Yam farmers in Katsina State are expecting a bumper harvest amidst high market price of farm produce and other food items.
Our correspondent in the state reports that for over 100 years, yam is cultivated in Maska, Funtua Local Government Area of the state.
According to farmers, almost every variety of the crop can be grown in the area.
However, a popular farmer in Asharaha village, Sani Mustapha, said the evolution of new crops like soybeans had reduced the volume of yam produced in the area.
“Our grandparents were known for the production of cotton, sorghum, groundnut and yam, but with the evolution of hybrid maize, soybeans, rice and beans, the volume of yam production reduced significantly, until recently when the youth joined to revive the lost glory of the area,’’ he said.
Sani added that the most produced varieties in the area were maisaki, sakata and buki.
They source their seeds from Zaria and other parts of Kaduna State, as well as Sarkin Pawa in Niger State.
“Unlike other farm produce, such as maize, we don’t take our yams to market, instead buyers from Faskari, Malumfashi, Kafir come to our farms to purchase it.
“Some of us don’t only produce it, we buy in bulk and take it to Kano, Katsina and Niger Republic, where we sell at higher rate,’’ the farmer said.
He further said 60 big tubers cost N20,000 in the farm.
According him, a farm that can give 30 bags of maize can yield a yam worth N500,000.
Another farmer, Haruna Idris, said high demand and cost of farm produce this year was making some farmers smile to the bank, even as others were preparing for a bumper harvest.
“If you observe our markets this year, the demand for food items has put us at an advantage stage, and God willing, many of us will make huge profits from our sweat this harvest period,’’ he said.
He added that the only problem they encountered was overnight theft of the produce in the farms.
“Because of how farm produce became gold of sorts this year, thieves are disturbing us in the farms.
“We have no option than to mount night guards in the farms,’’ he added.
Another reason we are prone to thieves, he said, was that the Maska area and Damari in Sabuwa Local Government Area are the main yam producing areas in southern part of the state.
Sani Ahmed Funtua, a retired agricultural worker and farmer, urged the government to conduct a research that would unravel the potentials of the southern part of the state in agriculture.
“Over the years, we have been paying too much emphasis on maize and sorghum production while we have a fertile land that can produce a lot of crops.
“For example, we have discovered that rice, which we thought could only be cultivated in swampy areas, can grow here.
“Pineapple and banana too can be produced here in commercial quantities,’’ Ahmed Funtua said.