For inestimable reasons, intensive production of yam is overtly one of the most rewarding farm businesses in Africa but its economic advantages are underutilized by countries.
Yam is of the most important and common food staple in Africa as it comes in various forms. Prominent among these are pounded yam, porridge, fried yam, yam flour and lots more.
Yam offers numerous nutritional and health benefits. Its complex carbohydrates and fiber slows the rate at which sugars are released and absorbed into the bloodstream.
In some parts of Nigeria, yam symbolizes wealth and cultural ideals. History affirms that the wealth of an average Igbo man in Nigeria is measured by the quantity of yam he harvests.
Economically, the demand for yam is huge which makes it a lucrative venture, if well managed. In addition, it could also be considered for exportation to other countries which in turn serves as a means of foreign exchange.
In West Africa, Ghana is the third largest yam producer in after Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire. Conversely, in terms of exportation, Ghana accounts for over 94 percent of total yam exports in West Africa placing the country ahead of others. About 90 percent of Ghana’s yams are exported to the US, UK and the Netherlands.
This confronts us with the questions; What are the economic benefits of yam production in Nigeria? How is Nigeria the largest producer of yam in West Africa but Ghana is the largest exporter of yam in the same region? Nigeria and Ivory Coast’s eyes are still blind to the opportunities that exist in their hands.
It is trite to note that with the standard recommended spacing of 1metre apart, hundred meters of yam ridge takes 100 yams. In the same vein, five hundred by five hundred metres would conveniently yield 50,000 tubers of yam in a year. Consequently, the 50,000 tubers of yam could amount to N10 million in a year.
As regards production, the cultivation of 500 x 500 meters of yam will require N3-4 million as startup capital. But after harvesting and with good marketing strategy, N10 million could be made from this, with a profit of N6 million in a year. Why would one prefer to languish in poverty and hardship when there is viable opportunity in yam farming?.