THE Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has has disclosed that the Chinese government is demanding for dry yam from Nigeria to meet industrial and domestic needs.
Chief Ogbeh made this known in Abuja, while inaugurating a technical working committee to fast track the exportation of yam by July 2017.
According to him, 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 crop, adding that Nigeria has over 60 varieties of yam.
He assured that local production and consumption of the commodity would not be affected by the planned exportation, rather government would scale up yam production.
While noting that high level of yam production was ongoing in Zakibiam in Benue State, the Minister said the 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.
“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”.
Chief Ogbeh further 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 further stated that the Nigerian yam export promotion programme was targeted at taking Nigerian yam production, processing and marketing to next level in line with what is done in other country.
He 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.
Ogbeh tasked the committee to develop a framework for establishment of Nigeria yam export by sea and airport where all documentation relating to the export are prepared.
He added that the committee should facilitate acquisition warehouses at the receiving destination, rationalise the bureaucracy of export and enforcement agency located within one roof designated for Nigeria yam export park houses.
The Chairman of the Committee, Professor Simon Tsange, while addressing newsmen, 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.