The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said it is taking steps to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to resuscitate the exportation of yam from the country to boost national wealth creation, food security, amongst others.
In his remarks during the workshop with stakeholders in Abuja, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe said that the meeting aimed to resuscitate the nation’s consciousness on the export of yam for national wealth creation, increase income for farmers and create jobs. Also, he noted that the workshop was timely, seeing as Nigeria is diversifying its economy towards non-oil export commodities.
“Nigeria is the leading producer of fresh yams; yet, it is unfortunate to note that, despite the huge production, Nigeria is nowhere on the map of countries that export yams.
“If we must have sustainable food security for our teeming population of over 200 million Nigerian people and have enough to export to other countries, there is a need to critically examine the factors militating against quality production and export of our major commodities – yam is one of them,” he said.
Represented by the ministry’s director, department of agriculture, Engr. Abdullahi Abubakar, Umakhihe added that it is imperative to put Nigeria in the right position by considering its contribution to global production.
He further emphasised that, in 2020, Nigeria contributed 67 per cent [to global output] while Ghana had 10 per cent. However, Ghana has remained the second-highest world exporter of yam for over 10 years and the highest in West Africa, contributing 94 per cent to the annual export.
Umakhihe was optimistic that Nigeria can make six times Ghana’s contribution based on its production capacity.
He, therefore, stressed that to achieve the enormous task of repositioning yam as an export crop, deliberate action must be made to take yam production, processing and marketing to the next level in line with international best practices.
Abubakar, who was also represented by the ministry’s deputy director, nutrition division, Dr. Oyeleke Oshadiya, stated that yam, a variable crop was second to none in Nigeria.
He added that the workshop had provided an avenue for stakeholders in the sector to deliberate on the way forward, to boost the income and improve the standards of living of yam farmers to bring prosperity to all yam value chain players.
In his goodwill message, the national president, Yam Farmers and Marketers Association of Nigeria (YFMAN), Prof. Simon Irtwange commended the ministry for organising the workshop and hoped that it would become an annual event.
In a statement by the ministry’s director of information, signed by Mabel Obe, Irtwange highlighted some of the challenges the association faced, including funding, certification, among others.