It noted that the agitation by some associations, including the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), seeking the authorisation of maize import from the official foreign exchange market is seen as a calculated attempt to further hinder maize production in Nigeria.
President of the association, Bello Abubakar, who made this while addressing journalists in Abuja, stated that the importation of maize grains at this crucial period would serve as disincentive to maize production, farmers and food chain system.
He noted that the high price of maize grains is ephemeral as it is caused by the COVID- 19 pandemic that disrupted supply chains and increased the cost of input for farming.
He decried that the hoarding of maize grains by some commodity agents had 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”, he said.
“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.
“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.
“Government policies have worked effectively in closing the productivity gap in the crop farming subsector. This effort should be appreciated and sustained”, he added.
Corroborating this, National President, Maize Growers, Processors & Marketers’ Association of Nigeria, Edwin Uche, noted that any effort in importing maize will adversely affect the livelihood of the Nigerians, who depends on this income from maize farming, assuring that the association have developed a framework to ramp up maize production and bridge the gap existing in the maize value chain.
While commending the efforts of the federal government in sustaining the Anchor Borrowers program, he added that it has led to a significant increase in maize production across the country.
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
“A lot has happened since the covid-19 pandemic, in the past three 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”, he said.