How to start a Profitable Yam farming business – 18 Step

yam farming

Yam farming is a common business globally. Yam farming is beyond money, it is a necessity for consumption, hence it’s importance in our daily lives. Yam farming is lucrative and sustainable. This article talks about the easy steps you should take to start a profitable yam farming business.

Yam is a common food among every tribe and region. It is consumed by all and can be used for porridge,
boiled, roasted, fried, flour production etc., The flour can be used in baking snacks such as chin chin,
meat pie. etc. Yearly, festivals and rituals are carried out in different parts of the region to mark the
arrival of the new yam. Apart from these festivals and rituals, there is huge profit in yam farming
Nigeria is the highest producer of yam in the world while Ghana is the highest exporter of yam in the
world. The States that produces yam in large commercial quantities in Nigeria are: Benue, Taraba, Niger,
Anambra, Cross River etc.


  1. Get a good location
  2. Prepare land for yam farming
  3. Prepare your sett for profitable yam farming
  4. Sprout your sett before planting
  5. Prepare your pre-sprouted setts for staggered planting
  6. Prepare your pre-sprouted setts for single planting
  7. Planting
  8. Replanting of dead setts
  9. Irrigation of the yam farming business
  10. Mulching
  11. Weeding
  12. Apply Fertilizers and Manure
  13. Control pests and diseases in the yam farming business
  14. Stake your plants
  15. Cover exposed tubers
  16. Harvesting of the yam tubers
  17. Storage of the yam produce
  18. Marketing of your yam farming business
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Picture credit: Christina Rumpf 

Getting a good location

Although, Yams prefer growing in an upland location, they should be planted in a well-drained field. Optimum yields are obtained from sandy loam and silt loam soil although acceptable yields are also obtained from clay loam soils, particularly those high in organic matter.

While some yams does relatively well on stony soil, it is however not advisable to plant yam on stony hard soil. Moreover, Forest lands in most tropical region offers ideal environment for growing yam both in soil quality and climate conditions.

Preparation of land

The bush should be cleared properly and the grasses burnt with fire at the appropriate time. Yam is best planted within the months of February and April when the rainy season is just beginning. These are the best periods for Yam farming. After, making heaps of loose soil of about one meter in height and one meters apart.

Ridged bed types are also good for yam planting. When the latter is used, the ridges should be constructed one meters apart. In the case of sloping or rolling fields, construction of ridges should follow the contour to minimize soil erosion. While making the ridges, it is important to remove any hard objects that could hinder the growth of the yam tuber.

Preparation of sett

The sett is prepared the yam is small in size plant it whole but cut the big size yams into smaller pieces because it will be a waste planting them whole. There are 4 types of sett; the head sett, middle sett, tail sett and whole sett. Cut the yam horizontally from head to tail into desired sizes it can be 5-8 cm in thickness.

Cut sides of the setts and cover surface with ash or with fungicide and air dry them. After air drying, setts are either pre-sprouted or planted directly Cut sides of the setts are treated with ash or with fungicide and air dried. After air drying, setts are either pre-sprouted or planted directly Prepare setts only when planting time is near.

Maybe a month to planting keep the setts in a cold place under trees such as plantain trees. The tubers chosen for yam farming should be disease free cultivar that were harvested 3-4 months before the next planting.

Sprouting of setts before planting:

This procedure assures the emergence of setts when planted and minimizes expenses on weeding before sett emergence. To pre-sprout a sett, a shallow ditch is dug in a clear shaded area under trees, under bananas, or under a shed constructed for the purpose.

Setts are placed side by side in the ditch and covered with dry grasses or dry banana leaves. In cases where no ditch is dug, the setts can be placed side by side on the ground instead. Setts are grouped according to type. For setts cut from large tubers, the planting is either skin up or crown sideways.

Setts can be covered with a thin layer of soil and are watered at least once a week until all the setts have produced sprouts. With sett pre-sprouting, it may be desired to introduce stagger planting and land preparation since setts do not sprout at the same time. In general, whole setts and head setts sprout ahead of other sett types. Planting pre-sprouted setts can, however, also be done at a time., The two forms of setts pre sprouting will be discussed below.

Preparation of pre-sprouted setts for staggered planting

To prevent sprouts from becoming too long, setts that have already sprouted are removed from the pre-sprouting seedbed and placed on a platform in a shady place. The process is repeated every week until the desired number of sprouted setts is obtained. The sprouted setts on the platform are not watered. Setts should be planted before sprouts
become very long. The same procedure is performed for setts intended for the second and succeeding planting.

Preparation of pre-sprouted setts for single planting:

The procedure followed in single planting is essentially the same as that used in preparing setts for staggered planting. The former is done only after most, if not all, setts have produced sprouts. By this time some sprouts which may have grown quite long should be trimmed before the setts are planted.


The general planting time for white yam is March to April, depending on the time the tuber dormancy is broken, as indicated by the sprouting of tubers under storage and upon start of rain in a particular area. This means that one have to start the pre-sprouting process well ahead of the planting time, at least for 3 weeks. The distance between the planted yam should be 1m x 1m and at a depth of about 10cm about 15 cm deep if the field will not be mulched.

Replanting of dead Yams:

After planting, within the duration of 2-3 weeks, restocking of dead tubers that didn’t germinate. Hybrid seedlings will guarantee 90-95% germination while traditional could be between 50-60%. During harvest you have to uproot all the yam vines at the same time. This is because the time of planting will not affect their production. Sometimes the tubers that are planted later produces large tubers than the earlier cultivated ones.


Yam is cultivated during raining season but when the rain stops coming, irrigation should be done on the farm three times a week especially during the dry season. Yam is cultivated during raining season but when the rain stops coming, irrigation should be made available on the farm at least three times in a week. Be careful not to over irrigate the yam plantation to avoid rot. Yam stands need adequate water to do well so, drip irrigation should be used for a large commercial yam farming.


Mulching is carried out in yam farming to retain water and to avoid too much loss of water especially during dry season. Mulch the heaps with compost; grasses or with leaves. Hot sun destroys yam seedlings by scorching them until they die this is the reason why mulching is necessary.


The number of times a yam farm needs to be weeded depends on the use of pre-sprouted setts, the application of mulch and the rate of weed growth. If non-pre-sprouted setts are used and the field is not mulched, two to three weeding operations are needed before the yam canopy covers the space between rows to partially suppress weed growth.

If pre-sprouted setts are used and the field is mulched, at most only two weeding performed about two months apart are needed. Hand tools are the highly recommended for this. Use of other methods such as animal powered ploughs are dangerous to the plants as the vines may get damaged in the process. Use of herbicides may be acceptable in some areas

Application of fertilizer and Manure

Apply manure every month or at every growing time in other to increase their production. Use manure that is low in Nitrogen because it can affect root development. Avoid chicken dung because it contains high level of nitrogen. Rather apply nutrients that are high in Phosphorus.

Control of pests and diseases of yam tubers

Common diseases that affects Yam includes: Yam mosaic: this is the yellowing of leaves or a light skin discoloration caused by aphids, mealy bugs which attract insects and reduce yam growth.

Dry rot: this causes lesions which are seen on the skin of the yam with yellow color from the early stage that later turns to a full blown black yam. If you notice this disease after harvest soak the yam in hot water for about an hour in other to reduce the effect.

Yam’s common pest includes: White scale insects

They slow yam growth by producing tiny white scales on yam skin. Other pests that attack yams are nematodes (root knot) Meloidogyne app. Scutellonema Brady’s. Insects are Cricket, Beetle (yam shoot, yam tuber).

Staking of the plants

Yam staking is very important because it will expose the vines to sufficient sunlight for optimum yield (tubers will be big). If you allow the vines to crawl on the ground the harvest will be poor. Plants are staked before vines start crawling on the ground. The recommended stake length is five to ten meters and a stake to every plant. Bamboo poles are the most desirable staking material, similar material that can support the yam vines for at least seven months can be used as stakes.

Use mature bamboo wood or any other hard wood cut from a perennial tree that cannot be attacked by termites or any other insects. Two sticks of 2m each should be used to stake. Use mature bamboo wood or any other hard wood cut from a perennial tree that cannot be attacked by termites or any other insects. Two sticks of 2m each should be used to stake.

Coverage of exposed tubers

As Yam tubers elongate rapidly towards the end of the growing period of the plants, some tubers tend to heave, thereby causing them to be exposed to the sun. Heavy rains also expose the tubers. Exposed tubers should be covered with soil to prevent them from greening. Greening could make it to become inedible in some cases.

Harvesting of your yam tubers

Yam matures between 5-7 months but yam is ready for harvest when the leaves turns yellowish to brownish and start dying. No need to wait for the vines to die before harvesting. When the soil is too hard, yam harvesting will be difficult. That is why you should use loosed soil in yam farming.

A spade should be used to dig around the portion of the soil a little distance away from where yam is standing. Be careful not to injure the tubers. To be on the safe side you can dig out the yam tuber with sand to prevent breakage of the yam. Remove soil gently until you get to the point where the yam ends, bring out the yam from the soil.

Storage of your yam produce

To preserve yam for the next planting season, Yams can be kept in barns away from sun or heat. Ashes should be rubbed on the broken part, you can yank the head of yam off and the head can be cut off, likewise rubbing ashes on it to preserve it for a longer period of time.

Marketing of your yam farming business

Marketing of yam is not difficult because it has a ready market. It can be stored until harvest time has passed off, then sold later to acquire more money. In all, adding value to a produce would yield greater profit. One can process the yam to flour or export them whole to international markets.

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