The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), has ranked Nigeria as one of the world’s largest producers of yam, accounting for about 64% of the food crop produced globally.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Dr. Mohammed Bello, disclosed this in Abuja at the National Awareness Workshop on Yam, organized by the Advocacy and Resource Mobilization Team (ARMT) of Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA), an initiative of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
Bello, who was represented by the Director of Agriculture at the forum, Engr. Frank Satumari Kudla, noted that though Nigeria produced about 64% the global yam output, the country was still not among the export-producing countries of the food item due to lack of quality seeds of improved varieties and efficient seed production.
According to him, this ugly development was part of the reasons why the IITA, under its YIIFSWA programme considered it imperative to develop High Ratio multiplication technologies, that is, seed multiplication system that is sustainable and capable of producing high quality yam seeds with high yielding potential and at affordable price to farmers.
The Permanent Secretary also pointed out that the current practice in yam seed production in the country stood at a Ratio of 1.1 within 12 months but that the new technology will produce a 1.300 Ratio within six months.
Bello, while commending the activities of YIIFSWA in Benue, Niger, Nasarawa, Oyo, Enugu States and FCT, said that the initiative had led to the use of clean planting materials by some farmers in affected states and the FCT.
In his remarks at the event, Enugu State Commissioner of Agriculture, Hon. Idu Mathew, who was represented by Director, Technical Resources, Mr. Onuze Benjamin, said that “every country that export its raw commodity, exports it’s labour and every other thing that is good to the country”.
He explained that the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service(NAQS) was making effort to ensure that all exportable produce from the country undergoes the normal necessary value chain in addition to processing before export, adding that all farmers should take opportunity of the workshop to add value to what we have in the country.
The focal person for ARMT and YIIFWA Nigeria Team, Dr. Pepetua Iyere-Usiahon, said one of the things that informed the initiation of the YIIFWA programme was challenge of food insecurity which, he said, if not well addressed, could threaten national security and create health problems among the populace .