Posted by: orijemie5 | November 12, 2016

The Yam Beetle: Vilified by Farmers, Valued by Archaeobotanists Orijemie, Emuobosa Akpo

I am the Yam Beetle (Heteroligus meles); I come from the proud family of Coleoptera;We came into existence in the Permian*, light years before humans were conceived;My relatives, the bee and butterfly, and I pollinate over 80% of plants worldwide;Our activities guarantee the reproduction of plants and ensure food security;Yet I am vilified by farmers, accused of causing major damage to yams in Nigeria.Lazy farmers, whose efforts yield predictably poor harvests, blame me for their misfortunes.

Yam beetles recovered from archaeological excavations in Ushongo Tivland, Nigeria

I am the Yam Beetle; African farmers hate me with passion, but their claims are often exaggerated;My underground activities in arable lands may contribute to what they describe as yam rot;Nevertheless, it is a joint venture with soil microbes, worms, nematodes, fungi and termites; Why single out beetles? Is this not injustice?

However, it is not my fault; the Tiv man had boasted that ‘Yams were the king of all foods’; Were we to believe him without investigating? How else were we to know if we did not have a taste? After all, we did not invent the saying: ‘the tasting of the pudding is in the eating’

Unlike my poor unambitious cousin the Dung Beetle, Scarabaeus sacer, who clears poop, Yet suffers the same fate as myself; I am ambitious and have always been. In their hate and haste, farmers use pesticides attempting to annihilate my generation; Ignorantly, they fill their fields with immeasurable amounts of toxins;The outcome is inevitable: polluted soils, poorer harvests and health challenges;Yet they continue to heap the outcome of their misfortune on me!

I am the yam beetle; is there no good in me, am I as vicious as the farmers claim? Archaeobotanists do appreciate my nobility and acknowledge my usefulness; The remains of my little ones recovered from archaeological contexts provide reliable evidence; Evidence of yam cultivation, an exercise that had long eluded Archaeologists

I seek more collaboration with Archaeobotanists but with farmers, I want no part; Except to continue tasting their yams, an exercise Archaeobotanists need to validate their thesis

*The Permian is a Geologic period dated to 280 million years before the present time


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