By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has pledged support for yam producers, saying the country is pushing to become the number one exporter of the commodity in the world. He made the allusion recently at the end of the meeting with the technical committee on Nigerian Yam Export Programme.
The minister had said “beginning from next week, Nigeria will export 72 metric tonnes of yam to the United Kingdom and the United States in three containers. The consignment would be exported via Apapa Port. Assuring the exporters of government’s support, Ogbeh said Nigeria accounts for 60 per cent of global yam production.
“We must sell all whatever we can to the world. We account for over 60 per cent of yam production, yet people do not know that we grow yam,” Ogbeh said. Because attention has been paid more on importation, he said Nigeria, unlike Ivory Coast, does not have export terminal. He said while Ghana’s projection on yam export is impressive, Nigeria can comfortably quadruple that if it keeps pushing to become number one in yam export.
Expressing optimism that Nigeria would soon take a prime position in yam export, the minister asked the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) to reduce the inspection charges so that it can be competitive in the export market. To make yam export competitive, he vowed to work on the packages and the right types of trucks to be used for transportation.
He also tasked the yam export committee on mechanised heap making. He underscored his quest against the backdrop that “we have to mechanise heap making. Otherwise, in five years, you will not find people to do heap making.” While giving assurance of government support, he said the prototype may be costly, but government will fund it, adding to stay ahead of the crisis that will definitely come the problem must be anticipated.