LAGOS – The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in January 2021 announced that about 300,000 metric tonnes of maize were ready for supply from strategic anchors under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), which would reduce the high price of maize from N155,000 per metric tonne.
According to the apex bank, the planned release followed a move by the critical stakeholders working with relevant government agencies to put a halt to reprehensible and speculative activities of middlemen and bandits.
It was expected that the price of maize would drop significantly, thereby increasing demand for the crop and ultimately enhancing the gains of maize farmers.
Stakeholders in separate interviews with DAILY INDEPENDENT on this issue commended the CBN on the move stating that it would in no small measure contribute significantly to the poultry industry in the area of sustainability, job retention and that Nigerians would have access to cheaper protein through chicken.
Emmanuel Ijewere, Vice President of the Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), said maize and soya make over 80 percent of the cost of growing a chicken, that the high price has driven most poultry farmers out of business.
He stated that the cost of feed is high, and it is cascading to chicken which people are buying in the market.
He said that CBN needs to roll back to ensure that there is effort to increase the quantity that is produced by hectare, that Nigeria has the lowest yield in the world.
“The cost of feed is so, and this is cascading to chicken which people are buying in the market and protein has been challenged. What the CBN is doing is good, they need to roll back to ensure that there is effort to increase the quantity that is produced by hectare. Nigeria has the lowest yield in the world; it shows inefficiency in our system.
“We also need to reduce the amount of wastage that is lost through diseases like aflatoxin after it has been harvested. These are things that have to be done, all these have a way of affecting the cost of chicken in the market,” he said
Ijewere, who is also a stakeholder in the poultry sector, said with the intervention, poultry products would be cheaper and it would enable an average Nigeria to buy chicken and be able to eat chicken more readily.
He, thereby, appealed that something should be done to improve what the country is doing presently in the area of maize production per hectrage.
According to Ayodeji Balogun, CEO, AFEX Commodities Exchange one of the players facilitating the release of the grains, stated that by facilitating the release of the 300,000 metric tonnes of maize, leveraging support from credible players in the ecosystem including his team at AFEX, the CBN will offer over 35,000 farmers and agro-processors a channel through which they can trade maize at a subsidized rate, and thereby reducing the adverse effect of the maize price hike, increase local demand, and improve farmers’ livelihoods.
“With maize being a core food basket, the allocation of the commodity to smallholder farmers, prime anchors such as Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Flour Mills, Livestock and Feeds processors, will create a sustainable availability and pricing structure in the market, reducing maize prices and bridging the supply gap and scarcity in the national and local market regions,” he said.
Bello Abubakar, National President Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN) commended the CBN for the development, stating that the apex bank have always been in support of agric production and food security in the country.
According to him, “This is part of the efforts they are doing also in order to assist Nigerian farmers and processors in the country. We are in total support and we appreciate what they are trying to do because it will also encourage us to produce more,” he said.
Abubakar said that the Anchors Borrowers Programme is also very good and supportive to farmers.
“If you look at the production from 2015 till date, it has increased to about 100 percent even more in this country because of the support they are providing for the farmers especially maize farmers in Nigeria.
“Maize farmers have really enjoyed and benefited not only through commodity association, even in other maize value chains, they have benefitted from the CBN we must commend them,” he added.
Austin Daylop, Group Managing Director, Premier Feeds Limited, while speaking on the impact of the intervention, said: “we are encouraged with this intervention effort by the CBN and have witnessed how it has helped to ameliorate rising market prices for maize.
This is a positive start in finding lasting solutions to critical national concern.
He, thereby, called on all concerned, be it government and other stakeholders to come to the roundtable and work for a sustainable solution, if the challenge of food prices would really be solved.
Arc Kabir Ibrahim, President All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) also commended the CBN, stating that the initiative is a good one that it would definitely help farmers especially the poultry farmers.
Dr Opeyemi Agbato, an Executive Director at Animal Care applauded the CBN for the initiative, stating that the direct allocation and release of maize to key feed millers under the CBN’s Strategic Maize Reserve programme was a much-needed intervention.
“They made true to their words and pronouncements of release. It was unfortunate that the release coincided with a time when the prices of SoyBeans Seeds which by-product is a critical source of protein in poultry feed experienced an astronomical increase mostly due to rapid exportation.
Agbato, who is also the PRO for the Ogun state chapter of PAN said even though there is a dire need for foreign exchange in the country, Soy is insufficient for local use and that current exportation is at the detriment of local livestock farmers, particularly poultry farmers.
“We hope that in the future, more strategic holding and release facilities for maize would be made available in all regions for ease of accessibility and reduction in the cost of transportation. With the current state of food security in the nation; skyrocketing prices of eggs and other essential foods, we hope that the price of subsequent maize release, would be further reduced to as low as N135,000 to 145,000 per metric tonne or about 30 to 35 percent lower than prevailing prices landed to the consumers to force the drop in prices of maize and cost of producing animal feed and food.
“Nevertheless, we deeply commend the initiative as it kept many afloat” he added.
However, Ezekiel Ibrahim Mam, National President, Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), appealed to the government and every other stakeholder to ensure food security.
“My appeal is that the government should allow importation of maize through PAN, we know our major stakeholders that would get them involved in importing this product.
“We are appealing that when they allow this importation, they should remove all tariff charges because already the price of grains outside the shore of this country is high.
“It is a global phenomenon so if they remove the tariff because already our naira has been greatly devalued; let them endeavour to give us sufficient exchange rate; they are not doing us a favour, but we want to partner with them to ensure that we have food security in the country.
“We are appealing to them, let us corporate, no single individual can do it alone; there must be synergy and collaboration. We should work as a team not as competitors, nobody is competing with one another, rather we should complement one another,” he added.
It would be recalled that CBN made the release to forestall the pressure and reduce the activities of intermediaries (middlemen) in the Nigerian Maize market.
The current shortfall in the quantity of maize available in the market, that CBN is working on mitigating, is attributed to activities of banditry, drought in some parts of the country last year, activities of hoarders and middlemen as well as insecurity around the major maize producing belt of Niger, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and part of Kano states.
As part of the Bank’s financing framework, the CBN facilitates the funding of maize farmers and processors through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) Commodity Association, Private/ Prime Anchors, State Governments, Maize Aggregation Scheme (MAS), and the Commercial Agricultural