Traditionally farmers cultivate elephant foot yam using setts of 750-1000 gm size as planting material. For producing such setts, the central bud of the seed tubers is scooped out using a sharp knife. This promotes the development of dormant axillary buds. Just before planting, the tubers are cut into setts of 750-1000 gm, keeping one bud in each sett. Since there is no control mechanism for ensuring sprouting of buds at uniform distance on the tubers, farmers cut the setts according to the position of the buds and this leads to non-uniform setts of varying weights. When the yams are finally harvested, they’re of varying sizes and are often huge. This is usually not desirable for the end consumers (small families) whose requirements are much smaller. For this reason the grocery store vendors resort to cutting the whole yams and selling the slices. This compromises on the hygiene of the product and also creates wastage as the exposed parts dry up faster.
Our agricultural officer Mrs Shanida Beevi came across an innovative technology called “minisetts” for the propagation of Elephant foot yam which overcomes the shortcomings of the traditional method during a training at KVK (Krishi Vigyan Kendra). When she introduced it to us, we at Parackattu farm decided to apply the technique for our elephant foot yam cultivation and we have found it to be extremely successful.
During the month of January, we half split the tubers into as many setts as can be (roughly 100 to 200 grams) obtained from the yam. This was done by passing the knife used for central bud removal, half way through the yam central region where dormant buds are present. For example, a yam of 2 kg size was half split into 14 setts as opposed to 2 or 3 setts (for a 2 kg yam) using the traditional method. Some of these setts weighed only 100 grams. After allowing the cuts to air dry for 2 hours, fresh cow dung was applied there and the yams were kept overturned for fostering bud development. By February-March, buds sprouted in each of the setts. On the day of planting, setts were finally separated from each other by cutting out the half split slices. After air drying the cut wounds, the setts were treated with cow dung slurry and planted in the main field with the central bud portion facing up with a spacing of 60 cm x 45 cm. This yielded production of small yams weighing 1-3 kg suitable for small families and was widely accepted by our clients. By adopting minisett technique the multiplication ratio in elephant foot yam could be enhanced to 1:15 as opposed to 1:3 from the conventional method.
This Mini sett technique can be applied to other tubers like Colocassia, Lesser yam, Greater yam etc., and the same principle can also be extended to tapioca planting.