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-As Buhari unveils Maize Pyramids in Kaduna

By Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo

The Minister of Agriculture, Dr Mohammed. Mahmood Abubakar has said that the Anchor Borrowers program of the Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN) has been able to close the gap between the supply of maize grains and its a demand by domestic and industrial users.

The Minister who was represented by the North West Zonal Director Agriculture  Dr Timkat Vontav, spoke at the unveiling of Maize Pyramid by President Muhammadu Buhari in Kaduna on Thursday.

The Central Bank of Nigeria( CBN) however, said it had planned a more robust and timely wet season to commence in April 2022 for maize and other key commodities like rice, wheat, cassava, sorghum and soyabeans to mitigate the impending food crisis occasioned by the crisis in Russia and Ukraine.

Speaking further, the Minister of Agriculture expressed delight “to be invited to this epoch-making event of the Unveiling of Second Maize Pyramid by President Muhammadu Buhari, organized by the Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN) in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).”

According to him, “it is another consistent milestone investment achieving one of the core objectives of this administration which is for Nigeria to be food and nutritional secured. 2. There is no doubt the unveiling of this pyramid would tell the good story about Nigerian maize farmers with the support of Mr President through various support programmes such as Anchor Borrowers program of CBN has been able to close the gap between the supply of maize grains and its a demand by domestic and industrial users. The relentless efforts and support of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to diversify the economy through Agricultural sector which contributes almost 30% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is being manifested here today.”

He said  “it is pertinent to note that Nigeria is the largest producer of Maize in Africa and occupies the 11th position in the world with a large volume of the tonnage emanating from smallholder farmers (such as members of the Maize Association of Nigeria) that cultivates 1-5 hectares. Kaduna State is the highest producer of maize grains in Nigeria.

Therefore, holding the Unveiling event in Kaduna State is the right choice and I believe it will spore the state to perform better not only in maize production but other crops of importance. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) will also continue to support smallholder farmers as they have been identified as the engine room for the achievement of sufficient food production in Nigeria.”

” The Ministry has consistently strengthened the agricultural sector via different programs, among which include subsidizing the price of farm inputs such as seeds, chemicals, organic fertilizers, storage facilities as low as 10%, enhancing the technical knowledge of farmers. The Ministry in its inputs rollout activities in some states has distributed farm inputs free to farmers across the geopolitical zones of the country. I am glad to informed Kaduna farmers that it will soon your turn.”

” It should be recalled that before the advent of this administration, Nigeria was not self-sufficient in Maize production and had a demand and supply gap of over 5 million metric tons. However, with the support and intervention program of this present administration, Nigeria is able to close this gap and thus gradually paving way for the export of Maize to international markets.”

The minister explained that “the Federal Ministry of Agriculture is focused on ensuring that Maize farmers get required critical input (growth enhancers, seed, bio rational-pesticides, herbicides) and agro equipment, at an affordable price and at the right time for both wet and dry season to make Maize production all year round. All these efforts will help in our country’s diversification from an oil-dependent economy to agriculture and ensure job creation for the youths and self-sufficiency in maize production.”

“It is worthy to note that the unprecedented influx of investors, processors and marketers into the Maize industry will portents a positive outcome to grow of the industry and increase the tonnage of Maize production in Nigeria However, to achieve food and nutrition security in Nigeria, all concerned stakeholders must support the government in its efforts revolutionizing Agricultural sector,” he said.

Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele who was represented on the occasion by Mr Philip Yila Yusuf, Director,  Development Finance Department of the CBN, said he was delighted to be present at the auspicious occasion of unveiling the second maize pyramids in Nigeria and the official kick-off of 2022 maize wet season farming as promised during the unveiling of the mega rice pyramids in Abuja.

“Our can-do spirit is growing in leaps and bounds as we are gradually transcending the gains of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme beyond mere potentials.”

“Let me commence my address by acknowledging and thanking Mr President for honouring our invitation once again. You gave this assurance at the unveiling of the Mega Rice Pyramid in Abuja and the Maize Association of Nigeria are extremely delighted as your presence is an endorsement of their efforts to contribute to food security in Nigeria.”

“We launched the 1st maize pyramids in Katsina with a total of 300MT (displayed in 12 pyramids), the produce was strategically released to the market through allocation to major feed mills and large-scale poultry farms.”

“This strategic allocation assisted in moderating prices and ensuring steady supply to the major players in the market. The cost savings to these economic agents were enormous and it had a multiplier effect of the entire value chain.”

He said “the maize revolution was birthed over six years ago under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), with the overall objectives of facilitating food security by increasing local production of maize, safeguarding the activities of smallholder maize farmers, stimulating rapid economic recovery, enhancing rural livelihoods, increasing job opportunities through funding of smallholder farmers for Commodity Associations (CAs) and supporting Prime Anchors (PAs) to engage in backward integration for self-sufficiency and conservation of scarce Foreign  exchange.”

“Prior to the CBN’s initiation of the maize revolution under our Anchor Borrower Program, growth of maize production in Nigeria has been largely due to the increase in hectares of cultivated land and not the yields per hectare. The yield prior to 2016/2017 in Nigeria was as low as 1.8MT/Ha, considered as the lowest among the top 10 maize producers in Africa, behind countries such as Egypt and South Africa where the yields are 7.7 MT/Ha and 5.3MT/Ha, respectively.

This low yield resulted in the country’s inability to meet the domestic and industrial maize demand. To address the yield challenge, CBN developed a framework for the participation of some seed companies in the 2021 wet season farming under the ABP, to produce hybrid seeds that will guarantee a high yield for farmers under the programme. In addition, CBN is partnering with Flour Mills Nigeria and technical experts to introduce Good Agronomic Practices (GAP) through practical farm demonstration to farmers and extension workers, aimed at improving the yield of maize per hectare from an average of 2.5 tonnes per hectare to 6 tonnes per hectare.”

“It is gratifying to note that the nation’s maize production as at date is 12.2 million metric tonnes from 10.5 million metric tonnes in 2015 when the anchor borrowers’ programme commenced. This increased production is taken from the farmers as repayment for the loans and put in a strategic maize reserve.”

“The Strategic Maize Reserve (SMR) which was established in December 2020 as a short-term measure pending the revitalization of the Nigeria Commodity Exchange is meant to moderate the price of maize in the country through strategic and phased releases to millers and poultry farmers. This was in line with the Banks’ mandate of ensuring price stability and sustainable supply of maize to high demand industries. A total of 245,913MT was aggregated from the 2020 wet and dry season harvests from selected Prime Anchors, out of which a total of 232,898.55MT have been released. The volume of maize in these pyramids before us today is intended to serve as stock for the Strategic Maize Reserve (SMR) to be released immediately to major millers.”

“As we prepare for another wet season program, the Central Bank of Nigeria is committed to financing over 600,000 hectares. Our strategy is hinged on improving productivity by providing more funding for the anchors to enable them to utilize high quality inputs and good agronomic practices to boost output.”

“Bringing recent happenings globally into perspective, two of the top ten exporters of maize (Argentina and Brazil) experienced droughts in 2021, while another two (Ukraine and Russia) are at war. This will certainly impact on maize supply globally and drive prices northwards. Consequently, we have planned a more robust and timely wet season to commence in April 2022 for maize and other key commodities like rice, wheat, cassava, sorghum and soybeans to mitigate the impending food crisis occasioned by the crisis in Russia and Ukraine.”

“At this juncture, allow me to especially thank Governor Nasir El-rufai and the Kaduna State Government for their support and provision of the venue for this event.I wish to also commend all our partners, notably, The Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development, banks, commodity associations and prime anchors for their continued support for the ongoing agricultural revolution in Nigeria.”

“The Central Bank of Nigeria remains committed to the growth and development of the Nigerian economy as can be attested to by the numerous development finance interventions deployed to reduce the negative effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses and households,” he said.

Earlier in his remarks, President, Maize Association of Nigeria ( MAAN), Dr Bello Abubakar Annoor Funtua, appreciated the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR for giving farmers a new lease of life.

“Furthermore, is to thank the dynamic and resourceful Governor of the Central Bank of

Nigeria, Dr Godwin Emefiele CON for providing the enabling environment for smallholder farmers.

More importantly, Your Excellencies, today’s event will also; Demonstrate the capacity of MAAN in mobilizing Nigerian farmers to produce what

i. can sustain us and even export over a period of time.

Showcase a viable platform for loan disbursement, proper utilization to enhance repayment.”

“Pyramids of maize as symbolic flexibility of alternative repayment option.

iv. Official unveiling of these pyramids as genuine feedback to the present administration’s determination to lift many Nigerians out of extreme poverty and position agriculture as a business.”

“To also show that MAAN is not just supporting food security but food and nutrition security with the collaboration with HarvestPlus to promote the production and consumption of nutritious vitamin A maize in Nigeria.MAAN is truly Nigeria’s farmer’s hope.”

Ladies and gentlemen, what is being displayed here is a fraction of what has been produced by our farmers. We have more in our various warehouses across the country. There are 21 pyramids each constructed with between 30 – 79 trucks of maize.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Senators, Honorable Members, Royal Fathers, Ladies

and Gentlemen, achieving these feats have not been a bed of roses.

We all remember the COV1D-19 pandemic of 2019 and the security challenges caused by enemies of the nation, which has also affected the volume. This was a big challenge for food production, particularly maize farmers. Besides these, also was the sudden seizure of rain in 2020/2021 wet season. This is the effect of climate change and is beyond the control

of the farmers.

Despite these challenges and bearing in mind that money given for this farming is a loan, the resilient Nigerian maize farmers were able to produce what is being unveiled today. However, it is not just challenging, but great achievements have been made under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme. MAAN membership has increased greatly, able-bodied

young men and women are joining the Association, Through the Anchor Borrowers Programme, MAAN has acquired some mechanization equipment like tractors, combined harvesters (30nos), creating both direct and indirect jobs for our teeming youth. This is unprecedented in the history of commodity associations in Nigeria.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the event of today would not have been possible without the support of the unique and dynamic Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Development Finance Department. We call it the farmer’s department, please keep supporting us and we will continue feeding the nation.”

“Another great Institution that has made today’s event possible is the Association’s PFI, the

trusted and reliable Unity Bank PLC. The Bank has been a great partner in this movement. We thank you very much and will like to take this partnership to greater heights,” he said.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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