VP’s Remarks At The Commissioning Of The Yam Storage Facility At Zaji Biam International Yam Market, Benue
REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE COMMISSIONING OF THE YAM STORAGE FACILITY AT ZAJI BIAM INTERNATIONAL YAM MARKET, BENUE, ON THE 9TH OF JUNE, 2020
I am very especially pleased to bring you today on this very special occasion of the commissioning and handing over ceremony of the Yam Storage facility at Zaki Biam International Yam Market, Benue State.
I also bring you the very warm greetings from Mr. President, who is very excited about this project especially, because a major concern for him has been that the COVID-19 crisis should not in any way, disturb agriculture, and the food supply chain. That we are able to commission this project in the midst of the pandemic is especially heart-warming for Mr. President.
The Zaki Biam International Yam market is probably the biggest yam market in the world because Nigeria is the largest producer of yams in the world. It accounts for sales of possibly 70% of yams that are cultivated in the country. Over 200 trucks loading close to 2 million tubers of yams go out of that market every week. However, the market has had very little storage capacity and its infrastructural facilities are way behind its capacity and the size of commerce that goes on there every day.
Apart from that, post-harvest losses have been a major problem of agricultural production in Nigeria. Nigeria produces 17 million tons of yams annually but loses up to 40% on account of inadequate storage and processing facilities.
Following discussions between the Federal Government’s MSME clinic project, the Benue State government and market stakeholders, it was unanimously agreed that this 200,000 capacity yam storage facility should be located right there in Zaki Biam Benue State, Nigeria’s undisputed food basket.
Perhaps, I should quickly explain the role of the Federal Government in this and similar projects. In 2016, Mr. President asked me to chair an initiative called the MSME Clinic. The idea was to provide a meeting point in every State between the regulatory or approving authorities; such as NAFDAC, SON, CAC, BOI, FIRS and Small and Medium Scale Businesses in every State.
So, at such an event, the MSMEs bring their problems and challenges to the regulatory authorities and the authorities can then offer on-the-spot services and advice to MSMEs. This includes advice even on how to access credit facilities through the Bank of Industry.
One of the initiatives of the clinics was the idea of building Shared facilities for the benefit of small and medium scale businesses operating within defined clusters. This is because most individual businesses cannot on their own, afford the equipment necessary for their businesses. So, for example for a cluster of tailors or shoemakers, the government will provide industrial equipment in a facility to be shared by all the tailors or shoemakers within those clusters.
This is the same principle here; a yam storage facility to be shared by yam farmers and sellers in this market. We have now functioning shared facilities in Oyo and Bauchi States. We plan to extend this to all states of the Federation where there are commercial clusters that require these types of facilities.
The shared facility is also an opportunity to improve the working and trading environment for small and medium-sized businesses. So, in this particular facility in Benue State, we have the following features, asides from the 2 Units of warehouses with a combined capacity to store 200,000 tubers of yam, there is:
- Re-construction of 660 units of stalls/sheds,
- Construction of a police and also a market administrative building,
- Construction of 8 units of public toilets,
- Provision of solar-powered borehole with an overhead tank,
- Construction of internal road with drainage,
- Installation of solar street lights is also a part of the full complement of what we have in this Zaki Biam International yam market.
So, let me thank the Hon Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and the Hon Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment. Their ministry is the anchor ministry for the MSME clinics and they have shown great dedication and commitment to the clinics and this project in particular.
I would like to commend the Governor of Benue State, His Excellency Dr. Samuel Ortom for his leadership, and the staunch support he has given to this project, and also to congratulate him on this commissioning of this project. This is a game-changing project.
One after the other, the Federal Government is fulfilling its obligations and promises to Benue State, and I noticed that His Excellency, the Governor, mentioned other promises made; we are taking it one at a time and here is one, Your Excellency, be happy and satisfied with this as we go on. Certainly, everything that we promised, we will do.
I also commend and congratulate our MSME Clinic partners and everyone that has worked to make this possible.
It is, therefore, my special pleasure to commission this 200,000 Capacity Yam Storage Facility at Zaki Biam Yam Market in Benue State on this day, 9th of June 2020 to the glory of the Almighty, and for the benefit of the people of Benue State, Nigeria, all Nigerians and all those around the world who will buy and eat Nigerian yams.
God bless you all.