Yam Market

Mr Yandev Amaabai, the Managing Director, Wan Nyikwagh Farms Nigeria Limited, has appealed to the Federal Government to provide the necessary support to private yam exporters in order to cut cost and prevent time wastage, according to The Tribune.

Amaabai also begged the Federal Government to fast-track the transportation of yam tubers to the United States of America and United Kingdom before their shelf life expiration.

He made the appeal during an interview in Abuja as he admitted that the Federal Government's policy on yam exportation to the US and UK was a good initiative, adding that Nigeria was the largest producer of the product in Africa.

He noted that for the policy to achieve its objectives, there are some challenges that needed to be put in place by the government to ease the stress of exporting yams to other countries to earn foreign exchange.

"I moved my yams from Benue to Lagos on 25 and 26 of June. The flag-off for the yams exportation was on the 29th by the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh.

"When we got to Lagos, I discovered that we needed certain containers to export the yams. I discovered such containers were not available so we were given a space at the port to packed the yams.

"After the flag-off, I was able to get the required container. So my yams were loaded on July 7 and left Nigeria on July 9 to the US. The yams did not get to the US until Sept 1.

"After the flag-off, we were left on our own without any form of direction or assistance by the government and this did not go down well with us.

"Because movement within the ports took us more than 2 to 3 days. To move a container from Tin Can port to Apapa port just a close distance was hectic for us," he said.

He further stated the Federal Government agency is saddled with the responsibility to ensure proper packaging and handling of this product for export due to the lack the exact requirements.

"From my experience, the government agency that was supposed to supervise how we were packaging the yams did not know the exact thing they were supposed to do.

"We were asked to cut the bottom of the yams and put wax but when we got to the US, we discovered that that was not necessary. The moment you cut the bottom of the yam, it makes it rotten quicker.

"So some of the yams when we arrived the US were actually not too good again but most were good and we sold all out," he noted.

Reacting to the recent report of poor quality of consignment of yams exported from Nigeria to the US, the Managing Director debunk the story, stating that the report was politically motivated to frustrate government's effort.

"We did not have any challenge with the America government. My yams were the first to arrive. It was cleared and delivered to the warehouse just three days after shipping in.

"The second day, we moved them to quarantine office where they did fumigation.

"Then we packed our yams to the warehouse. So wherever this story is coming from that America government says that yams exported from Nigeria are not good, I don't know about that.

"Even on the shelves in the US, you can still see some Ghanaian yams rotten. I have pictures as evidence to show in case of any doubt.
"There is no way these yams could have been 100 percent okay because of the time wasted to ship them to the US.

"By all standards, yams from Nigeria were far better in terms of quality and taste. Right now, we are out of stock. The yams we took there were all bought," he said.

Amaabai, however, appealed to the Federal Government to reach out to these shipping lines and ensure quick delivering of such perishable product in good time.

"Government should reach out to the shipping lines. Let us get shipping lines that can do this thing in a shorter period to avoid a lot of time being wasted.
"My yams went through 12 ports before it finally got to the US. If we can get ships that are going the direct route, that will have been better and the cost will also be reduced.

"So far, it was a success story. I believe this is a learning process. I have learned a lot. Next time, I should be able to cut the cost at least half of what I inquired from this last experience."

It will be recalled that the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) an agency that has the responsibility to ensure the quality of yams for export provided farmers with guidelines to meet international standards.

Dr Vincent Isegbe, Coordinating Director, NAQS, spelled out the conditions to include: uniform size of the product, it should not have growth on the head, it will be cut and waxed with a candle to prevent infection among others.

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