The University of Ibadan will hold a stakeholders’ workshop on seed yam production using low-cost bioreactors on 14 July, 2015 The stakeholders’ workshop, which will consider year-round production and availability of seed yam using plant tissue culture technology will come up in the First Bank's Auditorium of the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry.
This forms part of the objectives of the project “Improving Yam (Dioscorea spp) seed systems through production of dormancy-controlled seed tubers in Temporary Immersion Bioreactors” according to the principal investigator, Dr. Morufat Balogun, a geneticist and tissue culture specialist in the Department of Crop Protection and Environmental Biology, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Ibadan.
The project is funded through the National Science Foundation-Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) Science programme under the Prime Agreement entered into between the United States’ National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) (http://www.nas.edu/peerscience). The project is a collaboration between the University of Ibadan and the Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Balogun further explained that the project has been researching into growing yam in Temporary Immersion Bioreactors- a system that feeds the yam plant with liquid nutrients intermittently in sterile containers, to produce small tubers and investigate control of their dormancy. It is about bringing advanced technology to farmers at reduced costs. She said: " We will be training and reviewing the technology with farmers and extension agents from Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti states, working with the Agricultural Development Programmes. Other national and international partner institutions and agencies expected at the workshop include National Root Crops Research Institute, National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and the National Biotechnology Development Agency. We are looking at creating a yam seed production network of scientists, seed producers and farmers for seed sector development. These activities can easily spread to other states of Nigeria through their ADP offices." ‘’The underground tuber of the yam plant is a major source of carbohydrate and income in West Africa. Nigeria alone produces 70 per cent of global yam production, equivalent to 50 million metric tons per year (FAO, 2013). Thus, there are quite a large number of farmers that make their livelihood from yam’’. In spite of its importance, yam seed is seasonal, causing surplus of yam at a time but limited availability and high cost of consumer-preferred varieties at other times of the year, she said. The principal investigator stated that the seed problem is due in part to tuber dormancy, the inability of tubers to sprout for 2-3 months in spite of favourable environmental conditions, which prevents year-round production, and uncontrolled sprouting after dormancy break which causes storage losses and reduces profits. This contrasts with maize, whose seeds can be grown anytime of the year with irrigation. With the changing climate of extreme floods and drought, manipulating production cycles is a coping strategy for yam production. Reports have shown that yam production is, and can even be more profitable, with Nigeria becoming the major exporter of yam to other parts of the world. It is obvious that yam is a crop that should enjoy attention in the effort to alleviate poverty among farming communities, especially if constraints of seed systems are addressed. The immediate application of this technology is in production of disease-free seedlings and conservation of yam genetic resources without losses associated with field collections in addition to out-of-season production and to manipulate the storage cycle in a release by the Director of Public Communication, University of Ibadan, Mr. Olatunji Oladejo.