Maize: Farmers target cultivation of 250,000 hectares to bridge importation gap

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Maize farmers will cultivate about 250,000 hectares of land during the 2020 dry season farming, the National President, Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN), Dr. Bello Abubakar, said on Monday.

Abubakar said in Ibadan that this would enable farmers to improve maize production, bridge the gap in importation and reduce the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on the country.

He said the association secured a loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which supported it  with necessary inputs and mechanisation services that enabled its members to cultivate 120,000 hectares of land in the 2020 wet season.

Abubakar said the association also received support from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.

According to him, the association partnered the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and Harvestplus Nigeria, especially on the control of aflatoxin contamination on maize.

“The association is doing its best to educate farmers on the importance of maize production.

“We are at present into dry season farming in a commercial quantity in 2020.

“There is no shortfall in maize production in Nigeria, rather production increased by 100 per cent.

“In 2015, eight million tonnes were produced, but by 2019 it  increased to 20 million tonnes,” he said.

Abubakar said that the ban on maize importation would encourage farmers to increase production and reduce insecurity in Nigeria as jobs would be created through maize value chain.

This, he said, would increase the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and boost the economy.

The MAAN president said that farmers had never supported maize importation, adding that they could cultivate maize anywhere in the country.

“Importation will certainly discourage farmers from going back to farm and will never enable Nigeria to be self-sufficient in terms of food production,” he said.

Abubakar urged the Federal Government to improve its support to maize farmers in all aspect to enable them to achieve their goal of improving food production.

He also urged state governments to provide lands, irrigation facilities and other necessary supports for the farmers.

Abubakar also appealed to the Federal Government to review agriculture policy so that all relevant stakeholders could be involved in policy making.

He advised farmers to manage the inadequate rainfall in some part of the country including South West, while getting ready to replant during rainfall.

“We should see farming as a business.

“We should endeavor to go back to the farm and replant when rain falls.

“Farmers  getting the loan from CBN Anchor Borrower’s Programme should try to improve their production so as to pay back the loan and sustain the programme,” he said.

Abubakar commended the Federal Government for the ban on importation of maize.

He also hailed the CBN governor for supporting Nigerian farmers.