The N3.6bn International Institute of Tropical Agriculture’s yam development project which is being funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation listed Nigeria and Ghana as beneficiaries.
In Nigeria, the yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa Project II will be implemented in the Federal Capita Territory, Oyo, Benue, Niger, Nasarawa and Enugu States: while the same project will be implemented in Brong Ahafo and Northern Ghana regions.
While launching the project at the Intentional Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria on Friday, February 24th, 2017, the project Leader, Norbert Maroya, said the grant would be used to develop and scale out seed yam business that would provide healthy seeds of more productive variety for farmers in the identified States. Maroya had declared that the project would run for five years from 2017 and this would enhance productivity and food security for smallholder farmers.
He also stated that “The IITA and Partners intended to increase yam production by 30 per cent by providing a robust seed yam system in Nigeria and Ghana, using a market-based integrated approach to deliver clean, quality seed yam of improved variety to farmers for long term benefit”
He further stated that despite lower yam production each year in the country, Nigeria had market value of about $13.7bn and had the capacity to increase by 30 per cent annually with the new yam seed technology that would benefit farmers in the next five years.
The Project Leader explained that Cassava being the foremost Crop produced in Nigeria with 41 million tonnes annually had the market value of $6.85bn.
Maroya said that although Nigeria accounted for 65 per cent of global yam production, the export level was significantly low, adding that the Nation was not among the first five yam exporting countries of the world, which are Costa Rica, Ghana, Jamaica, Brazil and Panama.