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Farmers: Expect surge in prices, scarcity of maize in 2021

Following the fresh order by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) not to approve forex for food importation and in continuation of the apex bank’s ban on issuance of processing Form M for importation of maize, Nigerian farmers under the umbrella of Association of Farm Settlers have said there will be a further surge in prices and shortage in the supply of maize nationwide in 2021.

This, according to the Nigerian farmers, is due to the impact of bad weather relating to failed rainfall forecasts, flooding, COVID- 19 and lack of government input for agriculture. Stating this in a chat with New Telegraph, the Chairman of the Association of Farm Settlers, Alabi Kazeem, explained that members of the association lost millions in the 2020 planting season to lack of government support for agric sector, especially for maize farmers to aggressively cultivate abundant maize for Nigerian populace. This, he said, was in addition to the lack of farm implements and manpower, which made many farmers decide not to plant maize.

“Many of our members have decided not to plant maize again because of the poor and unstable rainfall. When they heard about government’s forecast through the meteorology department as well as the rigorous campaign from Oyo State Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, they thought there would be a lot of rainfall towards the end of October and November and sought for funds to plant maize. “It is very unfortunate that the failed forecast led to a staggering loss to our members.

They lost millions of bank loans and borrowings from family and friends used to plant the maize. Many cannot even pass by their farms to see the withered maize farms. We are so hurt by this occurrence.

“In as much as we are not blaming the federal and state governments for issuing flood alerts to safeguard lives and properties, including those of farmers, we are using this opportunity to appeal to them to support us. Our members are running from pillar to post to repay loans they took from banks and from individuals,” Kazeem said.

He raised the alarm that Nigerians would have to contend with skyrocketing prices of agro-allied commodities in the market as many farmers are in bankruptcy over inability to service loan repayment collected from Nigerian banks and others via the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP). “Our fear for now is what will be the fate of poor Nigerians that depend largely on basic food items that are sourced from maize. It is easy to predict that there will be scarcity of maize next year with what happened this year unless government quickly evolve a way out to assist farmers to surmount this problem, he said.

Already, the CBN through its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme released N16 billion for the farmers to boost maize farming in this year’s wet season. The association further called on President Muhammadu Buhari to develop new measures to assist farmers in determining weather forecast while providing basic support to genuine farmers. Speaking on the fresh ban by President Buhari, the National President, All Farmers Association of Farmers (AFAN), Kabir Ibrahim, said the ban on access to forex by the CBN in processing maize importation was meant for protection of the local market, but warned that insecurity has led to many farmers not going to their farms. Ibrahim said: “The ban on access to forex by the CBN in processing maize importation is what is referred to by the WTO as protectionism and is discouraged but in the circumstances Nigeria finds itself it is absolutely necessary to do so. “As the leader of AFAN, I deeply sympathise with the poultry industry but I should also protect the maize farmers from undue competition. I am a poultry farmer, as a matter of fact, a onetime PAN president but Nigeria is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea in the management of the food system today. “All livestock farmers are adversely affected by COVID19 as even wheat offal prices are astronomical today.”

 

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