The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has approved the release of 50,000 metric tonnes of maize to 12 major producers to control the price of the commodity.
The bank said yesterday that the latest rollout of the commodity from the Strategic Maize Reserve (SMR) under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) to companies would be the third intervention by the CBN in recent times.
It stated that the release of the grains is aimed at checkmating the activities of middlemen hoarding the product to cause artificial scarcity.
CBN spokesman, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, confirmed the release of the grains in a statement yesterday and expressed optimism that the release would crash the price of maize, reduce pressure on the market, and make the product directly available to feed producers, thereby reducing the price of poultry feed.
He added that as part of the bank’s financing framework, the CBN would continue to facilitate the funding of maize farmers and processors through the ABP commodity association, private/prime anchors, and state governments, Maize Aggregation Scheme (MAS) as well as the Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS).
According to the statement, the identified recipients of the grains included Premier Flour Mills, Crown-Olam, Grand Cereals, Animal Care, Amobyn and Hybrid Feeds.
Others are Obasanjo Farms, Zartech, Wacot, Sayeed Farms, Pandagri Novum and Premium Farms.
Reacting to the development, the National President of the Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN), Dr. Bello Abubakar, urged middlemen to desist from taking advantage of the supply gap to hike the price of the commodity.
He assured the people that farmers will maintain reasonable pricing regime of the products.
The apex bank had while responding to the activities of middlemen earlier in January, released 300,000 metric tonnes of maize, a move which led to the reduction in the price of the commodity.
Also, the bank, in a renewed move to address the rising cost of food prices in the market partnered with the Rice farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) to distribute 27,000 metric tonnes of rice paddies directly to millers last week.
The direct allocation from RIFAN warehouses across 16 states of the federation followed the earlier sale of paddy aggregated as loan repayment under the ABP to millers from the rice pyramids unveiled in Niger, Kebbi, Gombe and Ekiti States.
Earlier in February, maize farmers had criticised agitations by some groups for the importation of the commodity, describing it as a calculated attempt to further hinder maize production in the country.
They, however, said with current improvement in local production capacity and funding support from the CBN, under its Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP), as well as expectations that the COVID-19 pandemic will be better managed globally, the country should be able to achieve at least 25 million metric tonnes (MMT) before the end of the year.
They added that in the short-term, the price of maize, which had hit the roof in recent times, will drop within three to four months with the modalities put in place to achieve price reduction.
Also, the National President of MAGPAMAN, Dr. Edwin Oche, had stated that the CBN’s massive investment in ABP had boosted maize production from eight million metric tonnes to about 20 million metric tonnes within three years.
He said local farmers had the capacity to grow enough maize to support both industrial use and local consumption.
He had said: “Today, we shouldn’t have been discussing this if not for the challenges encountered during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If not for the advent of COVID-19 that affected food chains and production as well as agriculture as a whole both locally and internationally, we will not be talking about the price increase in maize per bag. We will not be talking about the increase in feeds, flour and all the derivatives from maize and others.
“It’s a global issue and as an association, we are dealing with it and strategically looking at the ways to ameliorate the problem by engaging the federal government and CBN and other partners to ensure we come out of it.”