Traditionally wild yam grows in the wild in soft volcanic soil and even in hard, rocky soil.
Now with the disastrous impact of climate change and regular cyclones devastating the islands and Provinces, Director of Agriculture and Rural Development, Antoine Ravo, has confirmed the department is working with Penama Agricultural Extension Officer, Joel Kalnpel, to promote farming wild yam on Pentecost, Ambae and Maewo during Penama Yam Festival this week, as a domesticated crop to cater for food security for tomorrow.
The unique advantage of wild yam as a root crop is that any cyclone cannot affect the tubers which are safe underground, even if category five winds tear the vines to shreds. The tough long roots of the trunk protect it from being uprooted, which in turn keep the tubers protected in the soil.
But for the people of Malampa Province where Kalnpel comes from, farming wild yam is an ancient practice.
In Unua in south east Malekula for instance, wild yam is planted outside the house and children have to be careful to make sure their limbs do not get caught among the thorns on the vines as they risk being injured.
A mother from Unua who lives in Port Vila boasts how she has made unexpected income by harvesting her wild yam on her lawn for the first time after almost five years of maturity.
“When the vines became dry I knew it was time to dig the sizable mound that I had fed with kitchen peeling all this time," she says with a smile.
She could not believe her luck when she removed sizable tubers from her first dig.
“I made some laplap with chicken wings and took it to market and sold each peace for Vt250.
"I was impressed that my customers wanted more so I kept the recipe going until I had to stop to allow the trunk to start growing again," she adds.
Another advantage of wild yam is that you can only harvest as much as you want to prepare for a meal and leave the rest to stay fresh in the soil until such time you want to make another harvest.
Now the Director of Department of Agriculture and Rural Development who is already at Saratamata on East Ambae, has confirmed preparations are progressing well for the yam festival to be launched by the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forests, Fisheries and Biosecurity, Matai Seremaiah, this week.