Research being conducted by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in seed yam multiplication could help Nigeria to quadruple yam production.
Chief Audu Ogbeh, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development stated this during a two-day visit to IITA in Ibadan.
Addressing newsmen after a tour of IITA facilities including; cassava fields, the aflasafe (a bio-control product for controlling aflatoxins) production plant, the seed yam production facility through the aeroponics system, and a soybean inoculum fertiliser facility; Ogbeh said the quality of research at IITA was reassuring and could help Nigeria to address food security challenges and rev up exports.
The Minister, who met with the Director General of IITA, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga and other top officials of IITA, assured that the government was ready to work more closely with IITA to ensure that technologies being developed by the Institute are scaled out to farmers.
According to him, agriculture holds the future, but it cannot be achieved through the use of hoes and cutlasses.
“Agriculture is not just hoe and cutlasses, but also research and science. That is what IITA is offering. This institute has come to play a role not just for Nigeria but Africa.
“Agriculture has a future. Agriculture has fortunes, and with an institute like this, those who want to go into agriculture and make money should know that there is money to be made. With you (IITA) we can move forward”, he said
Recently, Nigeria launched the export of yams with 72 tons of tubers from the country to the United States and Europe.
Expressing concerns over the ability of the country to sustain exports owing to the high costs of seed yams, which got worse due to lack of knowledge on modern seed yam multiplication techniques.
Traditionally farmers are compelled to reserve as much as 30 per cent of their harvest as seeds for the next planting season.
However, researchers from IITA and national partners have developed the aeroponic system of seed yam multiplication whereby the vines of the crop are used in propagating seed yams rather than tubers.
Dr Norbert Maroya, Coordinator for the project; “Yam Improvement for Incomes and Food Security in West Africa” (YIIFSWA) said through these method, farmers may not need to reserve their harvest for the next planting season, but can simply produce seed yams for the planting season using yam vines.
Ogbeh, who visited the yam aeroponic facility to observe the production of seed yams, noted that the establishment of aeroponic systems across the country would rev up the production of seed yams and could quadruple the production of the tuber crop.
According to him, “One of the major problems facing yam growers is the issue of seedlings, technologies like this can quadruple the production of yams,” he said.
Sanginga, Director General of IITA said the institute would support the efforts of the Nigerian government towards ensuring that the country is food secure.
According to him, the goal of the institute is to work with governments in the context of their national agriculture strategies to eradicate hunger, poverty and create wealth.