Yam Outline

Yam is considered the most important food staple in West Africa where 70% of the total yams produced worldwide comes from. Every year, festivals and rituals are carried out in different parts of the region to mark the arrival of the new yam. Apart from these festivals and rituals, there is huge profit in yam farming business especially as it relates to Exportation. Five hundred by five hundred meters size of farmland could yield you 50,000 tubers of yam which is valued at N10 million ($50,000) at one dollars per yam.

This is a golden opportunity for any serious farmer who would like to take advantage of this season to cultivate yam in large quantity. Apart from selling locally, yam can be exported to the United States of America, United Kingdom, Netherlands, France, Germany, and even Japan. While Nigeria is the major producer of yam in the world followed by Ivory Coast, Ghana is in the other hand the major exporter of yams, accounting for over 90% of total yams exported from West Africa annually.



Many parts of the corn plant are used in industry. Cornstarch can be broken down into corn syrup, a common sweetener that is generally less expensive than sucrose; high-fructose corn syrup is used extensively in processed foods such as soft drinks and candies. Stalks are made into paper and wallboard; husks are used as filling material; cobs are used directly for fuel, to make charcoal, and in the preparation of industrial solvents. Corn grain is processed by wet milling, in which the grain is soaked in a dilute solution of sulfurous acid; by dry milling, in which the corn is exposed to a water spray or steam; and by fermentation, in which starches are changed to sugars and yeast is employed to convert the sugars into alcohol. Corn husks also have a long history of use in the folk arts for objects such as woven amulets and corn-husk dolls.

Maize is increasingly used as a feedstock for the production of ethanol fuel. Ethanol is mixed with gasoline to decrease the amount of pollutants emitted when used to fuel motor vehicles. High fuel prices in mid-2007 led to higher demand for ethanol, which in turn lead to higher prices paid to farmers for maize. This led to the 2007 harvest being one of the most profitable maize crops in modern history for farmers. Because of the relationship between fuel and maize, prices paid for the crop now tend to track the price of oil.


The usual planting time for white yam is March to April, depending on the time the tuber dormancy is broken, as indicated by the sprouting of tubers under storage and upon start of rain in a particular area. This means that you have to start the pre-sprouting process well ahead of the planting time, at least for 3 weeks

The distance between the planted yam should be 1m x 1m and at a depth of about 10cm. When planting coincides with a dry spell, setts are planted in any orientation about 15 cm deep if the field will not be mulched. About 20,000 to 27,778 setts are needed for one hectare of farmland.

Pre-sprouted setts. Setts are usually planted at the start of rain if the field cannot be irrigated or will not be mulched. The same planting distance and depth for non-pre-sprouted setts are used. When planting, setts should be oriented so that sprouts are up. To achieve this, the cut surface has to face the ground.

In staggered planting, the field is divided into four up to six sections – a section for a batch of setts ready for planting. The size of each section and the time each section is prepared is guided by the rate of sprouting of setts.


Yams are ready for harvest when its foliage is already yellowing or drying up. The yellowing or drying up period of the foliage usually starts in late November and lasts until February the following year. Tubers, especially those intended to be used as setts for next season’s planting are harvested at the later part of the period. Tubers intended for consumption or for the market are sometimes harvested earlier, even before foliage yellowing sets in.

A hoe or a similar handtool is used to dig around the tuber to loosen it from the soil. Then the tuber is lifted and clinging soil particles are removed. The vine is cut at the base to complete the harvesting.

For sandy soil, sturdy stick sharpened at one end is sometimes used to dig out the tuber. For clay soil and for varieties with deeply buried tubers, other specialized harvesters like shovel may be used. Whatever tool is to be used to harvest the tubers, it is important that care should be exercised so as not to injure yam while digging as that may reduce the market value and hasten it’s decay.

After tubers are cleaned, they are collected and placed in rattan baskets or bamboo or wooden crates lined with soft materials such as banana leaves, paper or grass straw. Healthy and diseased tubers are placed in separate containers. The tubers are arranged in the container in two to four layers, depending on tuber size, and a soft material that can serve as cushion is placed between layers and in the spaces between tubers in a layer. The container is then covered with paper or banana leaves and a string net is woven over the mouth of the container if the tubers are to be transported immediately to the market. No cover is provided for the container if the tubers are to be transported to a nearby storage place.

When you are done harvesting, take your product to the market and make sales. Yam farming is lucrative as yam is a very important commodity in the market and sells very fast.


Yam is major staple in any Nigerian home, so the market will always be there. Apart from selling locally, yam can be exported to the United States of America, United Kingdom, Netherlands, France, Germany, and even Japan.