To enable yam farmers overcome the challenge of constant search for soil fertility and staking for sustainable high yield production, research scientists are making progress in exploring solutions by introducing farmers to the Pigeon Pea–Yam Cropping System for improved yam productivity.
The new planting system, implemented by the Crops Research Institute (CRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and partners, has been identified as sustainable for yam production in the face of depleting soils and climate change.
The Instituting is initiating measures to ensure that farmers are able to use continuously cropped lands for yam, instead of searching for virgin lands which are non-existent.
Under the technology, the pigeon pea is used as allays with the yams planted in-between the ridges. The system also involves placing the pigeon pea at the border zone which are cut and used at stakes – the direct access to stakes saves the farmers from the labour, transportation and cost of buying stakes.
At the end of the three-year project in 2020, the researchers are hoping to come out with a technology that will be appreciated by farmers. Already, the results of field trials are showing good prospects.
Farmers in yam producing areas like Atebubu-Amantim, Ejura, Techiman and Kintampo in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions have been involved in the new cropping system at an on-station trial field at Aframso in the Ejura-Sekyeredumase District of the Ashanti region.
Most of the farmlands are far from the communities as they shift cultivation in search of fertile lands.
Research scientist on the project, Eric Owusu Danquah, explains the technology addresses staking which is crucial in yam production. The pigeon pea conserves moisture and fixes atmospheric nitrogen. The leaves or biomass, which are cut and spread before land preparation, also add to the soil carbon and nutrient stock in sustaining soil fertility.
During an evaluation exercise on trial fields, the farmers chose the field planted with pigeon pea and the recommended 50 percent fertilizer application. This option had better yield with low disease rate on the produce.
The Pigeon Pea Yam Cropping System has been identified as viable in improved yam productivity.