The Director-General of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Muda Yusuf, has expressed the stance of the business group on the federal government’s decision to export yam to the European continent and the United States of America (USA).
According to him, yam is hardly affordable to the local consumer so the federal ministry of agriculture should have been preoccupied with improving the production of yam so that it could be available locally before thinking of exporting it.
He said, “There is a need to get our priorities right. The major preoccupation of the agriculture ministry at this time should be how to improve productivity in agriculture. The sector is still dominated by smallholder farmers who do not have the capacity to support the realisation of the vision of food security for the country.
“The sector is grappling with serious issues of high cost of farm inputs, including agrochemicals, high cost of agricultural machineries and equipment, access to land for mechanised farming, sustainable off takers of agricultural products, access to finance (especially working capital by investors in the sector), security challenges faced by farmers because of the activities of herdsmen, and many more. These are the issues we expect the agriculture ministry to be addressing now.
“There is also a social dimension. The biggest worry of majority of the citizens now is high food prices. The negative welfare effect is profound. It is difficult to reconcile this reality with the dramatization of the export of yam.
“It is good to generate foreign exchange, but we have a moral responsibility to respond urgently to the problem of hunger occasioned by high cost of food.”
It could be recalled that the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, during the flagging-off the Nigeria Yam Export in Lagos on Thursday had said Nigeria produces more food than the people can consume.