Business is booming.

Lack of quality inhibits Nigerian yam abroad, says expert

The National Centre for Genetic Research and Biotechnology (NACGRAB) on Wednesday said although Nigeria is the largest producer of yam in the world, our yam was not popular on the international market because of quality issues.

”Lack of good quality planting material has been identified as one of the most severe problems militating against increased yam production.

“Inefficient traditional methods of yam production require farmers to save a minimum of one third of their harvest for the next planting season,” NACGRAB’s Director for Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA), Dr Aladele Ezekiel said.

Speaking in Ibadan at the Open Day and sensitization on Temporary Immersion Bioreactor system for Breeder Seed Yam Production for stakeholders in South West, Ezekiel, who was represented by Dr Anthony Okere, note that yam was a staple food for millions of people across the globe, with no fewer than five million depending on the yam value chain for food and livelihood.

Read also: Covid-19 Pushes Households Further Below Poverty Line – NBS

He said YIIFSWA was initiated in 2012 to reduce constraints in the yam sector by exploring prospects that could double yield and address the lack of sufficient quantities and absence of quality seed yams.

“The objectives of the first phase of the project were to strengthen small scale farmers to realize benefits from improved yam productivity.

“Reduce post-harvest losses by improving product quality, establish sustainable availability of high quality seed yam on a commercially viable and competitive basis in targeted areas.

“Develop technologies for high ratio propagation of high quality breeder and foundation yam,” he said

Also speaking, Dr. Morufat Balogun, YIIFSWA Tissue Culture Specialist, said that Nigeria accounted for up to 67 per cent of global yam production, but lamented that the menace of poor-quality seed yam within an informal seed system where seed yam is farmer-saved, has plagued yam production for decades.

“Overcoming this menace requires availability of clean initial stock of planting materials of improved varieties (Breeder seed yam) in sufficient quantities within formal seed system where regulatory rules are functional, based on quality control at all levels of production.

“The YIIFSWA project has developed and standardized the use of heat therapy combined with meristem tissue culture for cleaning yam of viruses and the Temporary Immersion Bioreactor System (TIBS) for scale up propagation of clean Breeder plantlets from which foundation and commercial seeds are produced.

“This way, more than 20 varieties of yam in Nigeria have been cleaned of diseases,” she said.

The Temporary Immersion Bioreactor System (TIBS) is an automated, advanced tissue culture technology, where plants are intermittently immersed in nutrient solution in a closed, sterile environment for increased productivity and reduced cost production.

Dr Adedotun Afolayan, the Head Tissue Culture Section, NACGRAB, said the exhibition was to showcase yam breeder seeds that had been produced through tissue culture technology to farmers and make them aware that there were alternatives to planting materials rather than cutting tubers.

NACGRAB’s Research and Development (R&D) activities involved exploration, collection, identification, evaluation, characterization and conservation of plant and animal genetic resources.

NACGRAB has about 10,000 accessions of different crop species in its short and long term storage facilities, while recalcitrant tree species are conserved locally at the centre’s field Gene bank.

The Ibadan-based centre also conserves different locally adapted/endangered animals under Animal Genetic Resources department (AnGR) for R&D.

NACGRAB collaborates with other National and International Institutions to improve propagation and utilization of crop species for food, economic and medicinal uses. 

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