The Nigerian Ports Authority has promised to dedicate some terminals strictly for export as the Nigeria Yam Export programme begins.
This becomes imperative as first batch of the yam were exported to the UK at the Lilypond Container Terminal in Lagos.
Speaking at the official flag off of the programme, the managing director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Hadiza Bala Usman assured exporters of the authority’s readiness to put in place necessary facilities to support exportation in Nigeria.
According to her, “NPA is already looking at prioritizing some terminals strictly for export among which is Ikorodu, but the only challenge with Ikorodu Terminal is the problem of low head room of the three bridge across the lagoon.”
She assured that several alternatives are being considered in other to play a pivotal role in the Federal Government’s drive to promote the export of solid minerals and agricultural produce through the nation’s seaports.
The NPA boss who expressed pleasure to be part of the export of non-oil export through the Port added that Nigeria is richly blessed in the agricultural sector and the time has come for the nation to step up in the area of exportation of yam, being the largest producer of the product in the world.
She further emphasized that the development of intermodal transportation system would help a great deal especially rail link to the Ports which will cover almost 3,500km of existing narrow gauge lines from the South West commercial capital, Lagos to Kano in the North East rail lines.
Mrs Usman noted that it was important for Nigerians to return to the farm to produce enough yams for both local consumption and export, pledging that everything would be done to guarantee smooth exportation from the Ports.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has reassured Nigerians that there is no reason to be anxious about what the new initiative of the Nigerian government on yam export portends for the populace.
The Minister specifically said that those who are apprehensive about possible non-availability of yams for local consumption as a result of yam export need not be.
This week signals a new dawn in Nigeria’s food exports, with a consignment of 72 metric tons of yam leaving the shores of Nigeria to Europe and the US, essentially setting the stage for the country’s return to the global yam value chain as a dominant player in the world market which is long overdue.
Nigeria has consistently been reckoned globally as the largest producer of yams, at various times accounting for anything between 65 and 76 per cent of the world production.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report, in 1985, reported that Nigeria produced 18.3 million tonnes (metric tons, MT) of yam from 1.5 million hectares, representing 73.8 per cent of total yam production in Africa.