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Nigeria: Yam strategy for Nigeria underway

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Source: Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
Country: Nigeria

Researchers and partners met at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan last week to draw a strategy for yam for Nigeria. The strategy aims to put yam on the national agenda as the oil-rich nation embarks on efforts to transform its agricultural sector.

IITA convened the meeting and participants were drawn from other national research institutes such as the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), Lagos; the agricultural development programs (ADPs), the private sector and other key stakeholders/actors in the yam value chain.

Addressing participants at the workshop, Dr Robert Asiedu, IITA Director for West Africa reechoed the importance of yam not only in Nigeria, but also globally.

He said the need to draw a strategy for yam is driven by the desire to harness the exceptional qualities of the crop which are yet to be fully exploited for economic growth and food security. "The strategy will guide us in ensuring synergies and focus on real priorities as we work with partners to unlock the potential of yams" he said.

With about 68 percent of global output coming from Nigeria, yam plays a key role in the country and the West Africa region as a whole, contributing to protein and dietary calorie intake. The crop is also used for cultural events including marriages and annual festivals.

However, yam production is declining in some traditional producing areas due to declining soil fertility, increasing pest pressures and the high cost of labor, Dr Asiedu said, a reason why a roadmap for the crop is imperative.

So far, Ghana has developed its strategy, paving the way for increased export and other industrial uses for the crop.

Dr Antonio Lopez, IITA Yam Breeder, said having a strategy for yam that would dovetail into the national agricultural policy of the government would bring several benefits to the country, including increase in economic development.

Participants commended IITA for convening the participatory meeting and bringing yam to the front burner. According to them, the strategy would enhance more coordinated efforts towards addressing the constraints to increased yam production in the country, and would give farmers the opportunity to improve their incomes and better their livelihoods.

The participatory meeting in Ibadan was co-facilitated by Ms Sylvia Oyinlola, IITA Regional Administrator for West Africa.

The yam strategy meeting in IITA Ibadan is coming ahead of the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week, which begins on 15 July 2013 and is being organized by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), in Ghana.

For more information, please contact: Godwin Atser, g.atser@cgiar.org


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