Members of the Maize Growers and Processors Association of Nigeria are set to produce 23 million metric tonnes of maize this year, a 12 per cent rise from last year’s production, despite the problem of insecurity in the country.
The increase according to maize growers association, is due to cheaper credit from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which has helped to erace the high costs of fertiliser and diesel.
Maize, along with rice and wheat are the most consumed grains in Nigeria with manufacturers processing maize for cereals and livestock feed.
But some farmers in the so-called maize belt in northern Nigeria have been forced out of their farms due to attacks by Islamist insurgents and gunmen who kidnap people for ransom.
Speaking to to Reuters, the President of the Association, Edwin Chigozie said that central bank funding had helped farmers raise output, saying: “a lot of funds have been advanced to farmers using the Anchor Borrowers Programme (loan) of the Central Bank of Nigeria,” he said.
“I can tell you it has helped to scale up production, to scale up output because virtually every component of the value chain is being addressed, mechanisation, quality inputs, extension service.
“The Central Bank is supporting farmers with cheap credit in a bid to reduce grain imports it says drains scarce foreign exchange. Commercial banks are not keen to lend to farmers due to insecurity and a higher risk of default, Chigozie said.
“The 23 million tonnes will fall short of Nigeria’s annual requirement of 30 million tonnes and the gap will be filled with imports, he added. Production costs have increased for Nigerian farmers. A bag of fertiliser now costs up to N22,000 from N15,000 in 2021, Chigozie said. “The cost of cultivating one hectare of maize farm has gone up by 43 per cent.”