STAKEHOLDERS have called for the repeal of the Export Prohibition Act, saying it hampers yam exportation.
Nigeria which accounts for 61.7 per cent of global yam production, is presently is the world’s largest producer of yam ,regrettably, it is not among the world yam exporting countries.
Ghana controls Africa’s yam export market, which value of $13.7 billion exceeds all other African staple crops equivalent to the combined value of cassava, maize, millet, sorghum and rice.
Ghana despite having low yam production, accounts for 94 percent of total yam exports in West Africa to the US, Canada, UK and Europe with the yam export trade employing over one million work force.
The Export Prohibition Act, which took effect from February 1989, stipulates that any person who takes, causes to be taken, induces any other person to take, or attempts to take out of Nigeria any of the goods specified, shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for life.
Yam tubers, beans, cassava tuber, maize, rice, are prohibited by the Act for export, also all products or derivatives of items from number one to five, all imported food items.
Stakeholders in agriculture are of the view that this Act is out of sync with current national and global developments and should be repealed.
They said the Export Prohibition Act, 1989 does not support the diversification agenda of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Regrettably, while government policies seek to promote export of agricultural produce and their products or derivatives as a diversification strategy, there is a legislation by the National Assembly that prohibits export of beans, cassava tuber, maize, rice, yam tuber and all their products or derivatives.
The President, National Association of Yam Farmers, Processors and Marketers, Professor Simon Irtwange, said the association has earlier appealed to the federal government and the National Assembly, to expedite action on the repeal of the Export Prohibition Act of 1989, to enhance yam export.
Irtwange who double as Chairman, Technical Committee on Nigeria Yam Export Programme, called for speedy action on repealing the law so as to pave way for the diversification efforts and policies of the federal government.
He said there are Non Governmental Organisations willing to intervene in the Nigeria yam value chain with respect to yam exportation, but withdrew on learning about the Export Prohibition Act, 1989.
On Amendment Imperatives, he said the association have received information that there are some competitors in the United Kingdom that consider yam from Nigeria as contraband in view of the existence of the Export Prohibition Act, 1989.
“He said, “Nigeria yam is therefore being branded as Ghana yam. This is a minus for Nigeria. “The Export Prohibition Act of 1989 is the issue, but we have made a lot of efforts trying to advocate to relevant government agencies, ministries and the National Assembly that if we really want to diversify this economy, that law has to go.
“The Act which has been consolidated into the laws of the federation in 2004 has not been repealed, but the prohibition lift by the Consolidation Act usually employed by the Custom in deciding what should be exported and what should not be exported does not contain yam on the list.
“While we were in Ghana recently, we found out that there are only three agencies of government that are concerned with export, but in Nigeria, we are dealing with more than 20 agencies of government which is too much, that is why we are calling for collaboration between these agencies so that the number of signatures will be reduced”.
A yam farmer, Prince Yandev Amaabai said as long as the law is there, many people who want to go into the business will scared.
According to him, “Nigeria, which is by far the world’s largest producer of yams, accounting for over 70 to 76 per cent of the world production, producing 35.017 million tonnes of yams, going by the 2008 estimates, should do better than Ghana in the export market.
“There are too many restrictions on Nigeria yam export which has been discouraging farmers,” he averred.