Reactions to the recent directives by the Federal Government, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), banning importers of maize from accessing forex from the apex bank, have not abated.
Though, the CBN noted that the ban was necessitated to protect local production of maize, stimulate rapid economic recovery, safeguard rural livelihoods and increase job creation, which is the continuation of the policy of President Muhammadu Buhari to drive the country towards food sufficiency.
The Programme Director of the Lagos Business School Agribusiness programme, Dr Ikechukwu Kelikume, said that the recent directive could reverse the gains of CBN’s other interventions in agriculture.
He stated that the policy could further compound the woes of poultry farmers given that maize, which constitutes over 50 per cent of poultry feed content is currently very scarce, and where available, is very expensive, even as the price keeps rising.
But the Vice President Nigeria Agribusiness Group, NABG, Emmanuel Ijewere, said “if we want Nigeria to be self-sufficient in something as basic as maize, which can grow in all the 36 States of Nigeria, the only way you can do it is to cause the inconvenience for us to start doing things for ourselves by growing what we eat, unless we are able to do that we certainly as a nation will continue to be an import-depended nation.
“Nigeria can produce three times her requirement . I will thank the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, for this, but they should deliberately work hand-in-hand with the private sector who is indeed the one that would do the production of the maize.
“It is a good thing and I will salute their courage .
Nigeria can do it. We were told before that we are not capable of producing enough rice, and now we have more than enough rice. Now we want to produce enough maize and I believe that it is possible, beautiful idea, I support the idea and it is in best interest of Nigeria.
“But it is not an idea that will now start somewhere and along the line somebody will now be giving secret licenses to people to begin to import from United States or somewhere else.
“The Nigerian Customs Service should enforce the ban of maize the way it was done to rice on the land and sea borders, and the Ministry not giving shady licenses to people, we will survive.
“We have the capacity and the various farmers are prepared to do it provided there is a demand. The definite demand in terms of this is the kind of maize we want and this is how we want it, and the farmer will go for it.
“We have the ability, we are capable and we have people provided there is this deliberate attempt to create consciousness Nigeria will get there.
“The other danger here is that if we don’t do it now with the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, that is coming up other nations will do it and Nigeria will become a dumping ground. It is the biggest market in Africa before you know it all maize farmers in Africa will be looking up to Nigeria.
The Chief Executive Officer, Agrecourse Integrated Service Limited, Ayoola Oluga, said, “The decision by the Federal Government will certainly engender the local production of maize. Companies that imported maize previously may experience a slowdown in their operations in the short term, due to a shortage of raw materials.
“However, as local production of maize is boosted, things will begin to stabilize.
“Companies like Flour Mills, Nestle, and Olam will likely commence or expand their contract farming, in order to meet up with the quantity required for their production process.”
The Media Consultant of Santuscom Agro Hub, Ebriku John Friday, said, “It is a welcome development by the CBN to ban importation of maize. We support it because we believe it has been long overdue. We have enough farmers and existing farms that produce maize locally to meet our demand.
“Even though the price will go up our farmers deserve it because farming is business and we cannot be enriching other farmers outside the country and ours are living in poverty. Let our local industries and businesses that make use of maize patronize them.
“Maize remains all year round crop that is cultivated across the length and breadth of the country, and the demand is also there, and we can mobilize and motivate our farmers with the needed support to achieve high tonnage.
“The government and CBN also should support our farmers to grow more of the commodity and ensure there is that access to funding for backward integration.
“Let their capacity be built and the necessary technical support be provided to boost their productivity. We can do it and also export.
Members of the Maize Growers Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (MAGPAMAN), commended the apex bank for stopping maize importation to boost local production
The National President of the association, Dr Edwin Uche, said that the move by the apex bank to ban the importation of maize into the country was long overdue.
Uche said that the move would increase local production, stimulate rapid economic recovery by supporting smallholder farmers and safeguard rural livelihoods in the country.
“It will assist local farmers to get reasonable pricing for their efforts because we have the capacity to grow maize in this country instead of importing the commodity,” Uche added.
Miss Chima Udochi, a maize farmer said that the move demonstrated the Federal Government’s determination to return agriculture as the mainstay of the country’s economy.
“We the farmers have been expecting this ban on maize importation simply because when the right environment is created and the right support is given; farmers in Nigeria can grow sufficient maize for industrial use, local consumption and also for export,” she said.
Mr Alexander Okpanachi, the Chairman of the association in Kogi, commended the Federal Government for supporting maize farmers via the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme.
Okpanachi said that maize farmers in the state had been receiving support in the form of loans and farm inputs to grow their crops.
According to him, maize production and processing have not suffered any setback in the state largely due to this support from the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme.
Mr Mustapha Ahmadu, MAGPAMAN Chairman in Adamawa said that farmers across the maize value chain would experience a boost in maize production.
Ahmadu said that the ban would lead to high maize production to benefit players in the value chain.
According to him, with the support, the current price of maize which is between N165, 000 per tonnes and 175, 000 per tonne will reduce.