Murang’a Farmer Reaping Big from Aerial Yams

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Simon Ngure, an aerial yams farmer at his farm in Mathioya, Murang'a County

An aerial yam farmer is earning up to KES 30,000 from a single yam plant in his farm. After coffee farming proved futile, Simon Ngure from Kiriani, Mathioya constituency, Murang’a County decided to abandon the crop and venture into aerial yams, a crop he was introduced to by a friend four years ago.

An aerial yam is a long-lived vine that produces short-lived climbing stems each year from an underground tuber.

“I make more than triple the amount I used to get from my 100 meters by 50 meters coffee farm, says Ngure who was one of the exhibitors at the Nyeri Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) show held in Nyeri County from 13th to 16th September 2017.

From the single yam he obtained from a friend, he planted it and after six months he harvested 15 yams which he stored for planting purposes. After reading online about the medicinal benefits of the plant and how one can make bog returns from it, he decided to fully cultivate the crop. He erected posts and sticks 8 feet high for the plants to climb, spread and produce more yams.

“The crop is usually suspended with hanging tubers supported by sticks for maximum production” says Ngure.

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Simon Ngure with his aerial yam seeds at the Nyeri ASK national show in Nyeri County on 15th Sept 2017. He sells each seed at between KES 3 and 5. 

The plant which bears yam is a perennial vine which grows up to 2 meters in length. Yams are quite similar to sweet potatoes but they are no way related to it. The major differences between the two tubers is that yams are larger in size and have thick, brown to pink skin, depending on the cultivar type, while sweet potatoes are relatively smaller in size and have a very thin peel.

To plant it, Ngure dug a hole 11/2 square feet, mixed soil with manure appropriately then planted the yam on top of the hole like the normal potato. The maturity period of the plant is 61/2 months according to him.

Being among the first few farmers to grow the crop in his village, Ngure has since planted about 50 plants in his farm. In a good season, he sells a debe of yams at Ksh 7,000 and earns approximately Ksh. 30,000 from a single stem.  

The crop is slowly gaining popularity among Kenyan farmers due to its ease of growing and high returns.

Yam is a good source of energy and each 100 grams contain 118 calories. It is mainly composed of complex carbohydrates and soluble fiber. It is an excellent source of B complex vitamins like Vitamin B6, Vitamin B1, riboflavin, folic acid, pantothenic acid and niacin. It also contains a good amount of antioxidants and Vitamin C. 

 It provides around 20% of the required Vitamin C in the body per 100 grams. It also contains small amounts of Vitamin A and beta carotene levels. It is a rich source of minerals like copper, potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. 100 grams of yam provides 816 mg of Potassium. It also boosts memory and strengthens bones.

Ngure can be reached on +254 726 354 080.