THE Chinese government has demanded dry yam from Nigeria to meet industrial and domestic needs. This was disclosed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Thursday, in Abuja, which a technical working committee was inaugurated to fast track the exportation of yam by July 2017.
The Minister 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 rot crop, while there are over 60 varieties of yam, but sadly, Nigeria not among yam exporting countries.
He assured that local production and consumption of the commodity would not be affected by the move to export 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.
He noted that high level of yam production was going on in Zakibiam in Benue State, the Minister said government would leverage on it and also spread production across the entire country.
However, he lamented Ghana, which produces far less than any yam producing state in Nigeria, has taken over the European market. According to him yam consumed in the United States were imported from Ghana and a tuber of yam cost as high as $15. He said: “Ghana is controlling Africa’s yam export market where Nigeria is one of the world’s largest producers. I am not sure if Ghana produces as much yam as any state of the federation”.
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. He noted 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 country.
He also emphasised the need to ensure that Nigerian agricultural produce meet the standard of foreign markets, and stressed the need for the country to design produce that would meet Nigerian health standard.
The minister tasked the committee to develop a framework for establishment of Nigeria yam export sea and airport where all documentation relating to the export are prepared, adding that they should facilitate acquisition warehouses at the receiving destination, rationalize the bureaucracy of export and enforcement agency located within one roof designated for Nigeria yam export park houses.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Committee, Prof Simon Tsange, said they have been doing underground work on the programme adding that the committee would ensure that in six months’ time, Nigerian yam would hit the international market.