The determinants of yam production in Southeastern Nigeria were investigated using a stochastic frontier production function, which incorporates a model of inefficiency effects. Farm-level data were collected from a sample of 120 yam farmers in Enugu State and used for the analysis. The results indicate that labour and material inputs are the major factors that infl uence changes in yam output. The effects of selected farmer-specific socio-economic characteristics on observed inefficiencies among the farmers were also examined. Farmer-specific variables, such as education, farming experience and access to credit, were the significant factors implicated for the observed variation inefficiency among yam producers.
The importance of yam as a crop in rural Southeastern Nigeria is more than its economic value. Considerable amount of ritualism has developed around the production and utilization of yam. The most important manifestation of this ritualism is in the new yam festival celebrated at the beginning of the harvest season. No other crop has taboo and festivity as yam. Yam is currently being exported from West Africa and Caribbean countries to Europe and North America where sizable population of yam consumers are found.
Evil forests abound and are considered the abode of dangerous spirits, of malignant deities, and of marauding ghosts of wicked persons who have recently died. Such forests have something uncanny and eerie about them, and are not cultivated for yam planting.
The stealing of yam is taboo in the entire Igboland. Digging up planted yam seedlings is an abomination against the yam deity and Ala, the Earth Goddess, on and from whose bowel the yam grows. Like digging up a buried relative, it is a crime that angers the gods.
A huge cock, several kola-nuts, kegs of dry gin and jars of palm-wine, alligator peppers and other small ritual items such as nzu, (white chalk) nchara,(yellow chalk) edo (red chalk) are gathered. The ritual master cuts one new yam tuber into four pieces, at the same time praying:Ji Ohuru nke afo a, anyi n’ egbuwa gi taa taNew Yam of this year, we are cutting you this dayAnyi n’ awa gi nga nno,We are slicing you into four pieces,Anyi ahula k’ i na acha ziri ziri.We have seen how whitish you are.Njoku nwe ji, gbara oso bia Njoku,the yam deity, run comeGozie ji a, mee k’otu ji muta ano,Bless this yam, may one tuber become fourN’oba onye obula n’ime anyi.In the barn of every one of us.Ndi-ichie lere nu ji ohuru, soro kwe nu rie.Ancestors, behold the new yam, share the eating with us.Haa! Amin!