By Moses Uwagbale
After the stopping foreign exchange for maize importation, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) reported it would intensify support to farmers to meet the production of 12.5 million metric tons of maize in the country in the next 18 months.
Mr Yusuf Yila, Head, Development Finance Department, CBN, said this at the stakeholders’ meeting of Maize Growers Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (MAGPAMAN).
The meeting focused on strategies for effective implementation of 2020 wet season CBN-MAIZE Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).
Represented by Mr Elennor Ihua, Maize Champion, Development Finance Department, CBN, Yila said that increased support was crucial in driving maize value chain in the country.
According to him, CBN is committed to ensuring that maize is a focal commodity in Nigeria.
“CBN is passionate about maize as a commodity and we believe that there is immense opportunity in that crop and Nigeria has a comparative advantage to produce maize that will not only sustain the country but can be exported.
“It is on that premise that the CBN resolved and decided to pursue the support of the maize initiatives.
“Just this 2020 wet season farming, our total pursuit and target that we have met is 250, 000 hectares across the country and MAGPAMAN coming for the first time has taken about 70 000.
“We have a mandate to ensure there is no maize scarcity in this country and to grow maize production in this country. So, our target for the dry season is that we are going to double that number.
“In the next 18 months from this dry season, our target is to do 2.5 million hectares of land of maize in this country.
“It means in the next 18 months, our projection for production is 12.5 million metric tons of maize and we believe with that and the other production around the country Nigeria will be self-sustainable in maize production,’’ Yila said.
On his part, Mr Inuwa Ibrahim, the Senior Commercial Officer, Commodities and Export Department, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, described the move as laudable, especially at a time the country was diversifying its economy.
Ibrahim stressed the ministry’s commitment to partner with commodity associations that were determined to promote food security in the country.
He urged the maize farmers to leverage on the CBN ABP support to prove they could produce for local demand.
The National President of MAGPAMAN, Dr Edwin Uche, said that the association had received support worth N13 billion from CBN for the 2020 wet season farming.
Uche urged the maize farmers to take advantage of the programme to improve maize production and be able to pay back the loan.
“MAGPAMAN has received N13 billion for the wet season maize anchor borrower programme for 70, 000 farmers.
“It is a programme that provides farmers access to finance, technology and mechanisation and virtually to all key component of the value chain,’’ he said.
While commending the Federal Government for its policies in agriculture, Uche said that the CBN-MAIZE ABP had profited the association immensely.
“Our farmers have gotten their inputs and they have also received their cash components. They are farming and activities are going on and we are working to address gaps where necessary.
“Maize is one of the commodities that can pull people out of poverty, it has a short life span, short gestation period and you can do it two or three times a year, so what is an unemployed graduate doing when he can make a lot of money from it,’’ Uche said.
One of the partners, Eco Bank, urged the farmers to regularise their accounts to fast-track easy access to the loan.
According to Rita Ademola, the Regional Manager, North of the bank, it is a key factor in speeding up the process of getting inputs in time.
Some of the beneficiaries said that the programme had aided in boosting maize production in their states.
Chief Eberechi Orji, the Chairman MAGPAMAN, Ebonyi said the programme supported farmers in the state to move from subsistence farming to commercial purpose.
Similarly, Prince Adefioye Hammed, Chairman, MAGPAMAN, Ogun, said that the programme provided farmers with the right seeds, chemicals, extension services and technical inputs to grow their crops.
Alhaji Allamin Npom, State Chairman, MAGPAMAN, Borno, said that the state had received about 70 per cent farming inputs, adding that the programme had also provided opportunities for more youths to be engaged in farming in the state.