Yam Store groundbreaking in Ogwuyo to transform regional market

4 Dec

A rendering explaining the innovative features of the new Yam Store

Workers finishing the foundation trenches for the Yam Store

Workers finishing the foundation trenches for the Yam Store

This week our newest project, the Anam Yam Store broke ground in the Ogwuyo neighborhood of Anam City.  We are excited to begin this project as it marks a significant advance in the region towards solving the problem of agricultural food preservation.  As we have discussed before on this blog, many local farmers and tradesmen are unable to maximize their income because of the short storage life of the yam after harvest; since all farmers in the region are forced to sell their yams at the same time of year, prices are held down.  There are few innovations to solve this problem, aside from costly refrigeration or chemical treatment, and no facilities yet exist in the region.  The Anam Yam store building was designed use passive strategies to keep the yams at a low temperature and facilitate the movement of air around the produce:  the walls are open at the top to optimize ventilation and there are vent-holes (with rodent and insect-proof screens) to introduce cool air and induce convective cooling.  Shelving and hangings systems will keep yams off the floor and maximize accessibility and inspectability- in this way traditional and modern storage techniques can be hybridized, tested and compared with each other.  The metal roof is on a truss structure that also supports a thatch ceiling – the upper layer provides shade, while the thatch intercepts heat radiated from the metal above; the large space between helps to induce airflow and disperse heat away from the interior.

By holding the yams for longer, we will create an agricultural futures market, whereby produce can be sold during an off-season when prices are highest.  The income from this venture can be reinvested into the project and community, as well as helping to raise the standard of living of the farmers.  The long term goal is for individual farmers to ‘bank’ their yams in a cooperative store so that they can have a greater benefit from their hard labour.   This project is the first of several agricultural storage and processing facilities that are planned for Ogwuyo and Anam City as a whole.

In just a few weeks the structure will be be complete and ready to receive the first yams!

A traditional Igbo method for storing yams

A traditional Igbo method for storing yams in an Oba