Yam barn is called “Oba Ji” in Igbo language.
Farmers generally favor this method of preservation since it is seen as the safest approach to protect their yam crop from insect assault and rotting caused by unsanitary earth temperatures. Improved storage offers increased subsistence security for farmers. At the same time, he has more flexibility in selling decisions and is better equipped to capitalize on market swings to increase his income. Farmers (commercial/subsistence) in the West African region have embraced this strategy for yam safety over the years, and have found this method beneficial for yam preservation. The yam barn technique of preservation, on the other hand, is regarded as a fairly tough and demanding method of preserving produce by subsistence farmers.
However, subsistence farmers regard the yam barn method of preservation as a somewhat difficult and stressful method to apply in keeping the produce safe, but they have also discovered that there is no better or less stressful way to save-keep their yam produce until the next planting season or sales than the barn system.
Yam cultivation is common in Eastern Nigeria, as it is in Northern Nigeria. During the rainy season, it is a profitable agricultural business.
The simplest and least priced West African yam barns are built using only three (3) basic items:
1. Life sticks, which can easily germinate and provide shade for the tied yams in the event of excessive sunlight.
2. Bamboos – where yams are placed horizontally before being bound serially and upwardly during the preservation process.
3. Ropes – for securely connecting life sticks and bamboos.
THE IMPACT OF THE “BARN” PRESERVING SYSTEM
The three main significances of yam-barns are as follows:
1. To keep yams safe from ground insect pests and bugs, which are prone to attacking the produce when left on the ground or stored carelessly.
2. To prevent yam rotting due to an unhealthy temperature when arranged on the ground.
3. To keep yams from germinating too easily, especially if they are on the ground before the next planting period or before they are sold in the market.