The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has disclosed that a total of 72 metric tons of yam will leave the shores of Nigeria to Europe and the United States next week
The minister made the disclosure at the end of the meeting with the technical committee on Nigerian Yam Export Programme in his office in Abuja.
The flag-off of what promises to be the dawn of a new era in raw food exportation from Nigeria will be done at the Apapa Port on Thursday (June 29, 2017). Of the 72 metric tons to be exported in three containers at 24 metric tons each, one container will be exported to the United Kingdom while two others will go to the United States.
Assuring the exporters of government’s support, the minister promised the exporters who led this effort that “everything spent will be refunded.” To make money from Nigeria’s agricultural export, he said, “we must sell all whatever we can to the world. We account for over 60 percent of yam production, yet people do not know that we grow yam.
Addressing the yam exporters, the minister praised them as “the real heroes of Nigeria,” adding that “oil and gas cannot employ millions of workers.”
Because attention has been paid more on importation, he said Nigeria, unlike Cote d’Ivoire, does not have an export terminal. According to him, “Ghana’s projection on yam export is impressive. Nigeria can quadruple that. We should keep pushing to become number one in yam export.”
Expressing optimism that Nigeria would soon take a prime position in yam export, Chief Ogbeh asked the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) to reduce the inspection charges “so that we can be competitive” in the export market.
To make yam export competitive, he vowed to work on the packages and the right types of trucks to be used for transportation. He also tasked the yam export committee on mechanised heap making. “Can we design a plough that can make yam heaps?” he asked. “We will find funds to do the research anywhere in the world.”
He underscored his quest against the backdrop that “we have to mechanise heap making. Otherwise, in five years, you will not find people to do heap making.” Assuring of government support, he said “the prototype may be costly, but we will fund it. So, we have to stay ahead of the crisis that will definitely come. Let us anticipate this problem.”
On the yam export, one of the prospective exporters, Elizabeth Olanrewaju Nwankwo, CEO of Oklan Best Ltd., said that “the joy of it is that we are trying to rebrand the image of our nation and the acceptability of our products in the international market.” According to her, “prior to this, our name has been synonymous with bad quality, failure and rejects. Nwankwo observed the need for backward integration as part of the agricultural export drive.