A field trial was conducted at the CSIR-Crops Research Institute (CRI) experimental fields; Fumesua to identify the appropriate soil medium which best conserves soil nutrients and water for rapid growth and multiplication of seed yams. The experiment was a pot experiment, a 4 x 3 factorial design, and treatments were arranged in a Complete Randomized Design with three replications. The treatments consisted of four yam varieties; Mankrong Pona, Dente, Kukrupa and CRI Pona and three different soil media which were: blacksoil, blacksoil (5 parts): carbonized rice husk (3 parts) mixture and blacksoil (5 parts): sawdust (3 parts). This study was designed to evaluate the rooting and tuberization (mini tubers) potentials of vine cuttings of four yam varieties. Vine cuttings from 120 days old plants were collected from the yam varieties for root formation. Two nodes leafy vine cuttings were prepared and planted. The parameters measured were: percentage sprouting, percentage vine establishment, vine length, percentage root formation, mini tuber weight and number of mini tubers. Percentage sprouting in blacksoil/carbonized rice husk was significantly higher (P < 0.05) than all other soil treatments effects and Dente varietal effect was significantly higher than all other varietal effects. Percentage vine establishment was significantly higher in the blacksoil/carbonized rice husk media and higher percentage vine establishment was recorded in Dente variety. The study also revealed that the highest rooting of vines was in blacksoil/carbonized rice husk which was significantly higher than all other treatment effects and the poorest rooting was in blacksoil/sawdust mixture. Among the yam varieties, rooting in Dente was significantly higher than all the other varieties. The greatest number of tubers was in blacksoil/carbonized rice husk, and this was significantly higher than the other media effects. The Dente variety produced also the greatest number of mini tubers as well as tuber weight than all the other varieties. The weight of mini tubers in blacksoil/carbonized rice husk treatment effects was significantly greater than the others. The results indicated that the Dente variety showed the greatest response to the vine multiplication technology and the blacksoil/carbonized rice husk mixture was the most supporting medium.

Yams are predominantly cultivated in the humid forest, forest savanna transition and the southern guinea savanna (SGS) zones of West Africa. Large percentages of current production are in the SGS (Scott et al., 2006). Yams are usually made into various food items, recipes and confectionary according to individuals’ preference or needs. It is an ancient crop in central West Africa and provides a promising avenue for alleviating the current food crises.

Worldwide yam production in 2007 amounted to 52 million tons, of which Africa produced 96%. Most of the world's production comes from West Africa representing 94%, with Nigeria alone producing 71%, equaling more than 37 million tons. Yam production is declining in some traditional producing areas due to declining soil fertility, increasing pest pressures and the high cost of labor.

Agriculture in Africa is also beset by the limited use of good quality planting materials. Planting materials are the basic unit of crop production and as such they are the most crucial input in agricultural production. Good quality planting materials usage and matching applications of other simple agricultural technologies can lead to doubling of current crop yields in Africa and ensure food security.

Limited availability and cost of planting materials are major constraints to yam production in Africa. Planting materials account for about 50% of the cost of the production. Large amounts of material (about 10,000 seed yams) are needed to plant 1 hectare. If farmers do not buy new seed yams, they must set aside about 30% of their harvest for the next year planting (Kambaska et al., 2009). In addition, seed yams are bulky and perish quickly.

In most tropical countries, food yams are propagated vegetatively by planting small whole tubers or pieces cut from large tubers. This means that some marketable tubers must be reserved for planting. This method competes with yam availability for human consumption and at the same time makes the cultivation expensive for large scale production. The cost of planting material is about 50% of the total outlay for yam production, so there is a need to improve the rate of yam multiplication. As a result of difficulties in propagation, yam is under threat in many traditional areas of production.

The yam mini sett technique which involves the cutting of whole tubers to small pieces (50g) has brought some relief to yam growers in obtaining more seed yam. In spite of this, additional technology called the Vine Multiplication Technique has been proposed as an alternative to quickly multiply seed yams for cultivation. The Vine Multiplication Technique is a newly developed technique introduced by Council for Scientific and Industrial Research-Crops Research Institute of propagating yam seeds through Vine Cuttings. It was developed in partnership with and introduced to farmers since 2008. Yam being a vital crop in Ghana both at the domestic and export markets contributes about 17 of agricultural gross domestic product (GDP) and plays a major function in household food security with more than 2 million tons harvested each year.

In Ghana, of all tuber crops, yam is the most preferred and the second most widely cultivated, after cassava. Yams are highly desired by consumers in the European and American markets, especially in communities with large numbers of West Africans and Caribbeans. The largest number of yams is exported to England. Neighboring countries such as Nigeria, Togo and Benin that produce yam also represent a potential market for seed yam. Like Ghana, these countries do not produce seed yam on a commercial scale and could benefit from increased access to seed yam and increased production of yam for export and domestic consumption.

Despite the important role of yam in the economy of Ghana as source of food and job creation, as much as 30 % of the previous harvest that should have been sold for income or eaten is reserved for planting in the succeeding cropping season. This shows how farmers are constrained in terms of availability and cost of planting materials. The seed system of yam in Ghana include; the traditional system where the yams are milked after the first six months of planting and plants left intact in the soil to allow for the formation of setts to be used for planting in the next season. The harvested yams are often physiologically immature and have short shelf life.

This study was therefore conducted to identify the appropriate soil medium which best conserves soil nutrients and water for rapid growth and multiplication of seed yams.

The specific objectives were to:
Identify the appropriate medium that gives higher percentage of surviving yam shoots and mini tubers.

Identify yam variety that offers the highest shoots and yield from the vine multiplication technique

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Item Type: Ghanaian Topic  |  Size: 61 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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