In the framework of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP), IITA organized farmers’ training and field days on high quality seed yam production at the Abuja Station, on 14 and 17 July. The first meeting was for extension agents and farmers of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA). There were 103 participants: 17 women and 86 men. Two categories of trainees were present: 28 extension agents and 75 farmers, from five area councils of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) – Bwari, Gwagwalada, Kwali, Kuje, and Municipal. On 17 July, there were 39 participants (34 men and 5 women) with 15 extension agents and 24 farmers from the Agricultural Development Project and the Third National Fadama Development Project (FADAMA 3) of the FCT.
Participants learned the advantages of using good quality seeds to enhance their yam production. They also shared their experiences on seed yam production. An experienced farmer who had been using the minisett technology to produce his seed yam said that he used wood ash and crushed neem leaves as treatment instead of the recommended Mancozeb and Chlorpyrifos. There were practical sessions on the minisett technology followed by a field visit where further discussions were held on planting and crop maintenance. In the field, the initial belief that minisetts could not grow (due to their small size) was replaced by curiosity and generated many questions. Some farmers were surprised to learn that yam could be grown on ridges since they had always used mounds. Doubts about the minisett technology were settled after the field visits and discussions, and participants left convinced that it was a technology worth trying.
Separate sessions were held with extension agents to brainstorm on reasons for the low rate of adoption of the technology despite its potential to increase the quality and quantity of seed yam production. Some of the reasons given included: lack of or limited knowledge about the technology among both farmers and extension agents (less than 10% of participants had heard of the technology), the absence of markets for seed yams (especially as mostly farmer-saved seeds are used), and a lack of evidence that seed production could be profitable. Extension agents were also introduced to the use of vine cuttings for the production of seed yams.
Dr Beatrice Aighewi, the IITA yam seed system specialist, said that the meetings were well attended and hoped that the farmers and extension agents would advance the use of the minisett technology to boost yam production in FCT.