The yam breeding activities at IITA Abuja station involves hybridization to generate variability, seedling and tuber progeny generation at the screen house and in the field to select superior plants with trait of interest. It also involves cloning of selected plants and confirming their observed phenotypic trait superiority over standard and local checks in a replicated multi-location and multi-year evaluation trials. Other activities involve the establishment of seed lot to generate quality and uniform planting materials of the genotypes under different stage of breeding trials.
In 2017, the AfricaYam Crossing Blocks at Abuja was targeted at two species of yam, D. rotundata and Dioscorea alata, with the aim of developing new varieties and population for genetic study. The male and female crossing blocks of both species were planted in an isolation of about 1 kilometer apart to avoid open and unwanted pollination. Pollens are then collected from the male crossing blocks and transferred to the female crossing blocks for targeted hand pollination.
The true (botanical) seeds from the crossing blocks are planted in a screen house to generate seedlings which are then taken to the field for further evaluation and selection process to generate new series of improved varieties.