Despite Import Intervention, Maize Remains N160,000/tonne
The importation of 262,000 tonnes of maize that was approved by the Federal Government to plug the production shortfall has failed to crash the price of the maize produced locally.
Findings on Wednesday showed that the price of one tonne of maize sold for N160,000 and had remained stable in the past four months.
Farmers under the aegis of Maize Growers and Processing Association of Nigeria said the 262,000 tonnes of imported maize would not crash the price of maize produced locally.
The president of the association, Dr Edwin Uche, said the price of maize had increased by 60 per cent from the pre-COVID-19 price of N100,000 per tonne due to the challenges faced by farmers during the lockdown in April.
He added that the farmers’ group was working hard and taking advantage of the government intervention to ensure maximum output and good quality maize were harvested.
He said, “Considering the volume that was approved for importation, we don’t see it really affecting the price as we expect the price to be a bit stable. We fought strongly to ensure that the importation is curtailed to some extent.
“The price of maize has been a bit high in the past four months due to the COVID-19 and associated challenges faced by farmers. There has been a slowdown in agricultural activities, which affected the output.
“We want to make sure that we sustain a price ceiling that will ensure that farmers will earn value for their farm activities.
“We don’t expect the farmers to cultivate without making profit. We expect them to make profit and be comfortable to support industrial production and other demands.”
The Central Bank of Nigeria recently extended foreign exchange restriction to importation of maize/corn, making it 44 items affected by its forex restriction policy.
The apex bank, in a circular to all authorised dealers and the general public, explained that the forex restriction on maize aimed to increase local production of the commodity, stimulate economic recovery, protect the livelihoods of rural farmers and provide employment.
After appeals from stakeholders, four companies were selected to import 262,000 tonnes of the products and allowed to source for foreign exchange through different banks.
Premier Feeds, Mills Wacot, Chi Farms and Crown Flour, were permitted by the government to shore up the supply for maize in the poultry industry through importation.
The President, Poultry Association of Nigeria, Ezekiel Ibrahim, said half of the 262,000 tonnes of maize imported into the country had already been used by maize processors.
According to him, the product which was imported by four companies that were approved by the government arrived earlier than expected.
He said, “We have used more than half of the products and we were even surprised that the products arrived early.”
The volume of the maize imported by the selected companies is about half of the annual maize imports of 400,000 tonnes into the country.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation had estimated Nigeria’s maize production for 2020 to be about 11.1 million tonnes, saying other importers were expected to import 400,000 tonnes to plug the production shortfall in the country.