Yam Export Won’t Cause Scarcity in Nigeria—Ogbeh Assures
By Dipo Olowookere
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh, has appealed to Nigerians not to panic over plans by the Federal Government to begin exportation of yam to the United Kingdom and the United States this month end.
Mr Ogbeh assured Nigerians that this move will not lead to scarcity of yams in the country as being feared by many.
Some critics had said this plan by the FG to take yams out of the country to Europe and America was ill-time because, according to them, yams produced by Nigerian farmers were not enough to meet the demands of citizens.
They claimed a similar issue happened when Nigeria began exporting cassava, causing price of the commodity in the local market to skyrocket.
At the moment, a bowl of garri, made from cassava, which used to be around N100 to N200, now goes for over N1000.
But in a statement issued on Monday by the Minister, he said there was no need to panic about the non-availability of yams for Nigerians to consume.
“Dear Nigerians, let me once again, address your concerns about our new programme on yam export. On June 29, 2017, a total of 72 metric tons of yam will leave the shores of Nigeria to Europe and the US, heralding a new dawn in Nigeria’s food exports,” Mr Ogbeh said.
He pointed out that there was never a time shortage of yams was experienced in Nigeria, stressing that, “Over 30 percent of the yams we produce in Nigeria rot away. Export therefore provides opportunities to earn foreign exchange and produce more yams.”
He said if Ghana, which does not grow anywhere near one tenth of the yams grown in Nigeria was targeting $4 billion in yam exports, the nation can do better.
“The export of Nigerian yams is not new. It has just been going through other ports and largely unaccounted for, due to sharp practices.
“The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says Nigeria accounts for 61 percent of yam production in the world. Nigeria has no reason not to engage in and benefit from this profitable trade in view of our large production capacity.
“We cannot diversify our economy if we do not explore new ways of creating wealth and earning foreign exchange especially in items on which we have competitive advantage and superior production capacity. There is no need to panic!
“We need to focus on the opportunities, as we partner with our development partners to create storage facilities to minimize post-harvest losses; and as we work on other exportable agro commodities, we are working on mechanized methods for the production of yam heaps to ease the burden of yam production and review its standards to ensure local improvement and global acceptability.
“To diversify our economy through Agriculture, we cannot, but support this private sector initiative and drive for our Agro commodity exports,” the Minister said in the statement.