The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is conducting several production researches to develop best practices that commercial seed producers can adopt to boost seed production in Ghana and Nigeria.
This is in a bid to address the challenges that commercial seed producers face with cultivating planting materials generated from the HRPTs on the field.
In 2019, seed companies raised concerns about seed yam production using aeroponic system (AS) vine seedlings, particularly the expenses of installing irrigation for the production of seed yam, and the fragility of AS vine seedling on the field.
So, IITA took up the challenge to explore seed yam production using AS vine seedlings under rainfed conditions as well as the rooting and survival variability of AS vine cuttings from the top, middle and basal parts of mother plants.
Through the production research, the Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA) project ascertained two key hypotheses; firstly, the production of seed yam using AS vine seedlings under rainfed condition is feasible.
Secondly, the top and basal parts of the mother plant in the AS were better at rooting and were more productive in the field, respectively. The team recorded more than 90% survival for single node vines cut from the top and about 75% survival of single node vines cut from the basal part of the mother plant.
This year, the team at IITA-HQ, Ibadan under the supervision of Dr. Norbert Maroya, YIIFSWA-II Project Leader and Principal Scientist of the AS research has established a rain-fed experimentation in the field to compare the productivity of the top and basal AS single- node vine seedlings from two varieties using planting densities of 40,000, 50,000, 80,000, and 100,000 plants per hectare at the West Bank of IITA lake, harvest.
Even with the spacing of 10 cm between plants (100,000 plants per hectare), the plants are doing well, he said, adding, “with such findings, the only challenge for commercial seed producers would be to produce enough planting materials in time for the rains.
‘’If producers want to go the route of rain-fed agriculture, they should note that the rains become more frequent in May/June, so they should have the vine cuttings in their nurseries by April/May for the roots and shoots to develop in time for planting in June.”
In Abuja, the project under the supervision of Dr. Beatrice Aighewi, YIIFSWA-II Seed System Specialist, is exploring how to produce seed yam using cuttings more effectively, efficiently, and economically. Several pieces of research have been set up to determine:
Effect of composite substrates on rooting and mini tuber production, with 12 combinations of topsoil rice husk and cocopeat
Rooting in polyethene plastic sheets, direct planting of nodal cuttings on nursery beds (for tuber production), optimising the use of space in mini tuber production using cocopeat and rice husk, performance of different sizes of mini tubers in seed or ware tuber production, and effect of plant population on seed yam production.
To raise awareness and facilitate the adoption of the best practices developed from the research, IITA will prepare communication materials (leaflets and booklets) that will be disseminated to interested partners.