By James Emejo
The President, Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN), Dr. Bello Abubakar, has called on the federal government to provide palliatives for maize farmers to help them meet a 22 million metric tons target for the year.
He said the intervention was particularly necessary for the country to avert a food shortage resulting from the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
In an interview with journalists in Abuja, over the weekend, he noted that maize farmers had continued to express concerns over the inability to access their farms due to the lockdown and unavailability of inputs, especially the suspension of flight into the country which had also delayed importation of inputs.
Abubakar, further urged the government to set up a committee that can liaise with the commodity associations, to get inputs directly to farmers, saying this would ensure that genuine farmers get the needed inputs.
He added that commodity associations are better partners because they possess comprehensive data of registered farmers adding that local producers of inputs are not finding it easy as the raw materials being used for production of these inputs are also imported into the country.
He explained: “The problem affects every sector of the economy of the country but we are doing our best, we have written to the Minister of Agriculture to be forwarded to the presidency to alert them of the danger we are facing and let them know that they have to do something fast.
“They can assist farmers with inputs or any substantial subsidy so that the farmers can get some relief else the 2020 target of million metric tons will not be achievable.”
The MAAN president said the government needed to provide some level of intervention in form of inputs, subsidy and easy movement of farmers to their farms to enable them meet the target for the year.
He said COVID-19 had also affected the price of maize in the market, stressing that “before the pandemic a bag of maize was between N8,000 and N11,000 in the open market but now the price has fallen which means the farmer is making losses”.
He added that the restriction of movement had made it difficult for members to go out and get inputs for planting even though the wet season farming is already around the corner.