Yams are the fifth most widely harvested crop in Nigeria, and one of the most expensive to produce; the planting and harvesting processes require significant labor input, yam seeds are expensive, and the supply of seed is limited.
“It is not easy to see and it is too expensive to plant, it is not everybody can afford to plant yam because it is costly, '' said Hyginus Kpacha, a farmer.
“ It is a general food, everybody eats yam and it is very expensive and not every farmer can plant yam, '' said Daniel Makia, another Farmer.
According to the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ernest Umakhihe, Nigeria is the leading producer of fresh yams, yet it is unfortunate to note that despite the huge production, the country exports less of the product.
“If we must have sustainable food security for our teeming population of over 200 million people and have enough to export to other countries, there is a need to critically examine the factors working against the quality production and export of our major commodities, of which yam is one of them, '' he said.
Experts say deliberate action must be taken to move yam production, processing and marketing to the next level in line with international best practices.
Gen secretary Yam dealers’ association of Nigeria, Hamaad Ibrahim Salisu says the government should collaborate with relevant stakeholders to resuscitate yam export from Nigeria to boost wealth creation and food security.
“Whatever you do if the government are not involved it won’t sound reasonable, We need the government to help us the dealers because we deal with both the marketers and farmers, so that we can export more than we are doing right now, yam is a major crop that can boost the economy, So we need the government to help so that it can grow, help the farmers and small scale businesses, things will be better,” Salisu added.
He noted that the government can help to expand the crop’s production by giving fertilizers and loans to farmers, and also provide security for them.
The agriculture sector in Nigeria employs approximately 60 percent of the labor force and contributes to over 40 percent of the country’s GDP. Michael Dibie, Africanews, Abuja, Nigeria