The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has trained no fewer than 70 yam farmers in Edo on management of beetle infestation of yam.
A Director in the ministry, Mrs Karima Babangida, said in Benin that the training was necessary, following the looming food crisis occasioned by COVID-19, flood and regional conflicts in the country.
Babangida, represented by Mr Wellington Omoragbon of the ministry, noted that yam was a staple food for estimated 60 million Nigerians, adding that there had been steady growth in yam production in Nigeria since 1997.
“With an average growth rate of 4.6 per cent annually, this accounts for the position of Nigeria as the highest producer of yam globally.
“In spite of this enviable position and growth in yam production, infestation of yam tuber by beetles has posed a major challenge to increased yam production output.
“The yam beetle is a very serious pest of yam cultivated in the riverine areas particularly in the forest agro-ecological zones like Edo.
“Beetle infestation is usually serious with over 20 per cent attack rate which result in reduced yields.
“The ministry has risen to the challenges ahead and has come out with innovations to achieve results in the yam value chain.
“One of the innovations in the midst of COVID-19 and insecurity in the country is the use of sack bags in the production of yams.
“This will also create ways for the production of yams all year round,” she said.
According to her, the choice of Edo for the training is based on its position in yam production in the country.
Babangida urged the farmers to extend the knowledge gained during the capacity building to train other farmers.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Babangida also distributed yam seeds, sack bags and organic dust to farmers to kickstart the use of sack bags for yam production in the state.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Edo, Mr Peter Aikhuomobhogbe, thanked the federal ministry of agriculture and rural development for choosing the state for the training.
Aikhuomobhogbe was represented by the state Programme Manager of Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), Mrs Fidelia Aikhuomobhogbe.
He said the farmers were selected from the three senatorial districts of the state.
The permanent secretary urged the farmers to take advantage of the training to increase yam production in the state and create wealth for themselves. (NAN)