NIGERIA – The Technical Committee on Nigerian Yam Export Programme (TCNYEP) has developed a four-year action plan targeting US$10 billion earnings from annual yam exports, reported the Vanguard Nigeria.

The plan which runs from 2017 to 2020 will bring improvement and development in all aspects of yam value chain, according to Prof. Simon Irtwange, the National Coordinator, TCNYEP.

The committee has developed a blueprint for the development of yam value chain production, processing, marketing and exportation.

In a bid to promote exports, the committee also selected some white yam varieties, one of the most prevalent yam in many countries.

Among the white yams selected were Ogoja, Hembamkwase, Awula, Pepe, Faketsa, Puna and Water Yam (Cush-Cush) out of the more than 60 varieties available in the country.

“Indeed, the government policy on yam export has come to stay, the only action now is how to improve on the process.

“The committee has developed Action/Work Plan (2017 – 2020) going forward.

“The plan objective is to create an estimated one million jobs and earnings of at least 10 billion dollars annually in the next four years.

“The total cost required to operate the plan is US$10.25 million,’’ said Irtwange.

He noted that the committee is reviewing the NIS 657:2009 Standard for fresh yam tubers and NIS 000:2007 MT Specifications for yam pounding machine.

Challenges with standards

Irtwange added that the committee is also working to overcome the challenges encountered with the first yam shipment made in June 2017.

Nigeria formally exported its first consignment of certified yams to the UK, US and China in June last year in efforts to reclaim its share of the agricultural export market lost as a result of poor quality and rejection in foreign markets.

However, exports to the US were rejected due to poor quality.

This called for more responsive approach by the federal government to issues of safety and phytosanitary standards in food exports.

In June the same year, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) certified and awarded conformity to standards certificate to PE & I Nigeria Limited, a yam flour processing company.

The country said it was committed to improved exports through expert handling of fresh produce, cold storage and post-harvest loss management.

Though Nigeria is the largest yam producer claiming about 60% of production, the country does not rank amongst the world’s highest exporters of the crop.

The main producing countries of yams are Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast.