Nigeria is not yet able to meet its seed yam demand of N26.4 billion with the country’s prevailing production systems and practices.
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Sabo Nanono, made this fact known at the 4th Annual Progress Review and Planning Meeting (ARPM) of the second phase of the Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA-II) project.
The minister was, however, represented by the Director of the Federal Department of Agricultural (FDA), Mrs. Karima Babangida.
In her keynote address to the project, she pointed out that the current seed yam demand at the ministry is 66,000 metric tons (MT) with an approximate value of N26.4 billion.
But, the current annual production of seed yam is approximately 13,200 MT valued at N5.2 billion. This production effectively translates to a supply gap of 52,800 MT valued at N21.12 billion. This gap, therefore, requires a seed yam systems revolution in the industry!
She commended the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) for developing through YIIFSWA, High Ratio Propagation Technologies (HRPTs), and diagnostic tools “that are capable of raising the productivity of yam within a short period.”
She is urging national research institutes and private seed companies to adopt the technologies to “reverse the unhealthy situation of the yam sector and increase the productivity and competitiveness of Nigerian yam globally.”
Though Nigeria is the largest producer of yam in the world due to the area dedicated to yam production, it has one of the lowest productivities per hectare.
Based on Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) statistics, the Nigerian farmer produces only about 7.9 tons per hectare due to several constraints. The foremost is the unavailability of quality seed yam of both popular local and improved varieties.
To effectively reverse the current situation in the country, farmers need access to at least 12.5 million MT of quality seed yam to cover the reported area (harvested) of about six million hectares (FAO, 2018).
Mrs. Babangida states that the intervention was timely because “the breakthrough would boost the production of seed yam, increase the yields per hectare, boost income for farmers and increase the GDP of the country since quality seed yam accounts for over 50% of the increase in yield.”
She informed the project stakeholders that the government, for its part, has included yam as a priority crop in the 2020 fiscal year and assured the project of the government’s support.
IITA through YIIFSWA-II has scaled out the HRPTs (temporary immersion bioreactor system, aeroponics system, vine cuttings, and the adapted yam miniset technique) for commercial seed yam production and the diagnostic tools for yam quality assurance to four national research institutes, two regulatory agencies and eight private seed companies involved in seed production in Nigeria and Ghana.