The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is deepening its yam product advancement and refinement in West Africa.

The Institute has already has concluded its meeting on the yam project in Abuja. 

AfricaYam is a project with the main objective of enhancing yam breeding for increased productivity and improved quality in West Africa. 

The five-day meeting in Abuja was organised for yam product profile refinement and advancement.

Stakeholders at the meeting consisted of farmers, traders, representatives of ministries, exporters, AfricaYam partners from Benin and Côte d’Ivoire, and different crop scientists from IITA.

They were all given an opportunity during the meeting to share experiences, challenges, and achievements through the paper presentation, discussions, and general remarks.

Speaking at the meeting, IITA Director of Research for West Africa, Robert Asiedu, appreciated the organisers for their excellent efforts in bringing stakeholders together but regretted the fact that some colleagues from Ghana could not attend the event as a result of the travel restrictions placed on their country due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

He enjoined participants to vibrantly share experiences, learn from one another, challenge each other, and come up with discussions that will be significant and add value to the output of farmers. 

Finally, he encouraged them to interact and share knowledge with each other so that whatever decisions were taken at the workshop will advance the cause of yam in Africa.

AfricaYam Project Leader Patrick Adebola gave an overview of the AfricaYam project. The project started in October 2014 and will be terminating in April 2020. 

He mentioned the four operational countries for the project: Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria.

According to Adebola, the major objective of AfricaYam is to enhance food security and improve livelihoods by increasing productivity and the sustainability of yam cultivation and reducing the costs for smallholders, producers, and consumers in West Africa. 

During his presentation, he highlighted the activity streams of the AfricaYam project, which lie primarily in capacity building, development of genomic resources, and breeding population development. 

The Project Leader also gave a summary of the project achievements in phase I and the prospects of AfricaYam project phase II.

The AfricaYam product Advancement and Refinement meeting featured several presentations from scientists and invited stakeholders on different topics. 

Six paper presentations divided into two sessions were presented daily with discussions on papers presented coming up after each session. General reflections were examined to ascertain the outcome of the project and the way forward.

In his closing remarks, Asiedu described yam as a powerful engine for poverty alleviation. He stressed the need for a lot more advocacy for the crop, stating that not many people understand the crop. 

He advised the need for greater attention to seed production and quality of varieties being developed as the impact will only be seen in the future. 

He finally encouraged the scientists to tap from the abundant indigenous knowledge about the crop, which will serve as a catalyst for developing new varieties.