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Yam farmers enjoy good market as harvest begins

If you consume yam a lot, you will probably agree that the price is no longer what it used to be.

Although the old yam which cost much is still available in some markets across the country, new yam has now hit the markets presenting consumers with a choice between old and new.

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Since hitting the market a few weeks ago, yam farmers are harvesting good prices for the produce.

Yam production in some states like Benue and Nasarawa has, however been severely affected by prolonged farmers-herders crisis.

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Some farmers, who spoke with this reporter, said the tuber crop does better in the market at the moment compared to other crops but that the challenges of cultivation still remained enormous.

Jatau Emmanuel, who puts his age at 45, sold 2,500 tubers at N280 each on Friday and that put N700,000 into his pocket.

Although he planted 7,000 heaps, the 2,500 he has so far harvested this rainy season is still good for him having been in production for 15 years.

This money, Mr Emmanuel stressed would help him a lot to solve the challenges of school fees, change the leaking roof in his house in a village at the outskirts of Agyaragu in Nasarawa State.

He has not sold yams worth that amount before and the excitement was easy to see on his face.

Along the major highway in Nasarawa, four tubers cost between N1,200 and N2,000 or even more, depending on their sizes.

At Dutsen-Alhaji market in Abuja, four tubers could cost between N1,300 and N1,700 depending also on the sizes of the tubers.

Most of the yams at the Dutsen-market come from Ijakoro – a yam producing community on the outskirts of Bwari Area Council of the FCT, but under Niger State administration.

Following a renewed focus on yam export by the current administration, farmers have been encouraged to cultivate yam massively to meet local and export demands.

However, Chairman of the Yam Farmers Association of Nigeria and the chairman, Technical Committee on Nigeria Yam Export Programme, Professor Simon Irtwange, in a recent interview with this reporter, stressed that the challenges of yam production have to do with inadequacy of varieties of yam seedlings to meet farmers’ needs across the growing belts of the country.

Irtwange, a yam farmer, who is also a Professor of Processing and Storage at the University of Agriculture Makurdi, stressed that this year alone, yam farmers needed about 9.1 million seedlings to meet the growing demand for local consumption and export this year.

Also, the minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has noted that yam production declined because the technology for making heaps was unavailable, while most of the aging farmers cannot no longer make good heaps.

He also observed that the younger folks see heap making as tedious, adding that government has to step in, to make available heap-making technology for farmers to boost production across the country.

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