Audu Ogbeh, minister of agriculture, says Nigeria’s export of yam to the UK and the US will not lead to a scarcity of the crop.
He said Nigeria does not consume all the yam it produces, and that most of it end up as waste.
Speaking with state house correspondents after the federal executive council (FEC) meeting in Abuja on Wednesday, the minister disclosed that the country would begin export of three containers of yam to the UK and the US on Thursday.
“We informed the council that last week we completed arrangements for the first formal export of Nigerian yams to the United Kingdom,” he said.
“Some people have asked whether by exporting yams we are not going to subject Nigeria to hunger and I had to inform council today that that will not certainly rise. You will remember about February or March this year some of you asked the same question, is Nigeria going to face famine? And I said it cannot happen. Apart from the crisis in the north-east we definitely are not short of food although prices are high in some areas, we are not short of food,” he said.
“Apart from the crisis in the north-east we definitely are not short of food although prices are high in some areas, we are not short of food.
“Tomorrow (Thursday) we shall flag off this export in three container loads containing 72 tonnes of Nigerian yams. Two containers went out in February; one arrived in New York on the 16th of this month. This is important because for those of you who travel and many Nigerians out there, you go to shops where they sell African foods and you never see anything from Nigeria; it is mostly called Ghana yams.
“Now we account for 61 percent of the total output of yams in the world according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the rest is shared between some countries in the West Africa and the West Indies. For us to go abroad and not find Nigerian yams in the market, it is an embarrassment. Because Ghana is targeting $4billion of yams in the next three years and if they can do that, we who are the masters of yam production have no business lagging behind.
“We don’t even consume all the yams we produce here because most of it is lost to wastage because of poor technologies in preservation. We are going to solar coolers in yam markets and yam producing areas to keep the temperature at 14 degrees Celsius, not frozen but to keep it at that temperature so that it can be good all year round and can last up to two to three years in the containers.”