Irtwange said this on Thursday at the inaugural meeting of the Technical Committee on “Nigeria Yam Export’’ in Abuja.
Irtwange, who is also the Chairman of the Technical Committee, said that modalities were already on the ground to ensure that the Nigerian yam flourished in the global market.
“The committee members were carefully selected, based on the area of their professionalism. The committee has set up programmes to deliver their mandates.
“We have already done a lot of underground work and we are going to leverage on the expertise of all the members of our committee, including the Yam Association of Nigeria,’’ he said.
Earlier, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said that Nigeria remained the highest producer of yam in the world, accounting for 61.7 per cent of the global stock.
He, however, noted that Ghana seemed to control the African export market, even though the country could not produce as much yam as Niger, Ebonyi or any other yam producing state in Nigeria.
“Nigeria is by far the largest producer of yam, according to Food and Agriculture Organisation figures on the world’s yam production annually.
“We have about 60 varieties of yam in this country alone but unfortunately, we are not among the yam exporters and that is something that is worrying us,’’ he said.
Ogbeh urged the working committee to ensure that Nigeria began the exportation of yam to international market.
Responding, Mr Isa Adams, the General Secretary of the Committee, commended the Federal Government for the initiative.
“Many Nigerians, who have travelled to other countries beyond Africa, have noted that Ghana’s yam is recognised in the international market.
“As the minister aptly noted, it is time for us to change from our old idea of cultivating yam for domestic consumption only.
“Nigeria is looking forward to diversifying its economy and yam farming can contribute immensely to the country’s economic growth,’’ he said.