As a move towards boosting the production of yam in the country, the Federal Government has trained 20 yam farmers in Ebonyi on new technique known as the “sackbag’’ yam production.
The training organised by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) was held in Abakaliki on Wednesday.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the farmers were drawn from the 13 local government areas of the state for the training which attracted other key stakeholders in agriculture.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Muhammad Nanono, while making his speech, noted that the innovation was aimed at promoting all-year yam production to ensure food security.
He said that the training would equip the farmers with the relevant skills needed to enhance yam production through the use of the innovation.
The Minister, who was represented by a director in the ministry in charge of Ebonyi office, Chief William Obasi, said that the farmers were selected for the training due to their contribution to food production in the country.
Nanono said that those trained would step down the training to the grassroots.
“You are selected to be apostles of the new technology where we grow yams in bags, every farmer, everybody, even if you are landless, you will have an opportunity to grow yam in your compound if it is properly ventilated.
“We are here to train our yam farmers in Ebonyi on this new innovation so as to make yam farming a good business.
“We want to make food available for our population and reduce food insecurity, we want to engage our farmers and youths positively through the training,’’ Nanono said.
He urged them to make judicious use of the knowledge received from the training and retrain others.
The Minister enjoined the participants to take advantage of the opportunity to address food insufficiency and food insecurity in the nation.
Earlier, Mrs Karim Babangida, a director in the ministry, in a keynote speech, noted that food security was the most important form of guaranteeing the sovereignty of a state.
The director, represented by Dr Perpetua Iyere-Usiahon, noted that guaranteeing food security also required the security of farmers who were saddled with the responsibility of feeding the teeming population of over 200 million people.
She said that in most developing countries such as Nigeria, agriculture was an essential sector considered as the backbone for rural economy as many relied upon it for survival.
“Food insecurity and unemployment remain pressing problem in many parts of Africa with malnutrition identified as primarily being caused by food insecurity.
“Clash between hunger and malnutrition is not caused by insufficient food, instead, it is because certain categories of individuals and households do not have adequate access to food.
“Food insecurity affects both humans and livestock, an attempt for herders to seek for feed for their livestock has led to clash between them and farmers,’’ she said.
Babangida noted that the clash, if not well-managed, could escalate to greater crisis, stressing that it was on that basis that the Federal Government was promoting yam production through the use of sack to ensure food security and address insecurity.
She explained that the innovation had made it possible for all year round production of yams and allowed for the use of small spaces in and around the homes.
“Nigeria is listed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as one of the 20 countries where acute hunger is expected to soar, we must do everything to avert this prediction,” she said.
Meanwhile, Iyere-Usiahon, the yam desk officer in the ministry told newsmen that the innovation involved planting of yam of any specie in bag filled with soil and kept anywhere around the home.
She noted that any variety of yams could be planted using the technique which is also allowed for all seasons planting.
One of the participants, Mr Shadrack Nkwuda commended the Federal Government for the initiative, noting that the innovation would boost yam production in the state.