By Bukola Adewumi
Abuja, July 15, 2020 The Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN) has commended the Federal Government over the recent ban on maize importation into the country, while urging farmers to increase production capacity.
The President of the association, Dr Abubakar Bello said this on Wednesday at a news conference in Abuja as the association recounts the achievement of the last planting season.
Bello said that the association was targeting about 25 million metric tonnes of maize production in this year’s planting season, however, might suffer about 25 per cent reduction due to COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him, maize farmers have cultivated about 250,000 hectares of maize in this year’s wet season farming.
The national president said the CBN had released N16 billion for this year’s Anchor Borrowers Programme.
He said in the 2020 planting season, the CBN had supported the whole of value chain of maize production.
“From the provision of all needed inputs to land preparations to harvesting, aggregation and storage,” he said.
“This 2020 wet season programme, maize production of over 250,000 hectares of land have been cultivated by MAAN members only, with this and other partners, maize production would be doubled.
“To achieve this, the CBN has supported by providing high yielding maize seeds to all our members.
“With all these great steps being taken by government, the country can be self-sufficient in maize production in the next few months if we all believe in the capacity of our farmers and put our hands on the plough.
“We have done it before and we can achieve it again as it was done in 2005,” he said.
Bello said there was no need for any end-users to seek maize importation, stressing that “we are moving more into large dry season farming where we are sure that it will increase the availability of maize grains for all end users.’’
He said Maize Association of Nigeria was already engaging reputable commercial end-users of maize to enter into Memorandum of Understanding as off takers.
According to him, this is to make maize available and provide market for farmers under a fair-trade price to both sides.
He, however, appealed to states that have comparative advantage in maize production to partner with MAAN by providing large area of arable lands for cultivation by its members, saying that this would create more jobs and make life more meaningful to farmers.
“In order to sustain this great step taken by the government, grain farmers and merchants should not use the opportunity to unnecessarily increase the price of maize grain.
“We should also contribute our quota by maintaining reasonable prices. We wish to pray to Federal Government to kindly reactivate the Guarantee Minimum Price (GMP).
“This would give farmers confidence that no matter the situations as regardıng the cost of production and market forces, the farmers know the lest of price of his produce and to the end-users too will have instrument of bargain for price.
“Also, we advise serious entrepreneurs to establish maize processing plants to strengthen the value chain of the use of maize.
“To encourage the entrepreneur to do this, government should assist them in accessing machineries. More importantly, we plead that the CBN to provide soft and quick loan facility to interested entrepreneur to establish maize industries,” Bello said.