Yam, a staple and ceremonial crop is intimately integrated into the socio-cultural, economic and religious customs of several West African communities. This study presents a qualitative investigation of the perception of food quality in yams by farmers. Food quality in the yam tuber is significant in determining its utilization (both at subsistence and industrial level) and acceptability of yam’s food products by farmers, processors and consumers to ensure sustainable food security. Focus group discussion (FGD) was used to collect data from farmers in two major yam-growing ecological zones of Nigeria namely: Federal Capital Territory (FCT- Abuja) and Oyo North in Oyo State. Results showed that farmers do not have definite food quality indicators in the yam tubers that can determine or predict the quality of the product. Indigenous knowledge such as pattern of leaf foliage, smoothness and shape of the tubers are used to identify species and varieties rather than for predicting food quality. Farmers’ perception of food quality in yams is mainly determined by the sustainable income derivable from cultivating particular species or varieties and also, on the sensorial quality of the yam product (textural quality). There is need for researchers to involve farmers in food quality studies as a form of holistic approach in achieving improved food quality.
Key words: Yam, food quality indicators, perception, culture, food security.
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