Nigeria is the world’s most important producer of yam tubers. About 48 million tons (95% of the global supply) are produced annually on 4 million hectares around the world mainly in five countries, Bénin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo. Nigeria alone accounts for 70% of this supply. Yam is rich in carbohydrates, available all year round as tubers and can be stored without high potential losses compared with roots such as cassava (FAO, 2014). In 2016, Nigeria produced 44.11 million tons of yam (67% of total global production) and a decline of 8.1% from the 2014 figures. Nigeria has a productivity potential of 80 million tons per annum (FAOSTAT).

Although Nigeria’s production potential could double, it is held back by dearth in the level of input supply especially labour. Yam production is extremely labour-intensive. Scholars point out that labour alone accounts for about 78.1% of production cost of yam. The National Centre for Agricultural mechanization (NCAM) has fabricated a tractor-mounted heap-making machine to solve the humongous problem of labour supply for yam production. The heap-making machine has a capacity of making 1,000 heaps per day and can be put into active use for 12 hours every day.

In 2011, the FAO stipulated that the economic value of Nigeria’s yam was as high as US$5.654 billion. This revenue was derived from about 2,837,000 hectares of cultivated field. Recent figures of Nigeria’s production are reported as over 44 million tons per annum meaning the revenue as well should have reached an estimated US$10 billion.

With increased use of improved varieties like yam mini-sett, proper use of fertilizers and better use of agro-chemicals as well as the tremendous opportunity embedded in the newly fabricated heap-making machine the yam production system in Nigeria can fulfil its potential of 80 million tons per hectare.

The heap-making machine also provides an excellent opportunity for land expansion as well as aggregation of land into larger mechanizable units. An expansion of cultivated hectarage to 5 million hectares can see production rise to nearly 60 million tons per annum. If cultivated area rises to 10 million hectares and proper agronomic practices are maintained yield could reach up to 100 million tons per annum and the revenue generation will as well hit sky height.

The innovative fabrication of heap-making machine by NCAM is a first and critical step in revolutionizing yam tuber production in Nigeria. Further revolution will include development of cottage industries, viable transportation networks, and development of the yam value chain that is becoming more and more exotic as they years go by. Consumerist demands have driven innovation into a number of products like poundo, yam spaghetti/noodles and other novel products. The opportunity is massive and the capacity only needs to be properly developed.

Seed & Mech Hubs through our subsidiary; Farmers Bridge will be providing Mechanize Yam Heap Making services for Yam farmers in the Country. Are you a Yam farmer desirous to reduce the drudgery in Heap Making?  Call on us today for maximum satisfaction.