A traditional ruler, Eze Emmanuel Oparachukwu, says farmers cultivating yam in the Eastern part of the country needed government support to plant enough for export.
Oparachukwu, the traditional ruler of Ahiazu, Mbaise in Imo, made the appeal in an interview with the newsmen in Lagos.
According to him, yam farmers in Ebonyi, Anambra, Imo, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Rivers have yet to queue into yam export because of lack of government support.
“What yam farmers plant and harvest now is just enough to feed local consumers around the country and not for export.
“I think yam farmers have not looked at that possibility of export but with government support they can start thinking along that line,” he said.
Oparachukwu said that yam was cherished in the eastern part and indeed all over the country and it had always been regarded as the king of crops.
He said that in the East, yam was preserved in barns where it would be fresh and good till the next planting season.
According to him, in preparing the barns, trees that will germinate and keep fresh all year round is used.
He said this was to avoid the incidence of the trees drying up and falling and destroying the yams.
The traditional ruler said that in the barns, yams were skillfully tied front and back around special trees in two rows with each containing about 16 yams, adding that a barn could contain up to 2,000 yams.
Oparachukwu said that yam farmers that had up to 100 barns was automatically awarded the title of “Ezeji” which means “King of yam”.
He said that the barns could be located in the farm or in the farmers compound, but that it had to be covered with dry leaves to shed it from intense sunlight.
The traditional ruler said that besides the barn, there was no other special thing added to preserve the yam till the next farming season.
Oparachukwu said that the celebration of the New Yam Festival was key to the preservation of yam.
He said that during new yam celebrations, prayers were offered to God, thanking Him for the good yields and imploring Him to keep the yams fresh till the next planting season.
Yams from Ontisha and Abakaliki were of good grades and were among the first to hit the market every harvest season in the eastern part of the country