The National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) is set to establish green house facilities across the country to boost the industrialisation of yam production. It will be done in partnership with Biocrops Technology Ltd.
Prof. Alex Akpa, Director General of the NABDA, in an interview on Wednesday, October 14, 2020 in Abuja, said the production had become imperative.
He stressed that the objective was to boost the federal government’s policy on diversification and self-sufficiency in food production.
NABDA’s yam production and multiplication system is the yam aeroponics technology system, a state-of the-art green house facility for production and multiplication of yam seedlings.
Akpa said the decision to establish green house facilities in all 36 states was in line with the target set for the agency by Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology.
He said the Minister asked the agency to produce 100 million yam seedlings as a result of the successful production one million disease free, high grade yam seedlings in 2019 which they distributed to farmers.
Akpa said one of the targets of the agency in 2020 is to develop five million yam seedlings using technology, but as COVID-19 pandemic hinders production, they would at least try to produce up to three million.
“Initially the green houses were for the six Geo-Political Zones of the country, but in order to meet up the minister’s apex target of 100 million seedlings, we needed to expand to all states.
“Once we do that, we will be in a very comfortable position to meet the minister’s target,’’ the professor said.
He said his agency had centres in almost all states of the federation which would make it easy for their scientists to mass produce the seedlings using the same technology.
According to him, as high grade yam seedlings, it means they can be used for the production of pharmaceutical grade starch which is extremely important.
Akpa regretted the idea that Nigeria almost virtually imports all her pharmaceutical grade starch, but was confident that, with what his agency was doing, the country was on the path to industrialisation.
“Through massive production of yam, we are getting ready to operate industries, not only to produce yam flour for export, but also to produce pharmaceutical grade starch for our pharmacies to grow,’’he said.
Akpa had hosted the project team of the Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA) of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
He said that the team was on an inspection tour to assess the progress of work done by Biocrops on the seeds production.
He hinted that the NABDA yam project was carried out in partnership with Biocrops Technology Ltd, which was also one of the seed companies in the YIIFSWA project of IITA.
Dr Ebiarede Zidafamor, Director, Seed Coordination and Management Services at National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), and member of the YIIFSWA project, also said the team came to assess Biocrops’s work in NABDA.
Dr Nasiru Ibrahim, Director of Agricultural Biotechnology at the NABDA said farmers and Nigerians would benefit from the yam aeroponics technology by getting clean planting materials, better income and better management.
By Sylvester Thompson