As part of efforts towards boosting food availability and expanded value chain, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has trained women and youth on yam processing.
The Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, National Root Crop Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike, Abia State, Mrs Karima Babaginda, while commenting on Tuesday at the institution, said the workshop aims to build the capacity of women and youth in the modern techniques for the processing of yam into different products.
“The training is a practical one, which will lead to the springing up of many small scale yam processing factories. This will reduce post-harvest losses, complement the existing few factories and bring more money to the actors in the yam value chain.
“Besides, post-harvest losses have been the bane of yam production in Nigeria: with a loss of up to 40% on account of inadequate storage and processing facilities,” she said.
According to Babangida, the processing of yam tuber has been an age-long traditional method with little output.
“When processed, it can be eaten by hand or mixed with other traditional and modern dishes. Such factors contribute to make it the most Nitrous food for the individual and commercially very important for any economy.
“Apart from serving as food, it has a lot of industrial uses. It is used in the production of all-purpose- adhesives. The adhesives are used by producers of cartons, packaging companies, and leather and shoe producers.
“The all-purpose adhesive is produced with yam starch. The yam starch is also a good source of Pharmaceutical Grade Starch (PGS). Some industries, particularly in Europe, use yam flour in the preparation of high-quality biscuits, bread, cakes to mention but a few. In Nigeria also, it is used in the production of high-quality bread, cakes, etc,” she noted.
Speaking further she said the choice of women and youth wouldn’t have been more appropriate when the role of women in nation-building is considered.
“Women as we know play a special role in the overall development of the country. “There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved.
“The world’s biggest power is the youth; therefore meaningful efforts must be put in place to help empower them to contribute sufficiently and competently towards the socio-economic and sustainable development of the country.
“Over many years traditional processes have evolved which yield a more durable product and in many instances a more convenient product for domestic use. These traditional methods most often are carried out by women and their children.
“These women have developed an empirical knowledge of the physical and chemical characteristics and the functional properties of the yam starch.
“The traditional processing techniques are laborious and yet cannot bring the desired output and income hence, a more scientific approach has been developed. The capacity of women and youth who are already involved in the processing of yam needs to be developed hence the need for this training.
“NRCRI as we all know is the only institution in Nigeria with the mandate of research into root and tuber crops of which yam is one of them. Over the year, the institute has conducted a lot of research into value addition in yam and alternative uses of the yam.
“The result of the research will be exposed to the participants of this workshop. In addition, experienced resource personnel from IITA and USAID will be at hand to assist in the course of this workshop,” she added.
Recall that efforts have been intensified by the Federal Government towards boosting the agricultural sector in Nigeria with various value chain development projects.