IITA yam breeding team visits yam processing company in Japan
The IITA yam improvement team consisting of Asrat Amele, Head of Yam Breeding, Patrick Adebola, Project Leader of AfricaYam, and Ryo Matsumoto, Yam Agronomist, visited the Maruko Foods yam processing factory in Japan together with IITA Director General Nteranya Sanginga and IITA Board Member, Dr Shuichi Asanuma, on 27 August. Also in the delegation were the Japanese collaborators, Dr Shiwachi and Dr Kikuno from Tokyo University of Agriculture (Tokyo NODAI) and Dr Muranaka from Japan International Research Center for Agriculture Sciences (JIRCAS).
Maruko Foods is a food processing company with the largest share (approx. 60%) of the production and sale of processed yam products, in Japan. The company is interested in processing and using African yams.
The partnership began in 2014, when Maruko Foods President visited IITA, with scientists from Tokyo NODAI, to seek collaboration in the areas of nutrient composition analysis and processed product development.
The preservation and processing of yam is an important strengthening point in yam production in West Africa. With this background, this visit was arranged.
Matsumoto, who had planned this visit, said “Japan has a long history of eating yam, such as D. opposita, known as Nagaimo or Chinese yam, as a nourishing vegetable. Although the species are different, yam yield in Japan is 18 t/ha while the average yield in West Africa is 9.0 t/ha). Yam processing has been carried out for a long time in Japan, and mechanized processing and quality control are performed today at a very high level.
I hope that the knowledge gained through collaboration with yam processing companies, such as Maruko Foods in Japan, will greatly contribute to the development of yam improvement in West Africa.”
At the end of the visit Sanginga said, “From the viewpoint of food safety in West Africa and increased income for small-scale farmers, it is very important to increase yam productivity and promote processing. Through this visit, I was able to draw a clear image of the yam processing business. Our visit was a great success and will enhance further collaboration between IITA and Maruko Foods for yam improvement.”