Low cost innovation hands Homa Bay farmers disease free yams

Yam farmers in Homa Bay county are using a simple technology to produce their own disease-free seed yams for planting which has so far raised production by an impressive 20 percent after years of endless losses.The technology dubbed minisett technique, assists the farmers get better, healthier yam seed so that their production can increase.

The technology involves producing smaller seed yams, smaller than what the farmers are used to be able to come out with the small tubers that later on will be planted to get the big tubers for eating. When the Homa Bay farmers want to grow their own seed yams, for planting the following season, they normally take a yam tuber and cut it into two or three pieces, which they plant.

This is where the problem begins. Farmers traditionally use a cut sett for growing seed yam, usually larger size, and they normally dust it with wood ash. The size of the tuber and the archaic pest control methods have been responsible for the constant pest and disease attacks.

The minisett technique therefore ensures that farmers use a certain size and treat the tubers with a pesticide coating. “This venture has been as a result of constant gripes by farmers who have scaled their yam cultivation but have constantly been grappling with diseases and pests that have defied conventional pesticides. We had to work hard to trace where the problem emanates from and we realized farmers were the biggest contributors to the problem,”said Faith Wekesa one of the field officers involved in the project.

The aim of the project has been to give farmers a new method, which will enable them to produce a sufficient number of seed yam using only a small part of their harvested crop, and also produce seed yam that are free of diseases.

This should help to ensure that when the seed yam are planted in the following season, they grow into strong healthy plants which produce large, good quality yams for selling or eating. But farmers who grow yam often struggle to get good yields, and one of the main causes of this is that their yam plants are infected by diseases.