From Taiwo Oluwadare, Ibadan
Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has assured that the research being conducted by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in seed yam multiplication will help Nigeria to quadruple yam production.
Addressing newsmen after a tour of IITA facilities, including cassava fields, the aflasafe (a biocontrol product for controlling aflatoxins) production plant, the seed yam production facility through the aeroponics system, and a soybean inoculum fertiliser facility, Ogbe who was on a two-day visit in Ibadan, said the quality of research at IITA was reassuring and could help Nigeria to address food security challenges and rev up exports.
The minister, who met with the Director General of IITA, Dr Nteranya Sanginga and other top officials of IITA, said the government would work more closely with IITA to ensure that technologies being developed by the institute are scaled out to farmers.
He said agriculture holds the future, but it cannot be achieved through the use of hoes and cutlasses.
“Agriculture is not just hoe and cutlasses, but also research and science. That is what IITA is offering. This institute has come to play a role not just for Nigeria, but Africa,” he explained.
He added that agriculture has fortunes, and “with an institute like this, those who want to go into agriculture and make money should know there is money to be made. With you (IITA), we can move forward.”
On June 29, 2017, Nigeria launched the export of yams with 72 tons of tubers from the country to the United States and Europe, sparking concerns over the ability of the country to sustain exports owing to the high cost of seed yams which is exacerbated by a lack of knowledge on modern seed yam multiplication techniques.
Traditionally farmers are compelled to reserve as much as 30 percent of their harvest as seeds for the next planting season.
However, researchers from IITA and national partners have developed the aeroponic system of seed yam multiplication, whereby the vines of the crop are used in propagating seed yams rather than tubers.