Scarcity: Nigerians May Soon Start Importing Yam From China, Agric Perm Sec.

by Ohepo Ohepo

According to Ernest Umakihe, Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Nigerians may soon be importing yam from China for domestic consumption.

Speaking at a stakeholders’ workshop on repositioning yam as an export crop, Umakihe made this claim.

He bemoaned the fact that Nigeria is not included among the nations that export yams, even though the country produces 67% of the world’s yams.

He voiced worries that, given Nigerians’ preference for imported items and China’s foray into the yam export industry, Chinese yam would soon be discovered in Nigerian kitchens if precautions are not taken. This would increase the number of unemployed Nigerians and decrease the income of yam farmers.

According to Umakihe, Nigeria attempted to export yam for the first time in 2009 when the government of Nasarawa State sold 8.5 metric tonnes. In the same month, Oyo State exported 66 metric tonnes in two shipments, but both attempts were unsuccessful.
He added that the Ministry’s 2017 attempt to bring yam exports back was badly managed.

“The first flag-off ceremony (of yam) with a batch of 72 tonnes to the UK and USA was only conducted in 2017 by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, then headed by Chief Audu Ogbeh, Minister, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. I think these were carried out without enough preparation beforehand. Apart from the aforementioned initiatives, there hasn’t been much news regarding Nigeria’s yam export, he claimed.

Speaking on the workshop’s theme, “Prospects and Challenges of Yam Export in Nigeria,” he stated that it is the responsibility of Nigerians to ascertain the root of the issue and devise a solution.

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