August 20, 2017

$12m project on yam production in Nigeria, Ghana coming

yam farm

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and  its  partners  have announced  a  new initiative to boost yam productivity and double the incomes of  three million yam farmers in West Africa.

The initiative, Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA) project, is supported by a $12 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

It would be led by IITA in collaboration with Nigeria and Ghana, the United Kingdom’s Natural Resources Institute (NRI), the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

The project will focus on increasing yields through better seed tuber supply and improving markets for the crop.

Its  Director-General,  Dr  Nteranya Sanginga, said increasing yields would help boost the income of yam  farmers.

“Right now, most farmers cultivate yams mainly for household consumption, but if we can increase yields while also improving marketing conditions, then many of these farmers should be able to earn a steady income from growing yams

“Yam prices have been rising in recent years because there is a strong demand for the crop in Africa, and even in places such as Europe and the United States, where rapidly growing West African immigrant communities still have a big appetite for their traditionally preferred staple,’’ he said.

The project is an ambitious, multifaceted five-year effort aimed at doubling the incomes of three million small-holder farmers.

Its initial focus is on 200,000 smallholder farm families in Nigeria and Ghana, 90 per cent of whom cultivate less than two acres.

A key priority is to ensure that affordable pest- and disease-free seed yams are available to farmers  with storage and handling technologies that can reduce post-harvest loss.

Yam breeders will develop and widely disseminate new, higher-yielding, disease-resistant varieties.

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