By Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it is committed to financing over 600,000 hectares for maize farming to improve productivity by providing more funding for the anchors borrowers to enable them to utilize high quality inputs and good agronomic practices to boost output.
The CBN governor Godwin Emefiele made the assertion in Kaduna during the unveiling of second national maize pyramid of Nigeria under the Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN) -CBN Anchor Borrower’s programme.
He said “As we prepare for another wet season program, the Central Bank of Nigeria is committed to financing over 600,000 hectares”, adding that their strategy is hinged on improving productivity by providing more funding for the anchors to enable them utilized high quality inputs and good agronomic practices to boost output.
“Bringing recent happenings globally into perspective, two of the top ten exporters of maize (Argentina and Brazil) experienced droughts in 2021, while another two (Ukraine and Russia) are at war.
“This will certainly impact on maize supply globally and drive prices northwards. Consequently, we have planned a more robust and timely wet season to commence in April 2022 for maize and other key commodities like rice, wheat, cassava, sorghum and Soya-beans to mitigate the impending food crisis occasioned by the crisis in Russia and Ukraine.
Earlier, CBN governor’s representative recalled that the 1st maize pyramids in Katsina, was launched in 2021 with a total of 300MT (displayed in 12 pyramids), saying the produce was strategically released to the market through allocation to major feed mills and large-scale poultry farms.
“This strategic allocation assisted in moderating prices and ensuring steady supply to the major players in the market. The cost savings to these economic agents were enormous and it had a multiplier effect of the entire value chain”, he noted.
He also stated that the maize revolution was birthed over six years ago under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), with the overall objectives of facilitating food security by increasing local production of maize, safeguarding the activities of smallholder maize farmers, stimulating rapid economic recovery, enhancing rural livelihoods, increasing job opportunities through funding of smallholder farmers for Commodity Associations (CAs) and supporting Prime Anchors (PAs) to engage in backward integration for self-sufficiency and conservation of scarce Foreign exchange.
“Prior to the CBN’s initiation of the maize revolution under our Anchor Borrower Program, growth of maize production in Nigeria has been largely due to the increase in hectares of cultivated land and not the yields per hectare.
“The yield prior to 2016/2017 in Nigeria was as low as 1.8MT/Ha, considered as the lowest among the top 10 maize producers in Africa, behind countries such as Egypt and South Africa where the yields are 7.7 MT/Ha and 5.3MT/Ha, respectively.
“This low yield resulted in the country’s inability to meet the domestic and industrial maize demand. To address the yield challenge, CBN developed a framework for the participation of some seed companies in the 2021 wet season farming under the ABP, to produce hybrid seeds that will guarantee high yield for farmers under the programme.
“In addition, CBN is partnering with Flour Mills Nigeria and technical experts to introduce Good Agronomic Practices (GAP) through practical farm demonstration to farmers and extension workers, aimed at improving the yield of maize per hectare from an average of 2.5 tonnes per hectare to 6 tonnes per hectare.
“It is gratifying to note that the nation’s maize production as at date is 12.2 million metric tonnes from 10.5 million metric tonnes in 2015 when the anchor borrowers’ programme commenced. This increased production is taken from the farmers as repayment for the loans and put in a strategic maize reserve.
“The Strategic Maize Reserve (SMR) which was established in December 2020 as a short-term measure pending the revitalization of the Nigeria Commodity Exchange is meant to moderate the price of maize in the country through strategic and phased releases to millers and poultry farmers. This was in line with the Banks’ mandate of ensuring price stability and sustainable supply of maize to high demand industries.
“A total of 245,913MT was aggregated from the 2020 wet and dry season harvests from selected Prime Anchors, out of which a total of 232,898.55MT have been released. The volume of maize in these pyramids before us today is intended to serve as stock for the Strategic Maize Reserve (SMR) to be released immediately to major millers”, he said.