Poor quality of Nigerian yams hindering export potentials says Research centre

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By: Kazeem Biriowo

The National Centre for Genetic Research and Biotechnology (NACGRAB), on Wednesday, said the poor quality of Nigerian yams has continued to hindered its export potentials.

It said despite being the largest producer of yam in the world, the commodity is ranked low in the international market because of quality issues.

NACGRAB’s Director, Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA), Dr Aladele Ezekiel made the assertion at the Open Day and sensitisation on Temporary Immersion Bioreactor system for Breeder Seed Yam Production for stakeholders in South West.

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He described yam as a staple food for millions of people across the globe, with no fewer than five million depending on the yam value chain for food and livelihood.

His Words:”Lack of good quality planting material has been identified as one of the most severe problems militating against increased yam production.

“Inefficient traditional methods of yam production require farmers to save a minimum of one-third of their harvest for the next planting season,”

The Director, who spoke through Dr Anthony Okere, explained that the realities led to the initiation of YIIFSWA in 2012.

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He said the initiative was to reduce constraints in the yam sector by exploring prospects that could double yield and address the lack of sufficient quantities and absence of quality seed yams.

“The objectives of the first phase of the pro⁸project  were to strengthen small scale farmers to realize benefits from improved yam productivity.

“Reduce post-harvest losses by improving product quality, establish sustainable availability of high-quality seed yam on a commercially viable and competitive basis in targeted areas.

“Develop technologies for high ratio propagation of high-quality breeder and foundation yam,” he said

On her part, Dr Morufat Balogun, YIIFSWA Tissue Culture Specialist, said Nigeria accounts for about 67 per cent of global yam production, but the menace of poor-quality seed yam within an informal seed system where yam seed is farmer-saved, has plagued yam production for decades.

“Overcoming this menace requires the availability of clean initial stock of planting materials of improved varieties (Breeder seed yam) in sufficient quantities within formal seed system where regulatory rules are functional, based on quality control at all levels of production.

“The YIIFSWA project has developed and standardised the use of heat therapy combined with meristem tissue culture for cleaning yam of viruses and the Temporary Immersion Bioreactor System (TIBS) for scale-up propagation of clean Breeder plantlets from which foundation and commercial seeds are produced.

“This way, more than 20 varieties of yam in Nigeria have been cleaned of diseases,” she said.

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