Maize Importation, Many farmers are forecasting a fall in the quantum of maize production this year for one reason: massive importation. They said this has led to a fall in the price of the locally produced variety.
Cheap auction maize importation from the US, Ukraine and other countries has already taken a toll on Nigerian farmers as it has crashed the price of maize produced locally.
In addition, some stakeholders in the industry believe some feed processors abuse the window the Federal Government provided as intervention and imported more maize than they needed.
Daily Trust investigation across maize-producing states revealed that farmers have surplus maize yet to be sold in addition to poor price; something that many said will discourage them from massive production this season.
In most parts of Yobe State, 100kg bag of maize is sold between N9000 to N9500, as against over N14,000 sold the same time last year.
The story is nearly the same in Sokoto where a 100kg bag of maize sells between N11,500 and N12,000 as against last year’s price of N14,000.
A farmer and grains dealer, Malam Abubakar Dange, attributed the situation to a glut of the produce as some of the companies that usually buy maize in large quantities in the area no longer do so.
In Kogi, a check by Daily Trust at the Lokoja International Market indicate that the cost of maize has crashed down greatly when compared to that of last year.
A maize trader, Mrs Teni Wakili told our correspondent that a 100 kg bag of maize which sold between 17,000 and N17,500 last year now sells between N10,000 and N10,500.
Teni complained that customers were not coming despite the cheap price of maize.
The situation in Kaduna, one of the largest producers, is worst as the price has collapsed from N14,000 to N8,000 per 100kg.
The chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) Kaduna State Chapter, Alhaji Nuhu Aminu, said, “It is unfortunate that the price of maize has dropped compared to how it was sold last year 2016/17. Many farmers however cultivated a lot of crops thinking the price will remain high.
Our correspondent in Makurdi reports that a 100kg bag of maize presently sells for between N11,000 and N12,000 in markets across the state capital of Makurdi as against between N18,000 and N17,000 which it was sold at this time last year.
Our investigation in Kano also revealed that grain markets in the state are currently flooded with maize because of supply from Niger, Katsina and Kaduna states – something Alhaji Danliti Muhammed, a trader attributed to large production.
However, Alhaji Abdulrasheed Magaji Rimingado, chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) Kano branch, opined that huge importation of maize from foreign countries crashed the price of the commodity in the local market and rendered a lot of farmers helpless as they couldn’t compete with the price of the imported variety.
Alhaji Rimingado stressed that the imported produce has made market price unfavourable to the farmers, as 100kg now sells at N11,000 as against N16,000 sold last year.
“We were told that, the market is presently expecting about seven ships loaded with maize into Nigeria. The AFAN leadership both at state and federal levels have made several attempts to intimate the authorities concerned on the dangers of such move,” lamented the state AFAN chairman.
In Jigawa, Katsina, Niger and Nasarawa states, Daily Trust findings showed the price of maize is presently between N9,500 and N11,000 as against between N13,000 and N19,000 in 2016/17 season.
One of the notable farmers in Funtua, Katsina State, expressed fears that if the price does not improve, it might discourage farmers from growing the commodity this year.
Malam Isah Mahmud, one of the farmers in Sabon Wuse, Niger State attributed the drop in price to high production of maize last year.
Farmers in the state also attributed the unfavourable price to massive production of maize last year coupled with the activities of grains importers.
Experts who spoke with daily Trust maintained that the country must take steps to sustain the success recorded in agriculture in the last few years.
Dr Aliyu Samaila, an agric economist, explained that while the price of a 100kg bag of maize was currently between N9,000 and N9,500, the same bag cost N3,800 three years ago, and still a welcome development for the farmers.
“You had to sell two bags of maize to be able to buy a bag of fertiliser, but now you sell a bag of maize and buy a bag of fertiliser and still have surplus which means there is progress,” he said.
The expert pointed out that Nigeria was producing about 10 million MT in 2010 but production dropped to about 7 million MT, with companies like OLAM factory in Kaduna alone requiring about 300, 000MT per annum.
Sources within the Olam company admitted that the company and some others used the window period provided by the government to import maize for birds consumptions last year but that they had since stop in line with the federal government’s directive.
Another agric expert, Dr Hakeem Ajeigbe, maintained that Nigeria had the capacity to produce its maize requirement.
“If we want to keep our people employed in agriculture, then we have to protect them and one of the ways to do that is to reduce importation except if we want to provide jobs for people in other countries,” he stated.
The expert advised government to peg custom duty on maize importation at 100% in order to stimulate production and protect local farmers.