CSIR-SARI introduces yam leaf cuttings technology to farmers

By Albert Futukpor

Kabache (S/R), Sept 20, GNA – A new technology where seed yam is produced from yam leaf bud cuttings instead of the traditional cutting of the tubers to produce seed yam has been introduced to some farmers in the East Gonja Municipality of the Savannah Region.

The leaf cuttings are propagated using special techniques to produce quality disease free seed yam for planting.

A field day was held at Kabache – Kasawurape and Kabache in the municipality to showcase to farmers the benefits of the new technology.

It was undertaken by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (CSIR-SARI), and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) as part of the Programme for Seed System Innovation of Vegetatively-propagated Crops in Africa (PROSSIVA) project.

Dr Kwabena Darkwa, a Research Scientist, specialising in yam breeding at CSIR-SARI, who explained the technology to the about 120 farmers during the field day, said the new technology had a high multiplication ratio where a single leaf was capable of yielding up to 150 new plants in just four months compared to the four to eight new seeds produced per year from the traditional approach.

He said it would address the challenges farmers’ faced in sourcing high quality seed yam including incurring huge cost on their conventional seed yam, which were often laden with disease and pest.

The PROSSIVA project seeks to develop and validate packages of innovations to strengthen functional seed systems of yam and positively impact smallholder farmers and consumers in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030.

It also seeks to increase the productivity of the vegetatively propagated yam by increasing the volumes of seed sales and building capacities for seed production and marketing thereby contributing to poverty alleviation and improved livelihoods, particularly for women and youth.

Professor Morufat Balogun, Leader of the PROSSIVA Yam Component, said the changing environmental conditions such as shifting rainfall patterns and evolving disease dynamics called for innovation in yam production.

She said, “The failure to adapt could lead to reduced yields underscoring the necessity of innovation in yam farming. The seed yam, produced from the leaf cuttings, are smaller in size than the conventional ones, but produce bigger tubers as compared to the traditional seed yam.”

Sali Alhassan, a yam farmer from Kabache – Kasawurape, highlighted the marked difference observed between leaves of the plants propagated with the traditional seed yam and those produced through seed yam introduced to them.

He said, “The seed they showed us looked very small compared to our conventional seed yam but comparing the plants on the field with ours, I can see that the plants from our conventional seed tubers have few leaves with disease symptoms while the plants from the introduced seed yam have healthier, disease-free leaves. This, ultimately, I believe will lead to higher yields.”

Dr. Beatrice Aighewi, Yam Seed Systems Specialist at IITA, also encouraged the farmers to adopt good agronomic practices to improve their crop yield, saying the new technology coupled with good agronomic practices promised to help farmers to increase yield and help with the battle for food security.

Mr Wilhelm Kutah, Public Relations Officer of CSIR-SARI, said the new technology and the emphasis on producing healthy seeds would reshape yam farming and empower rural communities by ensuring sustainable agriculture in an ever-changing landscape.