Maize farmers and processors under the auspices of Maize Association of Nigeria, MAAN, Maize Growers, Farmers and Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAGFAMAN have, on Tuesday, condemned calls for maize importation into the country.
This was stated at a press conference by the National Presidents of the two associations, Dr. Bello Abubakar, and Dr. Edwin Uche, respectively.
Abubakar in his address pointed that the call was made by Poultry Association of Nigeria, PAN, seeking authorized dealers and the general public to import maize grain from the official foreign exchange market.
He said: “The agitation by some associations including the Poultry Association of Nigeria seeking Authorized Dealers and the General Public to import maize grain from the official foreign exchange market is seen as a calculated attempt to further hinder maize production in Nigeria.
“The current high price of maize grains in the country is ephemeral. It is occasioned by the COVID 19 Pandemic that disrupted supply chains and increased the cost of inputs for many farming activities.
“In addition, hoarding of maize grains by some commodity agents also resulted in artificial scarcity and attendant price hikes. This has an effect on commercial consumers that use maize as a key input in their production processes e.g. poultry farmers and consumer goods manufacturers. It is worthy of note that the COVID 19 Pandemic disrupted supply chains and increased the cost of inputs for many farming communities globally.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as part of her developmental functions, has been striving hard to increase national production volumes of maize. The CBN policy of agriculture, small and medium enterprise scheme, and the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) have been very successful in opening up the agricultural sector in the country.
“Both policies have worked effectively in closing the productivity gap in the crop farming subsector. This effort should be appreciated and sustained.’
He also pointed that the Federal Government through the CBN had graciously approved the release of 300,000MT of maize grains from the Strategic Grains Reserve (SGR) to ameliorate the adverse effect of maize grain price hike and scarcity in the country and that any move to import the commodity will be a disincentive to the maize industry.
“Consequently, it is needless, counterproductive, and unattainable to lift the ban on maize grains importation.
“Importation of maize grains into the country at this crucial period will serve as a disincentive to maize production, maize farmers and food chain system in the country”, he said.
However, he (Abubakar) disclosed that Poultry Farmers Association, PAN, have a Memoranda of Understanding, MoU, with his association, which they off-take maize from his members.
“We are working together with the poultry farmers association of Nigeria. Many poultry farmers are taking their maize from our association, and we have a Memoranda of Understanding with them under the Anchor Borrowers Programme.
“I have said it several times that it is not an issue that there is no maize in Nigeria, there is maize but they are complaining about the price which cannot be there forever; it is something that would not be more than one or two months.
“Before the end of the dry season the price will come down and when they exhausted it the one of the wet seasons will come on and the price will come and if they exercise patience they will get it.”
While answering questions, the National President, Maize Growers, Farmers, and Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAGFAMAN, Dr Edwin Uche, assured Nigerians that with the capacity of farmers demand by commercial and local consumers will be met with 25 million metric tonnes of maize before the end of 2021.
“A lot has happened been last year when we had issues of COVID-19 and this year, and we are all Nigerians and globally we know the effect of COVID-19 on food production and global economy.
“Within the last three years there has been triple production of maize and we have had a production of maize via the Anchor Borrowers Scheme; the CBN has invested so much in the Anchor Borrower, and we have moved from 8 million metric tonnes to 12 million metric tonnes to 15 million metric tonnes to and today we have moved to 20 million metric tonnes of maize production in the past three years and it is an offshoot of the federal government ensuring that agriculture is the bane of Nigeria’s economy, employer of labour and opportunity creator in our economy.