation, in spite of the technology, we will try to manage in such a way that the cost are affordable may be plus or minus 10% variation.
“Now, making it available is an issue of up-scaling. The fact that we’re starting yam now, we have been to do so in other seeds, cereals and others. We have done the same thing. That is what we want to do with yam. But it is just that the yam technology is a little bit slower than rice and other ones that we do.
“But the major crux of the matter is that we have already acquired the knowledge and technological know-how and our staff have been trained by IITA and the other collaborators, what we’re asking the government is finance which is main problem of seed,” he said.
He there was the need for government policy to encourage the adoption, “because if we produce and it’s not being bought, it’s a problem. So, the government also has to be involved to encourage the farmers to make them test the technology.” (NAN)