As food shortage looms, Nigeria approves emergency importation of maize


The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has granted approval to four agro-processing companies to import 262,000 tons of maize and corn in the bid to complement an anticipated shortfall of the commodity in the country.

This was disclosed in an internal memo of the Nigeria Customs Service seen by this newspaper. The memo dated August 6, 2020, was endorsed by the deputy comptroller–general, T.M Isa (Tariff and Trade), which also was confirmed to this newspaper by the service’s public relations officer, Joseph Attah.

“In line with government policy on food security, sufficiency and striking a balance between food imports and local production capacities to meet anticipated shortfall, the Central Bank of Nigeria has granted approval for the underlisted companies to import maize in the quantities stated below,” the memo reads.

According to the memo with reference number: NCS/T&T/I&E/021/S.93/VOL, the apex bank granted approval to Wacot and Chi Farms Limited to import maize of 60,000 tons each, while Crown Flour Mills and Premier Feed Mills Company Limited will be importing maize of 22,000 and 120,000 tons respectively, within the period of these months (August, September and October).

“Note, approval is strictly for the four (4) companies listed above and stemmed to the months of August, September and October only,” the memo said.

“Given the clarification, all CACs are directed to note the companies, approved quantity, duration and jerque accordingly, ”

“Please be guided,” it concluded.

Data obtained from the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA), which was analysed by PREMIUM TIMES shows that Nigeria imported its second-largest volume of maize in a decade in 2019, maintaining the same level it recorded the previous year, despite calls by farmers for a restriction on the importation of the cereal.

The analysis shows that Nigeria imported 400,000 tons of maize in 2019, as it did in 2018, which is the second-highest volume imported by the country since 2009.

The highest was recorded in 2016 when 650,000 tons of maize was imported by the country.

However, Nigeria’s annual need for maize is estimated at 15 million metric tons while the country’s local production is 10.5 million tons.

A day after the report by this newspaper, on July 14, the CBN announced the ban of maize importation in an effort to boost local production.

Meanwhile, weeks after the CBN stopped the issuance of forex for the importation of maize, the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), conducted a market survey in Abuja and Akwa Ibom State.

Findings from the survey showed that the prices of poultry and fish feed have increased across the country.

Traders and farmers who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES attributed the hike in prices to the scarcity and sudden increase in the cost of the grain.

According to the survey, a 25kg bag of poultry feed called ‘starter’, that sold for N4,000 before, had risen to N4,200, while the feed meant for older birds, called ‘finisher’, was then sold for N4,000 from the previous price of N3700.

Also, a 15kg bag of Nigerian-made fish feed that sold for N7500 for 2mm, before the announcement of the policy, had increased to N8,100.

Similarly, the same amount of fish feed for 3mm fish size had increased from N6,300 to N7,500, while its 9mm equivalent had increased to N5,000 from N3,900.

As at 10:43 a.m Thursday, Isaac Okoroafor, the CBN spokesperson, could not be reached, as calls to his known phone number kept saying “the number you’ve dialed is switched off” repeatedly. Also, WhatsApp messages sent did not indicate the double tick delivery notification.

Source: Premium Times

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