In Uganda, yams are widely grown in wetlands. Wetlands cover about 11% of Uganda’s total land surface.
Currently, yams are widely grown within urban and peri-urban areas compared to rural areas. In Kampala, for example, they were initially grown in Bwaise, a city suburb.
This is why they are commonly also known as amayuuni ge Bwaise. They were later grown along the River Nsooba confluence, the Nakivubo Channel all the way to Luzira, along River Lubigi.
Outside Kampala, areas like Luwero, Kyenjojo, Nakaseke, Masaka, Mubende, Mityana, Kiboga, Hoima, Masindi, Teso and Wakiso are all known to produce yams in the river valleys that criss-cross those districts.
There is need to promote commercial yam production as this contributes a lot to food security and income-generation.
Guided production of yams in wetlands is one way of sustainable utilization of wetlands resources without compromising their eco-system.
Unguided use of wetlands can result in problems such as siltation of lakes and rivers and disruption of temperature and rainfall.
There is need for awareness and training of farmers on the effective utilization of wetland and management guidelines at all levels.
It is important to note that yams should not be grown in a waterway.
In 2007, a research carried out by the Makerere University Department of Botany found out that most of the yams grown around the swamps in the Kampala suburbs had industrial toxins in them.
The researchers attributed this to the rampant disposal of industrial waste in the swamps where the yams are grown.
It is, therefore, important that before planting yams in swamps around Kampala, one makes sure no industrial waste has been dumped in the swamp.
Nevertheless, yams can help fight poverty and food insecurity. The sector, however, faces a number of problems, among them limited access by farmers to training and extension services for yam production, and pests and diseases, which result in poor yields.
There is also a problem of limited access to improved varieties for better yields and lack of post-harvest handling skills.
Other factors include declining soil fertility, high risk of cancer among the population due to consumption of yams that are contaminated with heavy metals and limited funding to support research towards the advancement of cocoyam production.