Ghana has overtaken Nigeria in yam exportation as the quality of the produce from Nigeria has dropped due to high dependent on traditional planting system, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has said.
The institute’s Project Manager, Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa, Dr. Nobert Maroya, said this in Ibadan during a meeting of the IITA’s scientists with top seed production companies from different parts of the country.
He, however, said that the project had developed high ratio propagation technologies such as vine cuttings, aeroponics and bioreactor to address the constraints of quality and multiplication in seed yam production.
Maroya told participants that for Nigeria to profit from the huge financial gain in yam exports, it must develop efficient seed production, distribution and quality assurance systems.
These, he stressed, were the steps taken by Japan and Ghana that placed them ahead of Nigeria among the yam exporting nations.
He said: “In Japan, beer and spirit are extracted from yam. Japan is now producing yam by using vine, which the farmers plant with machine. The way they are going, they will soon become the biggest producer of yam even though it originated from Nigeria and other parts of Africa.
“Ghana yam exporters have an association that determine quality and quantity of yam meant for export. Nigeria began the exportation of yam a long time ago when the product was being exported to Europe from Nasarawa State. At a point, the yam was rejected because of low quality. Many yam producers in Nigeria now want to go back to that era. But we need organisation. The IITA cannot help in exportation business. Ghana is well organised and they maintain the market. The farmers are getting their foreign currency; Nigeria can do the same,” Maroya said.
He, however, said that the objective of the IITA was to help increase the quality of the produce, adding that there must be quality control in each stage of yam production.
The YIIFSWA coordinator said that yam production and foreign earnings from exportation would improve rapidly if the newly developed system was embraced by farmers.
By Pita Ochai