Nigeria’s maize import hits N146.8bn
A total of N146.8billion ($407.8 million) was spent by shippers to import 1.05 million tons of maize into the country in the last two years due to pests, which has led to drop in local production.
Currently, demand for the grain is 15.5million metric tons but total output as at 2017 is 10.5 million tons as the local price of maize jumped to between N120,000 and N135,000 per ton from N80,000 in 2016. Statistics gathered from the Nigerian Ports Authority’s (NPAs) shipping position revealed that the country imported 400,000 tons of the grain in 2017.
Also, 650,000 tons were brought into the country in 2016 to meet domestic and industrial demand. It was gathered that the price of the grain in the country is now competing with the global price of N138,240 ($388.4) per ton.
Already, the Federal Government is charging five per cent as tariff to enable poultry farmers and feed millers to bring the grain to the country.
According to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s statistics, the country’s domestic demand for maize is estimated at 15.5 million metric tons.
Also, a study by the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, explained that maize production in the country had been increased to 12.1million tons in 2017. However, there is fear this year that the production of the grain may further drop by 700,000 tons from 12.1million output recorded last year.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, Nigeria is the biggest corn producer in Africa after South Africa, whose 2017-18 output is estimated at 12 million tons.
However, apart from the scourge of armyworm, incessant imports of the grain have become a major challenge to maize production in Nigeria. It would be recalled that in the last quarter of 2017, Nigeria imported 649,943 tons of corn due to shortfall in local production.
The huge importation was traced to the invasion of armyworms, which have been ravaging the crop since 2015.
Last October, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)’s shipping position revealed that some 195,443 metric tons of corn where brought to the country through Lagos, Rivers Port, Calabar and Tincan ports. Also, 269,500 tons and 185,000 tons were imported last November and December respectively through the Lagos and Tincan ports.
Last year, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) rescued maize farmers through its Anchor Borrowers Programme following the invasion of armyworms in the country.
Already, farmers under the umbrella of Maize Growers, Processors and Markets Association of Nigeria (MAGPAMAN) had complained that they were facing a lot of challenges relating to armyworm, which had led to importation of corn to meet local demands.
Its President, Dr Edwin Uche, disclosed at the stakeholders meeting in Abuja that there would be adequate supply of corn to support market demands in 2018.
He said: “As an association, we are doing all we can to ensure that in 2018, maize farmers are able to grow enough maize to support the market.
That is why we are holding the stakeholders’ meeting. “Most private companies started importing corn to support their production because they all have production targets.”