If coronavirus has not taught you anything at all, at least not that you should not depend on one source of income. You have read and heard of how companies are laying off workers. The fate of private school teachers is more pitiful because they have stayed home without a salary for a very long time. Farming comes in handy when you think of an alternative source of livelihood. But you may not enjoy or get any profit from it when you enter blindly.
Farming is good but never attempt to venture into it when you don’t have time, a good caretaker or money. This write up is for those who are ready to venture into yam (Dioscorea spp) farming and would need some information to help them know what to do and what not to do.
The first thing you should consider is the specie or type of yam you would want to cultivate. There are several species of yams grown in Ghana, but not all will fetch you much money. You first have to do a market analysis of the prices of each specie before you decide. And each specie sells differently depending on the market; if you have access to the international market, you can do some findings there to ascertain the price per tuber/gram over there.
But for Ghana, the most sold yam is the Dioscorea cayennensis subsp. Rotundata, which is known as a guinea yam. In local settings, they are called pona or laberkor. That is the most expensive type of yam that can fetch you money in Ghana. This is a multipurpose type of yam. It can be boiled, roasted, fried or pounded into fufu, so you can sell it at any market in Ghana.
The mistakes most people do
People compare yam to any other crop and would want to apply the same method in the cultivation, and this can be dangerous.
1. People apply fertilizer: Yam does not require the application of synthetic fertilizer. You should choose a soil that has an appreciable level of nutrient already.
2. You don’t need too much water to cultivate yam. Yam is not a water-loving crop, and you wouldn’t need an irrigation system on the farm. When you cultivate it in a water log area like in clayey soil, the tubers will rot after yielding, and it will be a loss to you.
3. You don’t need pesticides: Yams do not need pesticides to be sprayed on the leaves. Most of the pests that destruct yam are in the soil and cannot be controlled by spraying. It is essential to sterilize the soil before planting to reduce the level of infection by centipedes and termites that might eat into it.
4. The size of the tuber of the yam is dependent on the size of the mound you raise. High mounds will give you big tubers.
5. Yam should be placed in the mound at a depth of about 17 to 40 cm.
6. Yam should be staked with small sticks. This will expose the leaves of the plant to adequate sunshine for photosynthesis which will translate into yielding.
Much care should be given to the yam plant. Weed control should be done manually with hand. It is dangerous to spray chemicals on the farm since you cannot discriminate between the weeds and the leaves of the yam.
I wish you a happy Yam farming!