By S. Olanrewaju Disu.
The coco-yam is the edible root-tuber of the coco-yam plant. The coco-yam plant is a stout herbaceous plant with a whorl of erect leaves. The plant flourishes in damp forest sites as well as urban orchards. It is cultivated all over southern Nigeria. The coco-yam has numerous varieties, differing in shape, size, colour of the flesh of the tuber, food value, etc., and in cultural needs. It is an 8 – 18 months crop, requiring constant humidity and a high rainfall. Also, it is tolerant of poor drainage.
In Lagos Area, coco-yam is not usually available in all markets. Big markets, e.g., the “Ikotun Market” and the “Mushin Market” as well as weekly markets, e.g., the Weekly Farmers Market at Sabo, Ikorodu, sell coco-yams. However, coco-yams could be purchased all-year round. This is because improved strains of the product flood the market when they are in season. Moreover, coco-yams do not spoil quickly like yam-tubers.
Indigenes of the state call the product “koko”. Botanically, coco-yam is called “Colocasia esculenta, Family Araceae”.
There are several food values of the coco-yam. Different ethnic groups in the state use the product for variety of meals. Some cook it as high quality meal – e.g., porridge with good food seasonings and dried fish or meat. Some make coco-yam into “foo-foo”, and a particular ethnic group from a neighbouring state to Lagos State use it to make a special delicacy called “ebiripo”.
On the commercial side, there are several local food-sellers who set up fry-ing units at city-junctions and roadsides, selling fried coco-yams. We also have more sophisticated caterers making coco-yam chips for sale to the populace. On the medical side, it is locally alledged that eating of coco-yam as a carbohydrate source leads to a marked reduction in dental caries. A good agricultural product, indeed!
Freshly harvested coco-yams on sale at the “Mushin Market”.