African Journal of Agricultural Economics and Rural development ISSN: 2375-0693 Vol. 3(1), pp. 165-175, February, 2015. © International Scholars Journals

Full Length Research Paper

Food security from cultivated Dioscorea yams: Is that what subsistence farmers want?

Timothy Harris

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AE United Kingdom.

E-mail:, Telephone: (+44) (0)20 83323121

Accepted 06 February, 2015


Across Madagascar, wild endemic yam species are collected from open access areas and used as a food of last resort, at times when other crops fail. An alternative is to cultivate yams. A notable knowledge gap in using yam cultivation to enhance local food security is a paucity of data concerning demand for cultivated yams and whether people in the relevant communities prefer the wild yam species to the exotic cultivated yam species. Understanding these preferences contributes to addressing the issue of poor food security causing extinction pressure on specific native yams and helps to determine whether yam cultivation can reduce this. In this study, a revealed preference choice experiment approach found that subsistence farmers would rather obtain the cultivated but introduced species Dioscorea alata as a standby rather than the three wild species of yam that occur locally: D.kimiae, D.arcutinervis and D.seriflora. This study shows that a choice experiment can provide information about preferences in a subsistence setting and this study demonstrates how validity tests can be incorporated in to a choice experiment approach.

Key words: Dioscorea, Choice-experiment, Food-security, Madagascar, Ikongo, non-monetary, validity.