New Yams flood Onitsha markets

New Yams are beginning to flood markets in the commercial city of Onitsha.

The farmers from Anam, Anambra East Local Government Area (LGA) and towns in Ogbaru LGAs, brought their yam produce to the Marine Market, Onitsha to sell to members of the public.

They were seen offloading the tubers from their canoes that started arriving on July 31.

The yams were stacked in heaps and arranged in different sizes.

In spite of availability of the new yams, the old yams were still selling even at higher prices than the new ones.

This is largely because some people prefer to purchase the older tubers because they were believed to be more suitable for consumption.

A few diehard traditionalists believe they would have to follow rituals of yam festivities before eating of the new yams in line age-long cultural practices in Igboland.

“These are people are waiting for the new yam festivals of their various towns before eating of the new yams.’’

Mr Ikechukwu Nwokedi, a yam vendor, however, remarked that since coming of the new yams into the market, the prices of average old yam tubers have gone down by about 10 per cent.

While the old yams, which sold at N800, now sell at N700; the new yams now sell at between N300 and N600, depending on the size.

A Farmer, Mr Joseph Ibemenam, who was interviewed, said that yams from Anam had not grown well this year, noting that the challenges could be blamed on effects of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.

He lamented that they had just finished planting the yam seedlings when the pandemic came and the subsequent lockdowns disrupted after farming practices.

“We were not able to provide the fertilisers and the herbicides that ought to help to boost the crop yield,’’ Ibemenam said, adding, “the rain and sun did help in improving the yield.

Another Farmer, Mrs Ngozi Obeta from Ogbaru, who also came to sell her produce, said that their tubers did well this year because of the fertility of their land.

“you can see that tubers from Ogbaru performed better than those from Anam.’’

Rosemary Iwuoba from Anam, who vends yams, said that the price of yams were good for now, since it was still in the early days: “the farmers are still harvesting’’.

Mrs Uche Ononye, who is a buyer, said that the price of yam was better than it used to be: “it now more affordable now that the rainy season has brought with many food items; there has been a bumper harvest for farmers’’.

Other new produce that has arrived in the markets are groundnuts, potatoes, garden eggs and rice from Anam, many of which are stone-free.

Many young men were seen engaging in brisk businesses, by helping in transporting the produce for customers at a fee; making money to freely exchange hands.

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