Who doesn’t eat yam? If not fried or roasted, then boiled or pounded and several other forms in which one can eat yam. Even the yam peels are useful for other purposes. So, going into the yam business in Nigeria is a very profitable one since there are more than one ways in which it can be utilized.
Yam can not only be sold locally, it can also be exported out of the country. In fact, exportation of yam is an untapped area in Nigeria’s agricultural sector, leaving Ghana as the major exporter of yam in West Africa. Countries where exported yam can be sold include the US, UK, France, Germany, Japan and Netherlands.
While there are several species of yam, we will be focusing on the most popular yam species cultivated in West Africa called “White Gunea Yam”( Dioscorea rotundata). So read on to know how to get started with Yam Business in Nigeria.
Get a Suitable Farmland for the Yam
The yam business is set up on a large parcel of land, not your backyard please. The condition of the soil on the land is also crucial. Uplands with sandy loam or silt loam soil are your best choices. So those living in forest areas have the ideal soil for planting yam.
Preparing the Land
Now you’ve gotten your farm location, you need to prepare the land for the yam seeds that would be planted. If the land is overgrown, then clear it and leave the weeds to dry up on the land. The best months for planting yam are February and April, the months when the rainy season starts. These should also be the months you prepare the land.
Once the land had been cleared, you can now prepare the heap or ridge beds. Whichever one you use, it should be one meter high and one meter apart, and all beds must be built in line with the land’s contour to mitigate erosion.
Preparing your Setts
Sets are simply the yam ‘seeds’ to be planted. These are small pieces of the yam tuber, like the heat sett, the middle sett and the tail sett, including a whole tuber, it depends on the size of the sett. You should get your setts from healthy yam tubers.
The cut sets should be treated with ash or fungicide and then aire dried. Once this is done, you can either pre-sprout the setts or plant directly. Pre-sprouting is advised to reduce wedding and give you assurance that the setts would grow.
White yam is usually planted between march and April depending on when setts are sprouted or when rainy season actually begins in that area. One hectare of land can accommodate between 20,000 to 27,000 setts. Both pre-sprouted and non-pre-sprouted setts are planted at about the same time and in the same way.
Hopefully, you won’t weed the yam farm more than two or three times before harvest, depending on if you planted pre-sprouted or non-pre-sprouted setts or if the farmland was mulched or not.
You know it’s time to harvest your yams when the leaves and stalk start getting yellow or begin drying up. This usually occurs as from November and up to February the following year. Your commercial tubers will be harvested at the early stages even before yellowing and drying up. While the tubers to be made into setts will be harvested much more later.
Now you’re ready to go to the market and literally reap the fruits of your labour. Yam sells fast as there is almost no one who doesn’t have some yam connection.