The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, on Tuesday said whether Nigerians like it or not, yam farmers will continue with the exportation of yams abroad to earn foreign income.
Ogbeh said the country cannot continue to produce yams in abundance solely for local consumption.
The Minister spoke at the national seed fair organized by the National Agriculture Seed Council (NASC) in partnership with seed entrepreneurs under aegis of the Seed Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN) and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in Abuja.
He said for over 30 years, Nigerian yams were being exported through Ghana and with the label as Ghanaian yams.
The Minister argued that Nigerian farmers also have right to be rich and wealthy rather than being identified with poverty.
Ogbeh said: “Nigerian yams have been going abroad for the last 30 years through Ghana. They call them Ghana yams. So we decided to export ourselves and Nigerians started protesting. The simple request I make for them is go and grow some yams. There are plenty of lands so plant your own. Don’t sit in Lagos in one office and you say your profession is blogging, thereby saying things you know nothing about.
“We will export yams and we will continue to export because there is a market for Nigerians to make money. You farmers too are entitled to earn dollars.”
“The city dwellers believe dollars and travelling abroad is their preoccupation. Only they are entitled to travel to London, Paris and Frankfurt. The rest of us are dying in the village. That is not fair. We will export our yams. Those who want to export can plant and export,” he added.
Speaking on seeds, he said considering the impact of climate change on agriculture, the sector will require more drought and flood resistant seeds.
The Minister said this became important to promote federal government efforts to realizing its food sufficiency target.
According to him, government alone cannot meet the target except collective efforts from everyone including the private sector.
“Government has put in place a lot of measures to increase agricultural productivity. These include purchase and distribution of agro-chemical to reduce the devastating damage of pests, especially fall armyworm on crops.
“Provision of drought and flood tolerant crop varieties to mitigate effects of natural disasters on crop productions. For example, the newly released Faro 66and 67 rice varieties for flood prone areas.
“Encouragement of direct foreign investment in agriculture.”
The Director General, NASC Dr. Philip Ojo, in his remarks vowed to clampdown unauthorized groups or individuals involved in illegal seed business.
He advised seed companies and agro-dealers to ensure sales and distribution of certified seeds approved by the Council.
The DG said without such certification, organisations involved in such criminal act will be prosecuted.
His words: “Let me reiterate that seed business is highly regulated and there are procedures and guidelines for engaging in seed production and marketing. All intending groups and organisations going into seed business are hereby reminded that they must be duly accredited and licensed by the council.”