|dcterms.description||Africa is responsible for 96% of the world's production of food yams; producing almost 30 millions tons a year. Most of the remainder is produced in the Caribbean and Pacific. For 150 million people, yam is, together with cassava and potato, a food staple. In the last thirteen years, production has risen by 17% ? to the considerable surprise of those involved in yam research. It had appeared that yam cultivation could not be increased, because the traditional methods employed were believed to be resistant to change, and because it requires much water. The increased production is a response to growing demands from urban consumers. The farmers of the main producer countries (Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo) have changed their cultivation techniques, and switched their selection of varieties to meet demand for a specific yam product, often known as the 'podlet'. This is made by smashing a small yam into pieces. The pieces are dried in the sun and become powdery. The 'podlet' is light and easy to transport, and sells for less than fresh yam. It takes just a small blow to break it up and obtain flour, from which a couscous and biscuits, or, better still, amala may be prepared. Noticeably different from traditional household foufou, amala is leading to the emergence of a much appreciated form of street food in Togo, Nigeria and Benin.
Despite its known nutritional value and pharmaceutical properties, yam has not yet been adopted for large-scale treatment in the food processing and agro-pharmaceutical industry. For the last fifteen years, some industrial companies have started to produce a yam conserve and some processed items (crisps, chips, flour and flakes). Many such initiatives have become entangled in the classical problems of transportation and conservation of fresh tubers, and have not gone beyond the experimental phase or pilot processing plant. The export share of yam has fallen to 0.2% of its production.
Nevertheless, yam has a good future. Important pharmaceutical properties based on diosgenin and related molecules have been long recognised in wild yam. In its cultivated form, it is particularly rich in starch, mineral salts, proteins and vitamins, giving it a nutritional value comparable to cereals. Notwithstanding it's usefulness, there are still many technological barriers to be overcome before the full potential of this tuber can be exploited.
The Yam. A tropical root crop.
By L Degras, CTA/MacMillan 1993, CTA number 524, ISBN 0-333-57456-7, 40 credit points.||en_US