The Lost Inheritance of Yam Production in Nigeria


A bit of history

Festivals are known to be celebrated throughout Africa, a major one, was the Festival of Yams. Historically in certain African communities, only the king or the head of a community and royal families were allowed to eat the new yam in a season, before every ordinary member of the community.

In Nigeria, especially in Yorubaland, yam festivals took place annually and it was widely believed that yam brings fortunes to every community whenever the harvest of new yam begins. More than culture, yam is a major source of economic revenue for some states in the western part of Nigeria, and also some parts of the middle belt such as Benue State. Ekiti State solemnly depends on yam for socioeconomic relevance, over years even before it became a state due to the absence of crude oil in the zone.

Current challenges

The major challenges faced by the farmers who depend on yam cultivation as a source of income has been the lack of governmental support in tackling some issues such as climate change, which has resulted in the reduced ecological fertility of their soil and depreciation in the output of yams.

Another factor recognized in Ekiti State resulting in the reduction in yams is the age of the cultivators – many youth have dreams that deviate from careers as agriculturalists. As the leading economic center on the African continent youth graduating from university have a greater focus on professions in foreign trade or the use of soft skills that could yield more money and international recognition.

What can be done

  • A focus on technologies such as irrigation machinery may be the key to enhance production on a large scale, as Ghana seeks to take over Nigeria as the largest producer of yams in Africa and the world.
  • Information to forecast and plan the season against unpredictable climate changes in greater cooperation with the government and governmental ministries such as Agricultural Extension Services and other formulated bodies.
  • Contrary to the importance of the governmental bodies while planning the budget of the country every year, maintenance of the people who assume these offices and transitional posts is currently not a priority and needs to be.