Nigerians may soon be importing yam for local consumption from China, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Ernest Umakihe, has said.
Umakihe stated this while speaking at a stakeholders workshop on repositioning yam as an export crop.
He lamented that despite accounting for 67% of global yam output, it was unfortunate that Nigeria is nowhere on the map of yam exporting countries.
He expressed concerns that with China delving into yam exportation, and considering Nigerians taste for imported goods, Chinese yam may soon be found in Nigerian kitchen if care is not taken, thereby pushing more Nigerians into the unemployment market and and reducing income of yam farmers.
Umakihe said Nigerian’s first attempt at exporting yam was by Nasarawa State Government in 2009 with 8.5 metric tonnes and within the same month another 66 metric tonnes were exported in two shipments, followed by Oyo State, but without success.
He also said that the Ministry’s attempt to revive yam export in 2017 was poorly handled.
“It was only in 2017 that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture under the leadership of Chief Audu Ogbeh, then Minister, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development organised the first flag-off ceremony (of yam) with a batch of 72 tons to UK and USA. I believe these were done without proper planning before the execution. Aside the mentioned attempts, nothing much has been heard of the yam export from Nigeria,” he said.
Speaking on the theme of the workshop, ‘Prospects and Challenges of yam export in Nigeria’, he said it is the duty of Nigerians to find out what went wrong and how to address.
“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 the need to critically examine the factors militating against quality production and export of our major commodities of which yam is one of them,” he said.
The Perm Sec said Ghana, which produces a meager 10% of the global output has grown its earning from export of yam from $18.48 million in 2015 to $39.7 million in 2021 while Nigeria lags behind.
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