By Ginika Okoye
The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) on Friday advised the Federal Government to revive ailing yam conditioning centres and establish some in all yam-producing communities nationwide.
Chief Daniel Okafor, the Vice President, Root and Tubers, AFAN, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the centres would ensure product standard and facilitate export of the crop.
Okafor said, when constructed in the yam-producing communities, the centres would save the farmer the burden of sorting, cleaning, weighing, packaging and transportation to the market.
The vice president said it was regrettable that some of the centres were neglected by previous governments.
He noted that reviving the ones that had suffered neglect and establishing new centres would encourage more farmers to produce yam for export.
“Providing a centre where yams for export will be sorted is very necessary.
“The government is supposed to construct these centres in all the communities that produce yam where it can be sorted.
“When farmers bring the yams to the centres, it will be weighed, to know the ones that meet the required standard for export so that they can be cleaned and packaged for export.’’
Okafor commended the Federal Government for officially exporting 72 tonnes of yam to Europe and USA.
He, however, called for the support of yam farmers to encourage and boost yam production to meet exportation demand.
The vice president suggested that timely distribution of inputs like fertilisers, pesticides and improved yam seedlings to farmers, would guarantee the workability of the yam export programme.
“If we must be competitive in yam production, farmers and exporters must be supported.
“This is the only thing that will make Nigeria compete with Ghana in yam exportation,’’ he said.
The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) said it had made its yam conditioning centre in Zaki Biam, Benue, available to exporters for the cleaning, wrapping and packaging of the produce before export.
The Federal Government through Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, on June 29 in Lagos, exported the first official yam shipment to Europe and U.S.