Tuesday, September 21, 2010


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Much attention has been given to the development, cultivation and processing of cassava in Nigeria as oppose to the lack of coordinated effort towards the development, cultivation and processing of yam, another root crop like therefore leaving most of the harvested crop to be wasted and a great investment opportunity to be tapped by savvy investors especially in the processing of yam to yield yam flour used in the preparation of pounded yam.

Yam is the common name for some species in the genus Dioscorea (family Dioscoreaceae). These are perennial herbaceous vines cultivated for the consumption of their starchy tubers in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania. There are many cultivars of yam though only six are important as staples in the tropics. The economically important species grown are Dioscorea rotundata (white yam), Dioscorea alata (yellow yam), Dioscorea bulbifera (aerial yam), Dioscorea esculenta (Chinese yam) and Dioscorea dumenterum (trifoliate yam).

Yams are high in vitamin C, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese; while being low in saturated fat and sodium. Vitamin C, dietary fiber and vitamin B6 may all promote good health. Furthermore, a product that is high in potassium and low in sodium is likely to produce a good potassium-sodium balance in the human body, and so protect against osteoporosis and heart disease.

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%, equalling more than 37 million tons. Though yams can be stored up to six months without refrigeration most of the yearly production is lost through spoilage because is lack is post harvest facility in the country.

In Nigeria , Though yams can be consumed by boiling, roasting and processed to yield Amala (especially in South western part of the country) ,the kernel of this article would focus more it use in the processing and production of instant yam flour.

Due to the increasing number of middle class family and the rise in health consciousness amongst the populace, traditional ways of processing pounded yam in Nigeria is fast becoming a thing of the past as more and more family are shifting from the use of piston and mortars to ready processed yam to be used for pounded yam production, in order to reflect there new found status.

The production process of producing instant yam flour is quite simple; it involves slicing, parboiling and milling of the product to yield flour. The machinery and equipment required to production can be sourced locally though the promoter can also source the machine from abroad.
The production process is highlighted below.

1. Slicing Machine: This cuts the yam into thin regular slices to be collected in a bath of water in order to prevent discolouration. Then the sliced product is taken to the par boiler.

2. Par boiler: This is used to parboil yam. Water is introduced into the par boiler tank and then headed up by means of a gas burner. At boiling point, the tray cabinet is gradually lowered into the par boiler tank, which has generated steam to cook the yam to specification. A thermometer and a pressure gauge are attached to regulate the condition inside the par boiler. After which the product is taken to the hammer miller.

3. Hammer Mill: this is used to mill dried yam chips. It is a micro-unit sieve and cyclone that is capable of producing good flour from the chips.

The product is then packaged ready to the sold in the market.

Other requirement to consider apart from the cost of the machinery is the cost of accommodation, operating cost and project vehicle. The project is a rewarding and lucrative venture and the payback period is about 18 months.

A number of incentives have been put together to encourage investment in agriculture. These include;

o Finance Credit
o Tax Holdings
o Reduced Customs Charges on Imported Inputs
o Technical Support through Research Institutions
o Export Financing and Guarantee
o Agricultural Insurance Scheme
o Extension Services

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