Alhaji Bello Abubakar, National President of the Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN), has said it has been able to create 100,000 on-farm and off-farm jobs in 19 states through the implementation of the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).
Speaking with newsmen in Abuja on Sunday, he said the government should place a ban on the importation of corn into the country.
Abubakar hinged his call for a seizure of importation of the crop on the fact that the country had consistently produced more maize than the capacity of all the processing plants in the country.
According to him, the processing capacity of maize in Nigeria is eight million tonnes and the farmers produced 15 million. He noted that they have been able to produce five million tonnes more in 2018.
His words: "Our last year’s production was 15 million tonnes and this year, we produced 20 million tonnes of maize and the required quantity for all maize processors in Nigeria is about eight million tonnes.
“Government intervention in the agricultural sector has put in place the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) to encourage local production of agricultural commodities including maize. MAAN is executing the ABP in 19 states which has empowered about 100,000 on and off-farm employment.
“This contribution of MAAN, if complemented by other large scale maize grain users, will create more than one million on- and off-farm employment in the maize value chain. Reacting to a publication by the Nigeria Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) that it received a request for licence from a firm called Grand Cereal to import maize into the country, Abubakar said such moves were counterproductive.
“We request that the importation of maize grain in any form is considered counter-productive to agricultural development in Nigeria and should be discouraged in its entirety."
Rufus Ebegba, Director-General of NBMA, confirmed the receipt of a request for licence to import maize into the country, but said no permission had been granted.
Responding to questions on corn crop devastation by army worms last year, Abubakar said farmers were better equipped to deal with the menace this time round.
“Members of MAAN were trained and pesticides, fertiliser, seeds were given to them by the Federal Government and FAO to manage the pest. This year, there is no infestation of armyworm like last year," he said.
According to NAN, Abubakar appealed to companies involved in maize importation to provide their preferred maize seedlings to local farmers to grow, to encourage production of improved varieties.
The association is made up of researchers, imput suppliers, marketers and every other stakeholder in the maize value chain.