By Omolola Pedro
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has disclosed that it has embarked on “genetic diversity” land race for the African yam-bean (AYB) crop with over 40 varieties, in a bid to improve soil fertility and achieve food security. A Genetic Professor and Principal Investigator for African Yam-Bean, IITA, Morufat Balogun, made this known in Kano, FarmingFarmersFarms reports. According to Balogun, the reintroduced crop with 40 varieties, has the ability to produce bean and tuber, rich in protein and calories that is needed for human growth and development.
She added that the crop also has the capacity to withstand climatic changes after showing prospects in areas with less rainfall, as research had shown. Balogun described African Yam-Bean as a high nutritional packed crop abandoned due to introduction of quick maturing crops. “African yam-bean is an indigenous crop. It is a legume, traditionally held in high importance, especially in South West, Nigeria. Taking African yam-bean secures the health and nutrition of the family because it contains more than 30 per cent of protein, higher than other plants and crops”, she said.
Speaking further, Balogun said that the reintroduced crop also had the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen. “All crops usually require nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and some micro-nutrients for them to grow well in the soil. This crop is able to fix the nitrogen in the air and convert it to what is needed in the soil; that means, it will reduce the use of synthetic fertilisers and bring farmers more profit by spending less on fertilisers. It has been forgotten due to national and international support as well as funding for crops like cowpea and soybean”, Balogun said, adding that the rebirth of the crop would lead to better environmental preservation, which would eventually lead to higher food security with its better options for nutrients acquisition.