THE Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh on Thursday said despite criticisms on the ongoing yam export, the federal government will continue exporting the product as it has contributed immensely to the nation’s economy.
Chief Ogbeh also revealed that the food market in the United Kingdom is £30 billion, while Nigeria is just exploiting only £15 million.
The Minister who disclosed this at the end of the Yam exporters’ stakeholders meeting also highlighted the need to embrace export of agricultural produce following the dwindling oil price.
According to him “the Federal government position is that we are exporting yams and we will continue to export yam because we are the biggest producers in the world and we should be the biggest exporter.
“While people are talking now, the rest of the world has given us notice about 10 years from now we won’t be selling much oil, and if you people want to wait till then to look for what to export, the crisis they will be worst than what we have now, and when we want to do it, we look like the enemies of this country we feel sorry for those who are so ignorant, they don’t understand, but we will continue until we take over the world market.
Reacting to the purported rejection of yams in the UK, Ogbeh said there was no rejection of Nigerian yams in the UK, instead, “there was a delay in shipment, there were not enough cold room facilities, that are what we are discussing.
He, however, said” We are talking, there is a manufacturer now who will be installing conditioner rooms both at the ports and the farms and the mini centres where these things are produced to keep them fresh and to have them packaged properly according to demand standards in Europe and once that is done, the Europeans have no quarrel. The Americans, the Canadians are looking for yams at least the large population of Nigerians abroad are looking for this.
Furthermore, the Minister maintained “we will continue doing the business, expanding it, we have a team coming from the United Kingdom shortly to sit down with us and discuss export possibilities, I was there 11 days ago and they said that food market is £30 billion and Nigeria is taking just £15 million and they were wondering what we were doing, there is no reason what we can’t take 10 percent and if they need things from us and we can produce those things to their standard, what are we waiting for?”
“The team from U.K will come to Nigeria, spend about a week or more, then they will sit down with Nigerian exporters, they (exporters) will hear from the U.K authorities on how they want these things brought to their country, then whoever fails to meet the standard shouldn’t blame anybody, but also we don’t want Nigeria being embarrassed out there by people who are in a hurry to send things without meeting standards.
Speaking further, the Technical committee chairman, Nigerian Yam Export programme, Professor Simon Irtwange said “our yams were not rejected, yams can only be rejected at the port of entry, not in the off-takers warehouse. So we were all surprised that yams were rejected by the United States of America.
“We need to reduce the number of regulatory agencies that are trying to say they are relevant when actually they are not.
“When we got to the US, the Authorities asked us only for the phytosanitary sanitary certificates and nothing else.”