|Primary School Agriculture Volume II: Background Information (GTZ, 1985, 190 p.)|
|Part III: Crop storage|
|10. Tuber preservation|
There are so many different types of tuber stores which are used locally throughout Africa that to talk about them all would be impossible. Here are three methods which are fairly common. Most other stores use the same principles.
a) The Yam Bam
This store is a small simple building with a thatched roof: zinc roofs are sometimes too hot. The walls can be of any construction: wood plank, bamboo, etc. Mud blocks or mud packed walls are preferred because they keep the inside of the barn much cooler. The floor should be raised off the ground about 30 cm. This allows air to pass all through the barn. The floor can be made of bamboo or wood.
There should be small spaces in the walls or under the eaves to let the air pass freely through the barn. Tubers are generally spread evenly on the floor. Make certain that the barn is filled carefully so that the tubers are not damaged.
An improved method using the same store is to build bamboo racks or shelves along the walls of the store. The tubers are then placed on the racks. The racks or shelves should be constructed at 60 cm (2 feet) intervals along the side of each wall. This way each wall would have about four racks attached to it, all spaced 60 cm from each other.
Yams, cocoyams, and potatoes would store well in this manner. The tubers would not be piled up on top of each other. They would not be touching each other. Disease could not spread. The room is cool and dry and the sun cannot enter. Furthermore, air can pass all around the tubers to keep them cool. The tubers can be easily inspected for insect or disease problems as they are not piled on top of each other. The barn can be locked at night to discourage thieves.
b) Clamps or Tuber Pits
This method is used mostly for potatoes. It does not seem to be as successful with yams.
A shallow hole is dug in a shady, cool place. The hole is then lined with sand. Grass, leaves, and sticks are then packed over the sand. The tubers are then carefully placed in the hole and covered with ashes or sand. Grass and banana leaves are then placed over the filled pit. A small sun/rain shelter of bamboo and thatch is built over the clamp. One must make certain that the drainage is good so that water does not fill the pit and spoil the tubers.
This method keeps the tubers cool, dry, and dark. However, there is no ventilation. If heating takes place the heat cannot escape. Instead it will build up inside the pit and could cause spoilage. It is also difficult to inspect the tubers for storage problems. Termites could bother the pit if they are a problem in your area. The wood ashes sometimes discourage them.
c) Box or Basket Storage
Tubers, especially the potato, can be gently packed into baskets or boxes and then stored in a cool, dry place in the house. Sometimes it is good to pack the tubers with wood shavings, sand, or wood ashes. This not only cushions the tubers, but it also stops the spread of fungus diseases.
Make certain that the box has a few holes in it so that air can circulate. A basket should have a loose weave. The major difficulty is that the tubers cannot be easily inspected. The area is small, not too many tubers can fit into a box or basket.