From Theresa Egba, Abuja
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, has said the country ranks among the world largest yam producer, accounting for 68 per cent of global production of the commodity.
The Minister who disclosed this at the launch of the maiden set of improved certified seed yams in Abuja, added that the root crop is cultivated on 3 million hectares of land annually and the certified seed yam, if sold for N20 each is capable of generating N2.4 trillion.
Lokpobiri, who emphasised the need to embrace agriculture as a sustainable means to growing the economy stated that the country could take advantage of its global lead in exports to even fund the national budget. He said: “Yam is an important source of food and income for millions of producers, processors and consumers in West Africa. About 48 million tons of the tubers are produced annually in the sub-region on 4 million hectares of land. “The five major yam producing countries in the sub-region including Nigeria account for 93 per cent of world production. Nigeria alone produces 36 million tons on 3 million hectares of land annually accounting for 68 per cent of global production being the world’s largest producer.
He also said that the 3 million hectares cultivated
for yam annually will require about 120 billion seed yams per annum at 40, 000 stands per hectare. If sold at N20 per certified seed yam, this gives N2.4 trillion. Unfortunately, this seed yam requirement is met through supplies from unorganised informal sector.
The new variety was an output of a five-year $12 million research programme funded by the Bill and Mellinda Gate Foundation to improve yam seeds by 40 per cent and double yam production for 3 million farmers in the country.
Earlier, Director General of the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), Dr. Philips Ojo disclosed that crop production efforts would yield little result except the issue of quality seeds was adequately addressed.
He admitted that farmers had suffered before now from low seed uptake,
inadequate breeder and foundation seeds as well as inefficient data
collection on seeds.