The Technical Committee on Nigeria Yam Export Programme, says it will train farmers on best agronomic practices for yam farming to avoid rejection of the produce at the international markets. Prof. Simon Irtwange, the Chairman of the committee, disclosed this plan in an interview with the Newsmen in Abuja on Monday.
The chairman said that poor agronomic practices during farming contributed to the rejection of the country’s produce at the international market, hence the need for the training. NAN recalls that the Federal Government had announced that the country would commence exportation of about 74 tonnes of yam to Europe and United States of America (USA) by June 29. Irtwange said the committee was partnering with the Yam Farmers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria to carry out the training. He noted that the training would help sensitise farmers on the use of pesticides as well as other requirements for the produce. According to him, we are also in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to provide improved yam seedlings to the farmers. “The committee is supposed to provide technical guidance for anybody who wants to go into yam export. “The exporter must be conversant with the standards for yam export and it the job of the committee to take exporters through the standards so that they will know what the requirements are. “The committee will also make sure that farmers under the Yam Farmers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria, are trained on farming, processing and marketing. “IITA has told us that seedlings will be made available and we want to promote businesses around the yam seedlings value chain,’’ he said. Irtwange said that the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) had made its yam conditioning centre in Zaki Biam, Benue State, available to exporters for the cleaning, wrapping and packaging of the produce before export. “The first requirement for any intending yam exporter is to get your exporters registration certificate from the Nigeria Export Promotion Council, then you come to the technical committee and we show you what to do. “What we are trying to have is a Nigerian yam pack house in Lagos and all regulatory agencies will be there to certify the produce. “The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) will be there to make sure that it is truly yams that are in the cartons, SON will be there to make sure that the yams are exportable varieties and conform to standard weighing about 2kg with a net weight of 20kg per carton. “The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) will also be there to make sure we do not export diseases to other countries.’’ the chairman said. Recall that Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, inaugurated the committee in February to sensitise farmers and exporters on required international standards of yam before exportation. The committee which is private sector led, has representatives from the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) as its members. Other members of the committee include the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), NEPC, Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) and Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC, among others.