In spite of tight import restriction by the Federal Government, a total of 500,000 tonnes of maize valued at N46.6billion ($95.19million) have been imported into the country this year by beverage, feed millers and other companies.
The import is 25 per cent more than the the 400,000 tonnes shipped into the country in 2019 and was 60 per cent more than the 200,000 tonnes imported in 2017 as a result of production shortfall.]
The country has capacity to produce only 11million tonnes of the cereal while consumption stands at 11.5million tonnes.
In June this year, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) asked banks to stop processing documents for maize imports into Nigeria with immediate effect.
The bank noted in a circular that it had resolved to boost local production, stimulate the economy and safeguard rural livelihoods lost as a result of COVID-19.
However, in September, four firms, Crown Flour Mills Limited, Wacot Limited, Chi Farms Limited and Premier Feed Mills Limited, received approval from Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to import 262,000 tonnes of maize.
In a circular titled: “Importation of corn and maize into the country signed by the service’s Deputy Comptroller General, Tariffs and Trade, Mairo Talatu, on behalf of the Comptroller General of Customs, Col Hameed Ali (rtd), the approval was for between August and October, 2020.
Findings from Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)’s shipping position revealed that shipment of maize had been on the increase.
As at December 27, 2020, the shipping data indicated that MV Desert Calm had arrived Calabar Port with 15,150metric tonnes of the cereal.
Already, beverages, feed millers and other companies have flooded Lagos and Calabar ports with 70,000 tonnes of maize valued at N6billion ($12million) in one week.
It was gathered that most of the cereal are being imported from Russia, United States, Brazil and India is used for beer, malt drinks, maize flakes, starch, syrup and dextrose.
In August, record by the authority’s shipping position explained that two vessels arrived at the with 53,950 tonnes of the cereal at theLagos Port Complex in Apapa.
At Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited (ABTL) of the port, Desert Grace arrived with 22,500 tonnes, while Izumo Hermes has also berthed with 31,450 tonnes at the terminal C and D of the port managed by ENL Consortium.
Also, Desert Grace, which berthed at Calabar Port, offloaded 16,000 tonnes of the cereal.
It would be recalled that CBN had supported 70,000 farmers with N13 billion for the 2020 wet season farming through its anchor borrower intervention.
Worried by the ban on maize import by the CBN, a former General Secretary of Poultry Association of Nigeria, Oyo state branch, Dr Segun Makanjuola, explained that the country had over 160million birds.
He noted that it cost N5, 000 to rear a chick, noting that it would translate N800billion yearly to feed the birds.
In 2019, import statistics by NPA’s shipping position revealed that the country imported 400,000 metric tonnes of the cereal last year.
The port data explained that two vessels, which berthed at Lagos and Calabar ports in December, 2019, with 25,200 tonnes were Eagle Star laden with13,200 tonnes at Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited (ABTL) of the Lagos Port, while MV Eternity C offloaded 12,000 tonnes at Calabar Port.