Nigerian government unveils maize pyramids amidst food scarcity
The Nigerian government on Thursday unveiled the second national maize pyramids in Kaduna State.
In his keynote address at the ceremony, President Muhammadu Buhari said the gesture is part of the objective of his administration for the country to be food and nutritionally secured.
The reality however is that food has remained one essential need that Nigerians are finding really difficult to get.
Some Nigerians have observed that the federal government’s new penchant for the display of pyramids was partly responsible for the escalation of food scarcity. They said the already scarce and costly food items were being bought and stashed away by government for the purpose of display. They said rice became more expensive after the display of rice pyramids by the government in Abuja recently.
Buhari, represented by the minister of agriculture, Dr Mohammed Abubakar, said the unveiling of the pyramid would tell the good story about the Nigerian maize farmer with the support of various support programmes like the Anchor borrowers’ programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which has helped in closing the gap between supply of maize grains and its demand by domestic and industrial users.
He said the relentless efforts and support of the administration to diversify the economy through the agricultural sector, which contributes almost 30 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), are being manifested.
He also said that Nigeria is the largest producer of maize in Africa and occupies the 11th position in the world with large volumes of the tonnage emanating from small-holder farmers who cultivate 1-5 hectares.
The president also said Kaduna State is the highest producer of maize grains in Nigeria, adding that holding the unveiling event in Kaduna is the right choice and believed it will spur the state to perform better not only in maize production but other crops of importance,” he said.
“The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) will also continue to support small-holder farmers as they have been identified as the engine room for the achievement of sufficient food Production in Nigeria,” he said.
He said the federal ministry of agriculture has strengthened the sector via different programmes, among which are subsidizing the price of farm inputs such as seeds, chemicals, organic fertilizers, storage facilities as low as 10 per cent, enhancing the technical knowledge of farmers.
“It should be recalled that before the advent of this administration, Nigeria was not self-sufficient in Maize production and had demand and supply gap of over 5 million metric tons.
In his remarks, the president, Maize Farmers Association of Nigeria (MAAN), Dr Bello Abubakar, said this demonstrates the capacity of MAAN in mobilizing Nigerian farmers to produce what can sustain Nigeria and export over a period of time.
He also said the gesture shows that the MAAN is not just supporting food security but food and nutrition security with the collaboration of Harvest Plus to promote the production and consumption of nutritious vitamin A maize in Nigeria.
In his remarks, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele, said in 2021 the 1st maize pyramids in Katsina with a total of 300MT (displayed in 12 pyramids), the produce was strategically released to the market through allocation to major feed mills and large-scale poultry farms.
The CBN governor, represented by Mr. Philip Yusuf, Director, Development Finance Department, said 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.
Also speaking, the governor of Kaduna state, Nasir El-rufai, said the state is the largest producer of maize in Nigeria, adding that agriculture is the only way Nigeria would achieve food security, create jobs, social inclusion and enhance livelihood.
Gov. El-rufai, represented by the state commissioner for agriculture, Alhaji Ibrahim Hussaini, said that the programme would change the narrative for producers, suppliers, service providers and consumers towards strengthening commercial agriculture.