By Ginika Okoye
Abuja – The Federal Government says it will invite British experts to train exporters on best export packaging requirements to reduce cases of yam rejection at the international markets.
Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said this during a meeting with yam exporters in Abuja on Thursday.
Ogbeh said the training, to be funded by the Federal Government, would enable the experts to educate yam exporters on what they want, how they want it and the rules to reduce challenges faced during the trade.
The minister appealed to yam exporters to always ensure that their products meet the required standard before exportation, adding that the future of the country depended on agro exports and solid minerals.
He apologised to the exporters for the pains experienced during exportation of yams to other countries.
““I was talking to the British and they said they would come here and discuss with us on how to package exports.
“”We will invite them at our cost and invite all of you from all over the country.
“”Maybe we will meet in three locations, go through two or three days workshop on what they want, how they want it, what the rules are.
“”Once we reach an agreement, we will eliminate all obstacles in the way of exporters,’’ he said.
On negative media reports concerning yam exports in the country, he said “he was going to continue with his work adding that he believed he was doing the right thing.
“”Nigerians want good governance and they want their leaders to perform and when you start to do it, then they will say that you are now a criminal.
““A society that doesn’t have interest in history can’t make any progress. We are trying to create new avenues to earn foreign exchange and what all see is lot of irritating materials in the media,’’.
The minister said that the country produced 70 per cent of the world’s yams while Ghana accounted for only 5 per cent.
Ogbeh advised exporters to begin talks with some courier and shipping agencies like DHL to facilitate yam exports.
He said that the Federal Government would address issues surrounding the increasing number of regulatory agencies at the ports to ensure smooth transition during export.
Earlier, Prof Simon Irtwange, the Chairman, Technical Committee on Nigeria Yam Export Programme, lamented the high cost being experienced by yam exporters.
He expressed the readiness of exporters to adhere to the yam export requirements to meet international standards.
Irtwange said that British Airways had given the committee a bill of N680, 000 per tonne for the transportation of yams to the U.S. and N330, 000 per tonne to the United Kingdom.
The chairman appealed for support of the Federal Government to reduce the expenses.
Dr Vincent Isegbe, the Coordinating Director of the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), said that the service would soon release bulletins to educate exporters on conditions to be met before yam exportation.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), NAQS, were represented at the meeting.