As non-oil exports continue to rise, countries like Canada, United Arab Emirates, UAE, Israel and Australia are demanding Nigerian yams from exporters in the country.
This was disclosed in a chat with Vanguard, Wednesday, by the Chairman, Technical Committee on Nigerian Yam Exporting Programme, Prof Simon Irtwange, while speaking on harmonizing efforts that will enable them know in terms of how many tonnes of yams leaving the country.
According to Irtwange the process of exporting yams from the country has improved based on the first exercise and experience, which was the official flag off of yam export by the Federal Government on June 29, 2017.
He also said the committee was working to ensure yams are preserved with long shelve life of about six months, which they are looking at various areas of technology, and some are ongoing, possibly to deploy the irradiating techniques that would keep yams from sprouting and possible rot.
He said: “We are going to see more export of yams this year. When we start we are going to do 20 containers every month. A container is 24 tonnes and when multiplied that is 480 tonnes per month and that is our target.
“Basically, this 20 containers are for United States of America, USA, and United Kingdom, UK, and now we are having openings in Canada, Australia where somebody just came back from and said yam is very expensive in that country, and also we have opening in United Arab Emirates, UAE, and there is big Nigerian population in Israel too, and other countries, and the opportunities are coming up on daily basis for us to ship yam to all this places.
“So, we are doing our background work and as soon we are done with the preparation from our own end the Nigerian farmer should do more production because there will be a lot of demand from them to expand their production.” Allaying fears of Nigerians over shortage of yam for local consumption the university don from the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Engineering, Federal university of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State, said,
“We keep saying there would not be any yam shortage because last year for example many more farmers went into production because of the opening for export. “Right now we are working with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, IITA, to deploy seeds for farmers and we are working out the details in terms of seed requirement per state.
“We already have requirements from three regions and we are also expecting other regions to send in their requirements. When we have that we will be able to work out the total quantity. “But we are working with four seed companies that have decided to go into seed production using the aerobatic technique in collaboration with IITA Ibadan, which we have made solid arrangements for seed to get to farmers. So everything is working according to plan”, he stated.
Meanwhile, the Coordinating Director, Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service, NAQS, Dr Vincent Isegbe, urged Nigerians who want to export agricultural commodities to freely approach the agency for proper training to meet international export standards. He said: “Somebody has about 400, 000 tubers of yam to export and he is doing it.
After that incidence he has exported yams and is still exporting and we are working together with him as an agency and he has no issues. “Anybody who wants to export agricultural produce should pass through us so we can advice the person, and that is to take him through the farm process, and we take him through so there will be no rejections, and we also take him through the general process.
So it is important for Nigerians to partner with us so they don’t have any problem across the borders.” (Vanguard)