The federal government has disclosed that Nigeria will start exporting yam to other countries before the year runs out, precisely by July 2017.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said Nigeria has remained one of the world’s largest producer of yam, which accounts for 61.7 per cent of the global production of the root crop.
According to the minister, Ghana seemed to control the African export market, even though the country could not produce as much yam as Niger, Ebonyi or any other yam producing state in Nigeria. Interestingly, yam consumed in the United States were imported from Ghana and a tuber of yam cost as high as $15.
However, he disclosed that Nigeria is by far the largest producer of yam, according to Food and Agriculture Organisation figures on the world’s yam production annually.
Nigeria has about 60 varieties of yam but unfortunately, it is not among the yam exporters and that is something of concern, Audu Ogbeh said.
This was disclosed on Thursday at the inaugural meeting of the Technical Committee on “Nigeria Yam Export’’ in Abuja. Audu Ogbeh disclosed that a technical working committee was inaugurated to fast track the exportation of yam by July 2017.
Audu Ogbeh said that a technical working committee was inaugurated to fast track the exportation of yam by July 2017, given that the Chinese government has demanded dry yam from Nigeria to meet its industrial and domestic needs.
While pointing out that the Nigerian yam export promotion programme was aimed at taking Nigerian yam production, processing, and marketing to next level in line with what is done in other countries, the Minister urged the working committee to ensure that Nigeria began exporting yam to the international market.
He assured that local production and consumption of the commodity would not be affected by the move to begin exporting yam soon, rather government would scale up intervention in yam production, as farmers in the country have indicated willingness to increase production to meet both local and international demands.
The Minister further disclosed that government would leverage on the high level of yam production which was already progressing at Zakibiam in Benue State, adding that further production would spread across the entire country.
Audu Ogbeh also emphasized the need to ensure that Nigerian agricultural produce meets the standard of foreign markets, and stressed the need for the country to design produce that would meet Nigerian health standards.
The Minister noted that the private sector driven committee was deliberate in other to guide the government on how to get a fair share of the global yam market.
In his remarks, Chairman of the Committee, Prof. Simon Irtwange, who is the National Chairman of Engineering Personnel and Citizens Civil Rights Development Initiative, said the committee members were carefully selected, based on the area of their professionalism, and has set up programmes to deliver their mandates.
Prof. Simon Tsange, mentioned that underground work has been carried out by the committee and that modalities were already on the ground to ensure that the Nigerian yam flourished in the global market.
Irtwange mentioned that they were going to leverage on the expertise of all the members of the committee, including the Yam Association of Nigeria.