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Yam

Overview

Crop Yam Dioscorea Center of origin: SAM-Tro, SAS, SEA, WAF

Yam is the second most important root/tuber crop in Africa after cassava, and is extremely important to food security in regions of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, as well as the tropical Americas.

Virtually all global yam production takes place in the developing world. According to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) a majority of this production (90%) takes place in the ‘yam zone’, comprising Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire. Despite the importance of these countries FAO statistics show that substantial production takes place in 57 countries worldwide, and it is an important staple throughout humid and semi-humid tropical Asia and the Americas.

Of the more than 600 Dioscorea species, seven species constitute the most important staple yams, but many of the wild yams are also important food plants. Yam tubers can range in size from that of a small potato to more than 50 kilos. White yam (Dioscorea rotundata) from Africa and water yam (Dioscorea alata) from Asia are the edible species most widely diffused in tropical and subtropical countries. The West African yellow yam (Dioscorea cayenensis) gets its colour from the presence of carotenoids, and it is a good source of vitamin A. Dioscorea esculenta, grown on the Indian subcontinent, in southern Vietnam, and in the South Pacific islands, is one of the most nutritious yams.

Yam is a very important crop for food security because of its excellent storage properties; it can be stored for four to six months without refrigeration and provides an important food safety net between growing seasons. Bitter yams such as Dioscorea dumetorum have unpleasant and sometimes toxic properties and are eaten in times of food scarcity as a characteristic “famine crop”. Varieties with such properties need to be detoxified by soaking and cooking before eating.

Conserving forever in genebanks

Filter by genebanks

IITA

Number of varieties available to the public
4.7% 180
Data available in genesys
83.3% 3,167

CePaCT

Number of varieties available to the public
0% 0
Data available in genesys
79.7% 247

Breakdown of genebanks conserving Yam

  • IITA 3,804 / 92.5%
  • CePaCT 310 / 7.5%

The Crop Trust has supported 25 projects for Yam

  1. Benin: The Crop Trust supported the Université d’Abomey-Calavi to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 1017 yam accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.
  2. Benin: The Crop Trust supported Laboratoire d’Agrobiodiversité et Amélioration des Plantes Tropicales (LAAPT), Université d’Abomey-Calavi (UAC), Benin to provide on job training and technical support on a methodology to assess yam diversity and farmers preferences in four countries Ghana, Mali and Nigeria
  3. Benin: The Crop Trust supported Laboratoire d’Agrobiodiversité et Amélioration des Plantes Tropicales (LAAPT), Université d’Abomey-Calavi (UAC), Benin to multiply and distribute 288 yam accessions from 41 varieties with drought resistance and good storage qualities to 600 farmers in 30 villages of Northwest Benin.
  4. Benin: The Crop Trust supported Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute (PGRRI) to survey yam producing areas and gather information regarding existing yam diversity and farmers’ preferences with methodology provided by the Laboratoire d’Agrobiodiversité et Amélioration des Plantes Tropicales (LAPPT)
  5. Benin: The Crop Trust supported the Crop, Aromatic and Medicinal Plant Biodiversity Research and Development Institute (IRDCAM) that worked in collaboration with the Institute National de Recherches Agricoles du Benin (INRAB) and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to evaluate 762 yam landraces for 18 traits of importance to climate change with the aim to identify agronomically desirable varieties for farmers use in Benin and the region.
  6. Costa Rica: The Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Centre (CATIE) received support from the Crop Trust to regenerating, characterizing and documenting 118 accessions from the international collection it manages. 57 accessions are safety duplicated in the international Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
  7. Cote d’Ivoire: The Crop Trust supported the Centre National de Recherche Agronomique (CNRA) to regenerate and characterize 502 yam accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. 97 accessions are safety duplicated in the international Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
  8. Fiji: The SPC receives an in-perpetuity grant from the Crop Trust for the long-term conservation of the global collections of yam and edible aroids it holds on behalf of the international community.
  9. Fiji: The Crop Trust provided support to the Ministry of Agriculture in Fiji to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 45 yam accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.
  10. France: L’Institute de Recherché pour le Developpement (IRD) worked with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Nigeria to develop a protocol for the cryopreservation of yam that would allow the routine, large-scale application of cryopreservation for long-term conservation of any yam collection.
  11. Ghana: The Crop Trust supported the Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute (PGRRI) to regenerate and characterize 338 yam accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops. 147 accessions are safety duplicated in the international Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
  12. Ghana: The Crop Trust supported Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute (PGRRI) to survey 401 yam accessions. 89 accessions from 3 species were multiplied and distributed and community genebanks established in 3 communities to increase farmers’ access to diversity
  13. Guadeloupe: The Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) received support from the Crop Trust to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 59 yam accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.
  14. New Caledonia: The Crop Trust supported the Institut Agronomique Néo-Calédonien to regenerate and characterize 137 yam accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. 34 accessions are safety duplicated in the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
  15. Nigeria: The Crop Trust supported the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), which is working with the Institute de Recherché pour le Developpement (IRD), France to develop a protocol for the cryopreservation of yam. The protocol will allow the routine, large-scale application of cryopreservation for long-term conservation of any yam collection.
  16. Nigeria: The Crop Trust supported the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) to evaluate its yam collection for key traits of importance to breeders and farmers in the country, including stay-green ability, resistance to virus disease, tuber rot disease and yam beetle with the aim of identifying potential sources of genes and making them available to breeders.
  17. Nigeria: The National Center for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB) received support from the Crop Trust to survey and collect yam in the Northeastern, North Central and Northwestern parts of Nigeria with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. A total of 363 accessions were collected.
  18. Nigeria: The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) receives an in-perpetuity grant from the Crop Trust for the long-term conservation of the global collections of cassava and yam it holds on behalf of the international community.
  19. Papua New Guinea: The Crop Trust supported the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) to regenerate and characterize 165 yam accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops. 32 accessions are safety duplicated in the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)
  20. Philippines: The Crop Trust supported the National Plant Genetic Resources Laboratory (NPGRL) at the University of the Philippines Los Banos to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 739 yam accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops. It is also introducing 263 yam accessions from PhilRootCrops into tissue culture.
  21. Philippines: The Crop Trust provided support to PhilRootCrops, Visayas State University to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 238 yam accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.
  22. Togo: The Institut togolais de recherche agronomique (ITRA) received support from the Crop Trust to regenerate and characterize 234 yam accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops. 89 accessions are safety duplicated at the international Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
  23. Togo: The Institut Togolais de Recherche Agronomique (ITRA) received funding from the Crop Trust to survey 50 yam producing villages in Togo with the aim of gathering information for farmers and breeders to facilitate access to existing yam diversity. In addition, passport data of 1314 yam accessions from Togo held by IITA was also reviewed.
  24. Vanuatu: The Vanuatu Agricultural Research and Training Centre received support from the Crop Trust to regenerate and characterize 301 yam accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops. 19 accessions are safety duplicated at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
  25. Vietnam: The Vietnam Agricultural Sciences Institute regenerated and characterized 230 yam accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops. 43 accessions are safety duplicated in IITA.