Yam Export Can Fetch $8 billion Annually For Nigeria

Yam Export Can Fetch $8 billion Annually For Nigeria

Nigeria accounts for 61% of the world’s yam production, but farmers in the country are not yet earning income from its export, while countries with far less production capacity are exporting and earning billions of dollars annually.

The Federal Government is aware of this development, according to the country’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, and there are steps being taken to change the trend for the better. He confirmed that with the new strategy being emplaced, Nigeria will be targeting about $8 billion as annual foreign exchange from the exportation of yams.

According to him, Ghana is exporting yams but Nigeria is not, yet Nigeria accounts for 61 per cent of the world yam production. “I saw the figures of Ghana’s earning from yam export and their targets for the future and it was quite impressive. If Ghana can aim at a few billion dollars a year from yams, there is no reason why Nigeria cannot quadruple that.”

One of the ideas the minister put forward to improve the situation was mechanization of heap making for planting of yams.  “I want us to begin to engage engineers anywhere in the world. Can we design a plough that can make the yam heap? We have to mechanise heap making otherwise, in the next five years, because of our aging farmers, you will find out that we do not have yams again and we will get into fresh troubles,” he said.

Already, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, is training farmers to adopt better farming techniques and also improve some yam varieties. There are also international standards to be met in terms of sanitary requirements and they have to do with pytho-sanitary requirements which we have to create awareness about.

A committee set up by the federal government to facilitate export of yams, The Technical Committee on Nigerian Yam Export Programme, said through its Chairman, Mr. Simon Irtwange, that it is working at combining the standards of Ghana and Nigeria to make sure our yams are not rejected at the international markets.

Elizabeth Nwankwo, a yam exporter, representing Oklan Best Limited, listed some challenges experienced by exporters to include: inadequate transportation and lack of quality seedlings. She explained that inadequate storage facilities also contributed to the rejection of the country’s agricultural produce at the international markets. Ms. Nwankwo expressed optimism that there would be zero rejection of the country’s agricultural produce, if the challenges were tackled.

It is important to sensitise farmers about how lucrative yam export is and to give both farmers and others in the value chain information on required international standards of yam before processing to export.

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