Inaugurating the market, Yemi Osibanjo, vice-president of Nigeria, explained the strategic nature of the market. Osibanjo said, “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 per cent of yams that are cultivated in the country. More than 200 trucks loading close to two million tubers of yams go out of that market every week.”
“However, the market has 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 17mn tonnes of yams annually but loses up to 40 per cent on account of inadequate storage and processing facilities.”
The Zaki Biam Market comprises of facilities shared by the yam sellers and framers in the market and entailed the construction of 660 units of stalls/sheds; a police station; a market administrative building; solar; powered borehole; internal road with drainage; installation of solar street lights asides two units of warehouses with a combined capacity to the 200,000 tubers of yam.
“The shared facility is an opportunity to improve the working and trading environment for small and medium-sized businesses. This is because most individual businesses cannot, on their own, afford the equipment necessary for their businesses.”