The exporters of yam to the UK and US have disputed the reports, initially aired by the Africa Independent Television (AIT), purporting that the yams exported after the official flag-off ceremony on June 29, 2017 were rejected at their export destinations. This has drawn widespread criticisms on various media platforms based on the misleading reports.
Mr. Michael Adedipe of ADES UK Foods and Drinks for the UK, whose warehouse was visited by AIT, has deplored the AIT report and other subsequent commentaries about rejection of his yams by the UK authorities. Adedipe has said emphatically that the consignment was not rejected but was cleared.
According to Adedipe, who confirmed that he spoke to AIT, he said, “I have watched the TV program which lasted for about two hours. All the positive stuff removed. We that decided to venture into this project are aware of the risks involved because, with fresh produce … we will expect five to 10 per cent damages. I don’t know why they said the product got rejected. I have sent my release note. I’ve sent video of loading. I’ve sent every documentation to say that there is no issue like that at all.”
On the spoilage of yam, Adedipe explained that, “the failure has nothing to do with the Ministry of Agriculture, but the Nigerian Ports Authority. That’s where I see the failure.” He expressed disgust at the mishandling of his comments by the AIT reporter; saying, “I told him, he is aware of it. He knew about the delay, I told him about all the consignment. He knew every single thing that happened. But what he did the most is to use all the negative stuff. We talked about other things. I told him how I came into the UK to go and fix our problem. All those were removed from the report.”
Adedipe, who has vowed not to stop yam export business, disclosed that, “the other mistake was the shipping line we used. But they were the ones that were available.” According to him, in spite of the sour experience with media report, “I’m willing to invest. I still expect…at least to take a container from Nigeria every week.”
Managing Director, Wan Nyikwagh Farms Nigeria Limited, Mr. Yandev Amaabai, has strongly disputed the yam rejection story and said it doesn’t even tally. “The story from AIT was focused on UK. So far, I am the only person who has lifted yam to the US. Whatever we can do to clarify this issue will be good. We learn as we progress. The whole idea that government brought was to diversify the economy.”
“Our yams were released to us and we took them to the stores. We sorted out our yams when they got there. We distributed them to the off-takers. So, where they got this story from, I don’t know. Nobody has ever called from anywhere, even in the US, to ask me any question. If a few yams got rotten, and I am not complaining, why are people crying more than the owner? I have all the papers. The Customs cleared my goods on the other side. And these things went to my warehouse from where we distributed.”
With all these prospects in view, the Honorable Minister expressed surprise at the negative news trailing his laudable effort at putting Nigeria on the global yam export market, saying “we are not going to stop because this is not enough to demoralize us. We have food to export. Never mind what so-called critics are doing.”
“In the Ministry of Agriculture,” he said, “we are not exporters. The Ministry does not export. We’re going to talk to the Port Authority on cooling vans for vegetables and fresh produce so that exporters don’t lose money and we don’t lose face. We should begin to build cold trucks that are temperature-controlled to keep the yams till the time they have to go. We should invest in special containers for their storage.”
Dr. Olukayode Oyeleye,
Special Adviser, Media & Communications
October 24, 2017