As various communities in Imo celebrate the 2009 `Iri Ji’ festival, the state government has said that it would identify with only those celebrating the indigenous variety.
Chief Longers Anyanwu, the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, disclosed the governmentâ€™s position in Owerri on Saturday while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Anyanwu explained that the decision was aimed at ensuring that communities planted the indigenous variety of yams which, according to him are more nutritious and palatable than others.
He underscored the importance of the `Iri Ji’ festival in Igbo land and stressed the need to preserve the tradition without any adulteration.
Anyanwu declared:“Any traditional ruler who wants me or any other official to attend the festival, must invite me to witness the planting of the yam and that is the beginning.
“Secondly, we have our native sweet yams and all these nutritious ones we must exhibit during the ceremony.
“I will not attend any occasion this season where I will celebrate new yams harvested from other places.
“As the number one farmer in the state, I want to celebrate yams harvested by my own farmers,” he stressed.
He therefore charged farmers in the state to produce and sell yam species indigenous to Imo to people from other geo-political zones “so that they can enjoy our high quality yams”.