Maize shortage looms over coronavirus lockdown

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Nigeria will experience maize shortage if the lockdown occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN) said it has become necessary to alert the Federal Government as maize farmers are unable to access their farms due to the lockdown and unavailability of inputs.

The association said it would be difficult to meet it’s target of 22 million metric tonnes for the 2020 season unless the federal government intervenes in maize production across the country.

The President of the association, Dr Bello Abubakar in an interview in Abuja said that due to the lockdown and the suspension of flight into the country, input being imported are held up.

“The problem affects every sector of the economy of the country but we are doing our best, we have written to the presidency through the Minister of Agriculture to alert them of the danger we are facing and let them know that they have to do something fast,” he said.

Dr Abubakar added that the government needs to provide some level of intervention such as inputs subsidy and ease movement of farmers to their farm so that they can meet the target for this year.

“They can assist farmers with inputs or any substantial subsidy so that the farmers can get some relief else the 2020 target of 22 million metric tons will not be achievable,” he said.

He appealed to government to set up a committee that can liaise with the commodity associations to get inputs directly to farmers; this he said was the best way to ensure that genuine farmers get the inputs as the commodity associations have comprehensive data of registered farmers.

The MAAN president also said local producers of inputs are also not finding it easy as the raw materials being used for production of these inputs are imported into the country.

He said the restriction of movement has made it difficult for members to go out and get inputs for planting.

He added that the wet season farming is already here, stressing if something is not done to address the situation, farmers will lose their source of livelihood.

The President noted that the lockdown in some parts of the country has also affected dry season maize farming because some farmers who planted in December were not able to access their farms for harvest.

Speaking on the price of maize, he said the effect of COVID-19 took a toll on the prices of maize in the market.

“Before the pandemic, a bag of maize was between N8,000 to N11,000 in the open market, but now the price has fallen,” he said.

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