Nigeria is the world largest yam producer with 68 percent of global production, Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri has declared.
He stated this at the launch of the maiden set of improved certified seed yams at the weekend in Abuja.
He said the root crop is cultivated on 3 million hectares of land annually with the certified seed yam capable of generating N2.4billion if sold for N20 each.
Lokpobiri, who emphasised on need to embrace agriculture as a sustainable means to growing the economy, stated that the country could take advantage of its global lead for exports and even fund the budget.
He said: “Yam is an important source of food and income for millions of producers, processors and consumers in West Africa.
“About 48 million tons of the tubers are produced annually in the sub-region on 4 million hectares of land. The five major yam producing countries in the sub-region including, Nigeria account for 93 per cent of world production.
“Nigeria alone produces 36 million tons on 3 million hectares of land annually accounting for 68 per cent of global production being the world’s largest producer.”
The new variety was an output of a five-year $12 million research programme funded by the Bill and Mellinda Gate Foundation to improve yam seeds by 40 per cent and double yam production for 3 million farmers in the country.
Director General of the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), Dr. Philips Ojo, stated that crop production efforts would yield little result except the issue of quality seeds was adequately addressed.
He admitted that farmers had suffered from low seed uptake, inadequate breeder and foundation seeds as well as inefficient data collection on seeds.
Source: The Nation