By Adelola Amihere
Against the backdrop of calls from some quarters especially by poultry farmers to the federal government to lift the ban on the importation of maize, the Maize Association of Nigeria(MAAN) and the Maize Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (MAGPAMAN) has warned that reversal of the ban would have a ripple effect on the growth of the maize value chain as well as cripple the livelihoods of millions of Nigerians who have been made better as a result of local production.
Poultry Association of Nigeria had urged the government to allow the importation of maize and ban its exportation so that they can have enough feed for their chicken.
The National President MAGPAMAN, Edwin Uche who stated this at a press briefing in Abuja noted that any effort in importing maize will adversely affect the livelihood of the Nigerians, who depends on this income from maize farming.
According to him, the Association of maize farmers have built up capacity to produce enough maize for both local consumption and industrial use, adding that the association production target for 2021 stands at 25 million metric tonnes.
He said, “If not for the impact of covid-19 we will not be talking about high price of maize, or increase in the price of maize derivatives, as an association we are looking for ways to ameliorate these issues.
“A lot has happened since the covid-19 pandemic, in the past 3 years we have had tremendous growth in the production of maize, as we recorded 20 million metric tonnes as at the end of 2020, through the Anchor Borrowers Program.
“This is an off-shoot of the effort of the federal government to ensure that agriculture remain the mainstay of the Nigerian economy and we are hopeful that with dry season and efforts to manage the covid-19, we would be able to produce at least 25 million Metric tonnes before the end of the year. In a little time, say in the next 3 months the price of maize will drop. “
Earlier in his address, the President, MAAN, Bello Abubakar pointed that importation of maize grains into the country at this crucial period will serve as disincentive to maize production, maize farmers and food chain system in the country.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) through the CBN has 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.
“Consequently, it is needless, counterproductive and unsustainable to lift ban on maize grains importation. We believe that not acceding to maize importation will aid not just attaining food security as a nation but also in creating job opportunities and fostering economic development as well, “he explained
Abubakar speaking further noted that the current high price of maize grains in the country is ephemeral as it is occasioned by the COVID 19 Pandemic that disrupted supply chains and increased the cost of inputs for many farming activities.
He also decried that the hoarding of maize grains by some commodity agents has resulted in artificial scarcity and attendant price hike.
“This has effect on commercial consumers that use maize as a key input in their production processes, like 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 pointed out.