In an effort to promote a smooth agricultural value chain in Nigeria, the federal government this week inaugurated a yam storage facility in Benue State reported as being able to store up to 200,000 tubers of yam.
The vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, did the inauguration virtually on Tuesday.
The storage facilities, located at Zaki Biam in the Ukum Local Government Area of Benue State, were built by the federal government and donated to the Benue State government.
Speaking at the inauguration virtually, Vice President Osinbajo explained the government’s plans to provide access roads and other basic amenities for the displaced ones in the state.
“The market has little storage facilities hence the construction of the storage facility. However, our government will provide access to roads, solar street lights in the market. We have promised to construct homes for the displaced persons in the state and we will keep to our words,” Mr Osinbajo said.
There are a few things to know about the market that hosts this new storage facility.
The storage facility located at Zaki Biam is reported to have the capacity to store up 200,000 tubers of yam. The Zaki Biam market has 660 units of reconstructed sheds/stalls.
Zaki Biam market is reputed as the largest yam market in Nigeria and perhaps Africa, and buyers from other African countries patronise the market.
The market accounts for 70 per cent of yam cultivated in Nigeria. The market holds every day except Sundays, but Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the busiest.
The government says over 200 trucks load about 2 million tubers of yam weekly from the Zaki Biam market. Consignments are transported to different parts of the country, south and north. And of course, during normal times, they also go out of the country.
Farmers experience post-harvest losses as one of their biggest challenges although a number of treatments and techniques have been developed to reduce losses.
The vice president admitted that the lack of storage facilities contributed immensely to the post-harvest loss in the country.
“Besides, post-harvest losses have been the bane of agricultural production in Nigeria; Nigeria produces 17 million tons of yam annually but loses up to 40 per cent on account of inadequate storage and processing facilities,” Mr Osinbajo said.
“Following discussions between the federal government’s MSME clinics project, the Benue State Government and market stakeholders, it was unanimously agreed that 200,000 capacity Yam storage facility should be located right here in Zaki Biam, Benue State,” the vice president added.
The governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, called on the federal government to address free entry of armed herdsmen from other countries into Nigeria as more lives are being lost due the renewed attacks of the herdsmen in some parts of the state.
“We are worried about the resurgence of armed Fulani herdsmen attacks on Benue people especially in the rural areas,” he said. “As one of the ways to halt these attacks, we call on the federal government to stop the continued free entry of armed herdsmen from other countries into Nigeria.”