Yam is an important food and income source for 60 million producers, processors, marketers, transporters, traders, and consumers in West Africa. In the region, yams have high cultural value. They are used in fertility and marriage ceremonies, and a festival is held annually to celebrate its harvest. Consumer demand for yam is generally very high in this sub-region and yam cultivation is very profitable despite high production costs. However, productivity per hectare has remained stagnant or is declining. Since 2000, the rate of annual increase in yam production has been slowing in growth (e.g., < 1% per year increase in Nigeria).

Prior to the implementation of the Yam Improvement For Income And Food Security In West Africa (YIIFSWA), studies indicated that by addressing the scarcity of high quality seed tubers, postharvest losses, pest and diseases and low soil fertility, farmers’ yield can be boosted from 10.7 t/ha to at least 22t/ha.

YIIFSWA through concerted research, partnerships and capacity building seeks to increase yam productivity (yield and net output) by 40% for 200,000 small‐holder yam farmers (90% with less than 2 acres) in Ghana and Nigeria; and deliver key global good research products that will contribute to the longer term vision of improving yam productivity and livelihoods of yam dependent farmers. YIIFSWA is a project led by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in collaboration several National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs), Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) and private institutions .

YIIFSWA’s project focused on seven key components: seed systems, pest, virus and diseases, markets, Farmer empowerment, post-harvest and farming systems. YIIFSWA objects are:
 

  •  Strengthen small‐scale farmer and trader market linkages, particularly in less accessible production areas, to realize benefits from increased ware yam productivity and market demand.
  •  Strengthen capacities and empower smallholder farmers in the yam value chain.
  • Establish sustainable availability of high quality seed yam on a commercially viable (price competitive) basis in targeted areas.
  • Reduce post‐harvest losses and improve product quality.
  • Develop technologies for high ratio propagation of high quality breeder and foundation seed yam.
  • Evaluate and scale out yam production technologies with improved and local popular varieties.
  • Identify more effective prevention and management tools and strategies for pests and diseases.

In 2015 YIIFSWA project was restructured based on the recommendation of the Donor’s program management. Restructuring resulted in reorganization of former objectives into two components, without altering the goals, activities, outputs and outcomes. The projects two component are:
 

Component A: Governance, leadership, and partnership

  • A1- Project Governance and Leadership
  • A2- Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning and Database management,
  • A3- Communication and information dissemination
  • A4- Outscaling of production technologies (previously objective 6)

Component B: Seed systems

  • B1- Establish sustainable availability of high quality seed (previously objective 3)
  • B2- Reduce postharvest losses on-farm and during marketing (previously objective 4)
  • B3- Develop technologies for high ratio propagation (previously objective 5)
  • B4- Identify and disseminate more effective tools and strategies for prevention and management of pests (previously objective 7)