Experts in Nigeria’s agricultural sector have expressed fears about the nation’s new export policy of yams to the United Kingdom and the United States, saying it could be a minus to the nation’s food security.
Speaking with journalist, the national president, Sorghum and Millet Farmers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Yusuf Adams, called for pragmatic strategies to scale up yam production so as to get a balanced result, which will be a plus to both the economy and food security.
He noted that only Benue and Niger States were currently producing yam in large quantities, adding that this notwithstanding, the average price of a tuber of yam in the market was between N400 and N500.
Adams particularly advised that, while the federal government should involve yam farmers in the new initiative, it should buy yams directly from farmers and process them for export in order to boost the their income and standard of living.
He said that the federal government should also consider plans for the exportation of produce like sorghum and millet because of their abundance and export potential.
Also, the National Coordinator for Zero Hunger Commodities, Dr Tunde Arosanyin, who commended the federal government for the new initiative, however, said that a lot needs to be done to increase food production in the country.
His words: “Ordinarily, the exportation of food items to Europe or America is a welcome development but there are mixed feelings on the policy in the sense that people are presently hungry in Nigeria. We do not have enough food to eat; the government and citizens must look inward to see how they can embark on more integrated farming to produce enough yam.
“The focus should not only be on how to improve yam production alone but should also be on other crops like cassava, rice, maize, millet and sorghum and so on. When we are able to produce surplus food and feed ourselves, we can then think of selling these commodities to earn the much-needed foreign exchange.
“Earlier in the year, neighboring African countries came here and bought produce such as maize and sorghum. This resulted in the scarcity of these products and jacked up their prices beyond the reach of an average Nigerian”.
Stakeholders who spoke with LEADERSHIP Sunday in Lagos insisted the hardship, which most citizens were facing in purchasing yams in the market, must be addressed first.
They said that the export policy could be counter-productive if no tangible efforts were made to boost yam production across the country.
They commended the federal government for the new initiative, noting however that a lot needs to be done to increase food production in the country.