…N25m initiative capable of transforming yam business
Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
Africa’s leading partner in research for development, the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, has trained some 50 yam farmers in Edo State on a new seed yam production, known as Aeroponics technology, which is aimed at increasing income takings from yam value chain.
The farmers were drawn from Edo’s senatorial districts. They were trained on how to multiply seed yam with the aid of Aeroponics technology.
Malachy Akoroda, a professor of Agronomy in plant breeding and seed production at the University of Ibadan, said, Aeroponics technology is a modern seed yam multiplicity and storage initiative, developed recently.
He informed that the plant technology was developed at the cost of N25 million.
However, its full benefit can only be felt in Nigeria when state governments especially engage the research body through a public-private-partnership (PPP).
IITA collaborated with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA), a $12 million five-year project to develop and establish a functional and commercial seed yam system in Nigeria and Ghana, to benefit smallholder farmers through timely and affordable access to high quality seed yam tubers and improved varieties.
Akoroda, who is YIIFSWA’s advocacy consultant, said, Aeroponics technology is geared towards the production of improved varieties of seed yams that are affordable, sustainable and boost the incomes of farmers; as well as enhance food security.
Addressing the farmers at the one-day training programme in Benin-City, Perpetua Iyere-Usiahon, head of root and tubers division, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Abuja, said the training was geared towards exposing the farmers to new technologies in producing seed yam; and develop a better understanding of existing methods.
Iyere-Usiahon, who is also the focal person, advocacy and resource mobilization of (YIIFSWA) project, said that the training will expose the farmers to different products from yam for income generation through its value chain.
It would expose youths and women to different opportunities existing in yam value chain, as well as encourage government to assist yam sector investors, and provide a budget line for yam in the state as it is being done at the federal level.
She said YIIFSWA is a $12 million five-year project that seeks to develop and establish a functional and commercial seed yam system in Nigeria and Ghana to benefit smallholder farmers through timely and affordable access to high quality seed yam tubers and improved varieties.
Iyere-Usiahon explained that the target of the YIIFSWA project is to provide 1,000 minisets of targeted varieties to national programs responsible for the production of pre-basic seed in Nigeria and Ghana for use as “nuclear” stock for the production of pre-basic seed and other seed classes.
Meanwhile, Akoroda, the expert in plant breeding and seed production, said, the establishment of the Aeroponics plant will boost quality seed yam production in Edo, the South-South zone and parts of South East, South-West and North-Central geopolitical zones.
The agronomy professor called on the Edo State government to facilitate the Aeroponics technology establishment in the state through a public-private partnership (PPP).
Wellington Omoragbon, the Edo state director of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said, the training programme will afford farmers in the state to explore the yam value chain and create wealth from yam farming as a business.
He said the programme was in line with the policy of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for agriculture; adding that the policy was to work with key stakeholders to build an agribusiness economy, capable of delivering sustained prosperity by meeting domestic food security goals, generating exports and supporting sustainable income and growth.