In its quest to complement Government’s effort at improving food security, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has embarked on ‘genetic diversity’ land race for yam bean crop.
The crop, with over 40 varieties has the ability to produce both bean and tuber, rich in protein and calories needed for proper human growth and development.
Genetic Professor and Principal Investigator for African yam bean (IITA), Morufat Balogun, yesterday in Kano, described the crop a high nutritional packed crop abandoned due to introduction of quick maturing crops.
According to Balogun, who also lectures at University of Ibadan, the crop has the ability to withstand changing climate conditions as shown by research, promising bumper harvest and food sufficiency for the country and Africa at large.
“African Yam-Bean is an indigenous crop. It is a legume, traditionally held in high importance especially in south western Nigeria”.
“Some use it to make pudding and it’s highly nutritious. People value it so much in places like Oyo North where it is used during festival ceremonies. It is known as food security crop for farmers that cultivate it”.
“Taking Africa Yam-Bean secures the health and nutrition of the family because it contains more than 30 percent of protein, higher than other plants and crops”.
“It also has the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen. All crops usually require nitrogen phosphorus and potassium and some micro-nutrients for them to grow well in the soil”.
“This crop is able to fix the nitrogen in the air and convert it to what is needed in the soil, that means it will reduce the use of synthetic fertilizers and bring farmers more profit by spending less on fertilizers.
“It was forgotten due to national and international support as well as funding for crops like cowpea and soybean and we hope that the rebirth of this crop will lead to better environmental preservation thereby leading to higher food security because it comes with better options and more nutrients”, she added.
In the same vein, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Genetic Resources, IITA Ibadan, Dr. Olaniyi Oyatomi, said, the yam bean is an underutilized legume.
That the institute, worried by inability of most crops around now to withstand climate change, resorted to identifying 5 top accessions for each ecology system in Nigeria out of the 40 accessions available.
Furthermore, Ms. Wumi Jegede, who cultivated the 40 accessions of the African yam bean crop as part of her doctorate project listed the following as some of the importance of the crop as follows;
- It can be used to address the problem of kwashiorkor and marasmus amongst infants.
- Ability to improve the soil through nitrogen fixation.
- Excellent candidate to replace other cereal meals with insufficient protein, amongst other things.