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Yam Export May Affect Nigeria’s Food Security, Experts Warn

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 LEADERSHIP Sunday, 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.

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