September 27, 2023


YAM is an indigenous and very lucrative crop that has been hidden for a long time from the Zambian farmers by the whites due to its amazing beneficial contents. It is referred to as an orphan crop but the locals in Western province call it Ndonga meaning an injection.

Michael Mwandila, Yam Orange Zambia Director, a Mechanical engineer by profession and a researcher is also the national coordinator for Yam cultivation in Zambia.

Mr. Mwandila indicated that his organization is complementing government’s efforts of bringing crop diversification into reality by encouraging small scale farmers to venture into Yam production.

He said the organization empowers small-scale farmers by equipping them with adequate knowledge on organic Yam cultivation in the two-day training sessions that Yam Orange Zambia conducts at their premises.

Mr. Mwandila disclosed that the focus is much on equipping the small-scale farmers with knowledge on organic Yam cultivation so that they can be liberated from many challenges that they undergo in their farming activities such as over dependency on government’s subsidized farming inputs under the program called Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP).    

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“We’re helping the government with crop diversification. when the politicians spoke about crop diversification, they did not mean just Yams. We’re coming from the private sector to help this country because our friends have benefited from these crops,” he noted.

He added that Yam is a drought resistant crop that is able to withstand any harsh climatic conditions be it more or less water. Furthermore, this type of crop can be grown in almost all the regions of Zambia regardless of the soil type.

Mr. Mwandila is urging the small-scale farmers to seriously consider diverting into Yam production because of the high lucrative aspect and its health benefits.  

“The farmers should venture into Yam cultivation more especially the youths because Yam is able to create more employment than any other sector. You can also prepare Nshima from Yam using the actual tuber.  That tuber must be boiled for about 25 minutes then you make Nshima that is good for all ages. This type of food is very nutritious because it does not pass through any machine. This is the famous Fufu,” he explained.  

He disclosed that there are Yam farmers in each province growing the crop and over 5,000 people have shown interest by registering  to participate in Yam production during the just ended 95thAgricultural and Commercial show in Lusaka.

Yam is a very lucrative crop that is currently fetching K15/Kg and those (Yam) that come from Tanzania, India and Nigeria can fetch as high as K25/Kg at COMESA market here in Lusaka while in Shoprite Manda Hill and other chain stores imported Yams are sold at K60/Kg.

Mr. Mwandila said there is a yawning market for Yams in the neighbouring countries where the demand is pretty high and small-scale farmers must take advantage of this opening.

“South Africa has got about 17 million Yam consumers and they want to buy Yams. Yams that are consumed in South Africa come from Nigeria, Ghana and India. That’s a huge market what more with Katanga region having14 million consumers,” he explained.

And a former maize farmer who at some point tried tomatoes and even onions but did not make good proceeds decided to invest in Yam cultivation.  

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He confessed that Zambians will perpetually been slaved if they continue growing less-lucrative crops such as maize. Its high time that these small-scale farmers turn or switch to profitable and high value crops such as Yams.

Mandala Khondowe is a Yam farmer in Serenje, who has been cultivating this crop for the past two years. He said the interest into Yam cultivation dawned on him upon realization that this crop can be cultivated without using chemical fertilizers but can be grown organically.

“I wanted a crop that I would be in charge of in termsof seed. I realized that when you begin to grow Yams, you’re in control of your own seed. What it means is that you don’t need to go to the seed company time and again. The tuber that you harvest will give you seed for the next season. You become free from the person who buys seed every time,” explained Pastor Khondowe.

The clergy indicated that the Yams can give good money as compared to other crops such as maize.      

Pastor Khondowe noted that Yam is a game changer when it comes to food security at a point of dynamism in climate change and the dependency on government by small scale farmers in accessing subsidized fertilizer under FISP.

“When you’re growing Yams its very good for food security because it’s a tuber and tubers in most cases, they provide their own strength. They’re brave to harsh climatic conditions   and can be harvested twice in one planting season. So, it can provide enough food for the nation as well as for export,” explained Pastor Khondowe.    

Yam is a very high value crop with 20% vitamin C that the human body requires and it also contains B complex. These vitamins promote anti-aging. Yam products that Yam Orange Zambia manufactures  include green tea from Yam leaves, Yam soup, Yam scones, Yam Maheau as well as Yam vegetables from the leaves.

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