Nigeria has witnessed an increase in the price of yam by 954 per cent, as the country experiences 739.4 per cent inflation over the span of 19 years.
In 2002, a single tuber of yam cost only around N150. It is now around N1000 to N1700. The further away from the capital, the more expensive it is.
“A lot of yam-sellers in Rivers state buy yam from the North and Middle Belt,” said Osi Kelvin, a yam seller in Port Harcourt.
In many Nigerian traditions, the plant is a symbol of wealth and power. However, the “king of crops” is now sold in slices for the poor who cannot afford to buy a whole tuber.
“This is to aid affordability, especially among the lower class who cannot afford a whole tuber,” Mr Kelvin continued.
The yam is the heart of the Nigerian diet. The versatility of yam allows it to be cooked in several different ways.
“You can boil, fry, or pound it. Yam can be processed to make yam flour, fried yam chips, yam balls, and even starch,” said food scientist Bushra Abdulmalik.
Yam also plays an important role in various cultures of the country. For example, The New Yam Festival is usually held every August by the Igbo to celebrate the harvest season, while for the Tiv of Benue State, it is also a key element of dowries.