The Voices for Food Security (VFS) Campaign has commended the Federal Government and its agriculture ministry for breaking into the international market with one of Nigeria’s staple crops – yam.
The move by government is part of the country’s desperate efforts to deepen the agriculture sector, as a major pillar in the diversification agenda and broaden its foreign exchange earnings’ base and export offerings.
The group’s Chairman, Prof. Gbolagade Ayoola, at the weekend, in Abuja, said it is commendable, as the effort fits directly into the extant policies of the administration, particularly the Green Alternative – The Agricultural Promotion Policy (2016-2020).
He described it as a step aimed at deepening the philosophy of farming as a business and further developing markets for Nigeria’s agricultural commodities that have the potential to attract foreign exchange.
Nigeria is the world largest producer of yam with yearly production of about 40 million metric tonnes, accounting for 70 per cent of world yam production.
But the VFS Secretary, Ken Ukoha, noted that it is regrettable that despite this position, Nigeria has not been earning foreign exchange from the commodity, while countries like Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire that produce far less quantity of yam have dominated the international market. They are getting significant foreign exchange from the commodity, and perhaps sourcing their yam from Nigeria.
Besides, he pointed out that in the recent time, selected Nigeria’s agricultural commodities have been facing some level of rejection at the international market due to issues related to sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards.
“That Nigeria has been granted the licence to export yam is therefore an indication that the country is overcoming some of the issues that act as impediments to becoming a major player in the international trade arena with respect to agricultural commodities.
“VFS believes that this giant stride will stimulate increased production of yam among farmers in the medium to long term, encourage private sector participation in the yam value chain, initiate more research on yam and encourage special government interventions on the yam value chain,” he said.