Sunday, 28th May 2023

Yam revolution for food security

By Sereba Agiobu-Kemmer
18 June 2022   |   2:44 am
The ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, coupled with supply chain constraints that already existed prior to the war, is wreaking havoc with food prices globally.

The ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, coupled with supply chain constraints that already existed prior to the war, is wreaking havoc with food prices globally.

This has thrust food security into the top agenda of most governments around the world. As a result, at least 30 countries have imposed export bans on various food items.

Recently, United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Autonio Guterres told the Security Council that the Russia-Ukraine war has led to a huge drop in food exports and price increases of up to 30 per cent for staple foods that poses the threat of hunger across Africa and the Middle East regions with food prices already high due to supply disruptions caused by the COVID-19 and weather disturbances last year. The cascading effects of the war have affected the global food markets situation from bad to worse. Agricultural protection is at its highest level.

“Thus, this is a dangerous moment” Guterres says: “No country is immune” to the possibility of facing a food crisis.

Also, the group of seven industrialised nations warned of the possibility of a global hunger crisis, unless Russia ends the war in Ukraine.

Rising populations is also one of the key factors causing food security for countries that do not have sufficient domestic supplies of food and food insecurity would become a serious issue, both socially and economically.

The countries that would be hardest hit are the developing countries, as most of the global population that faces food security problems and self-sufficiency live in developing countries.

The COVID-19 pandemic and economic slowdown have further disrupted food supply chains and aggravated the situation in these countries.

One way to overcome food insecurity in countries is by promoting home gardening and farming, that is less labour and resource intensive, which would result in sustainable food production.

Another solution is ensuring stable food security around the world, as it will be driven by challenges of climate variability, political conflicts, high food prices and consumer dietary habits among others.

Any meaningful solutions to global food insecurity requires increase in stable food production and sustainability.

Yam, any of the several plant species of the genus dioscorea (family dioscoreaceae) are grown for their edible tubers. Yams are staple food crop to the population in Africa, West Indies, South America and parts of Asia.

Yams are native to warmer regions of both hemisphere, and several species are cultivated as stable food crops in the tropical region of the world in the relatively hot conditions. Their climbing vines have heart-shaped leaves and their underground tubers grow to weights of typically take about five to seven months to mature and ready to harvest when their shamrock-like green tops turn yellow and die. So, yams can be produced twice a year. In certain tropical cultures, notably in West Africa, the yam is the primary agricultural commodity and the focal point of elaborate cultural customers and rituals.

Yams are consumed as cooked starchy vegetable. They are often boiled, made into porridge, mashed into a dough to accompany soups. They can also be fried, roasted or baked in the manner of potatoes or sweet potatoes, which are unrelated.

Leaves: Yam leaves are edible similar in texture and flavour to spinach and can be prepared similarly, used in raw salads, finely chopped and mixed into grain bowls smoothies or juiced and mixed with fruit juices as a green drink.

Major Species
Yam flesh ranges in colour from white to yellow, pink, or purple and varies in taste from sweet to butter to tasteless.

Most yams contain an acrid principle that is dissipated in cooking. Indian yam (D. Trifida) and winged or water yam (D. Alata) are the edible species most widely diffused in tropical and subtropical diffused in tropical and subtropical countries. The tubers of D. Alata sometimes weigh 4511bs (100 pounds Guinea yam (D. Rotundata) and yellow Guinea yam (D. Cayenesis) are also yam species grown in West Africa.

Lesser yam (D. Esculenta), grown on the sub- continental of India, in southern Vietnam, and South pacific islands, is one of the tastiest yams. Chinese yam. (D. Polystachya), also known as cinnamon vine, is widely cultivated in East Asia.

In Nigeria, Taraba State is the top region that has the best production of yam in Nigeria. Benue is the second largest producing state. Nigeria is the largest producer of yam in West Africa, thanks to these states.

Though Nigeria is a major producer and consumer of the staple crop, yet we have not sustained productions to tackle the domestic food insecurity, the fight to alleviate hunger food not to even speak of supporting exports on a commercial scale.

For hundreds of years, yam was the most important food in many parts of Africa. South America, the West Indies, the pacific islands and some parts of the Asia. There are many traditions associated with yam, including ceremonies and festivals, which shows their importance in traditional society.