Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cocoyam with an annual output of 3.2mn tonnes.
The drive for economic diversification is likely to see more emphasis on the production of tubers like cocoyam.
Cocoyam is a traditional staple root crop, commonly grown among small-scale farmers who operate within the subsistence economy.
In the past, it is regarded as a lowly crop, which cultivation and consumption lay among the less privileged farmers, but presently it is consumed by Nigerians of different cadres.
Cocoyam production plays vital role in alleviating the problem of food security and income generation for farmers who embrace its cultivation.
Its cultivation is cheaper and very easy to maintain compared to other crops, and matures steadily without fear of poor production.
Cocoyam is planted a bit later in the rainy season, in the months of May and June.
This is because it requires more moisture to germinate.
Harvest for cocoyam begins in late September and ends around January, just before the dry season becomes too hot.
Cocoyam thrives better on a well-drained loamy soil and can be planted immediately the rain is steady.
It produces optimum yields when planted in fertile soil with a good water retention capacity.
Most cocoyam varieties mature in about eight months from planting.
It has two main varieties; white and pink, and can be planted on the crest of the heaps or ridges at one meter apart on row.
It is very easy to mix with other crops when planting.
It doesn’t need much labour when planted, compared to other crops.
The mixed farming option was because cocoyam could be planted alongside maize, melon or other grains and it requires weeding twice during the growing period.
Plant them on the crest of the heaps or ridges at 1 meter apart on row.
A whole cormel or cut sett from corms is planted at about 15-20cm deep.
The sett or corm should not be too big or too small.
The cut surface of the sett should face upwards in a slanting position.
A whole corm or cormel can be cut into setts for planting.
About 10,000 corms can be planted per hectare.
Yields are variable depending on the variety but may be in the region of 4 – 10 t/ha.
The Merciful Merchants