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Nigeria’s maize output likely to increase 50% in 2019, farmer’s body says

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Nigeria will this year increase corn output by as much as 9 million tons driven by increased farmers’ participation and hectarage, as well as a N6 billion investment from Kellogg’s, an American cereal maker, farmers’ body said.

This puts Nigeria’s corn production to about 20 million tons this year, up from 11 tons million from last year by US department of agriculture estimation. The Nigerian government official record says Nigeria produced 20 million tons of corn last year.

“We are increasing land cultivation by 2.3 million hectares to make a total of 6.3 million this year and we expect about 200,000 farmers to join our existing farmers cultivate those hectares. Bear in mind, we have more than 500,000 farmers producing maize in Nigeria,” Bello Abubakar, National President of the Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN), said by phone from Kaduna, the nation’s largest corn producing state.

“Right now we produce 4 tons per hectare and we expect that the addition of 2.25 million heatares will significantly boost our production,” he said, seeing increase in output reaching 9 million tons.

Increase in output is seen driven by Kellogg’s, the breakfast cereals producer, seeking to produce more than 10,000 tons of breakfast cereals annually in the West African nation, in partnership with the Nigerian food manufacturer, Tolaram Africa.

The American company last year launched a 6 billion naira factory that will see local production of breakfast cereals and snacks are handled in Nigeria; two years after paying about $450 million for a 50 percent stake in Multipro, a member of Tolaram group and the group’s premier sales and distribution company in Nigeria and Ghana.

“Kellogg’s’ investment is just one of the factors driving increase in production,” Irede Ajala, Senior Technical Adviser on Investment Promotion and Agribusiness to Audu Ogbeh, minister of agriculture said in the capital, Abuja.
“Maize is also heavily required for animal feeds and Olam in 2017 opened the largest animal feeds plant in Africa in Kaduna, coupled with maize being included in the anchor borrower’s programme,” Ajala said.
Although the Nigerian government has not signed any agreement with Kellogg’s to off-take corn from its farmers, it encourages “the states where the factories are located to have talks and agreements with the company in the best interests of their farmers,” according to Ajala.

Nigerian corn producer’s association said it sees growth in domestic demand for animal feed boosting corn outputs this year, on government’s policy to produce 50 million table eggs daily to halt dependency on eggs and corn imports introduced mid last 2018.

“As you know, Nigeria launched a plan to produce 50 million table eggs per day and that will definitely see a huge growth in corn production starting this year and we expect to see more in the coming years,” Miftah Adeniran, a member of the association said from Oyo state, where he has over 10,000 hectares cultivating cash crops such as corn, cashew and cassava.

Local farmers who begun harvesting this January said they are cultivating more than 6.3 million hectares this year, up from 4 million hectares from last year, on improved access to farm implements including planter, threshers, and harvesters provided from the anchors borrowers’ scheme, according Abubakar.
“We have a joint program with the Nigerian Central Bank and the ministry of agriculture that will help us increase productions in the number of hectares produced this year and we are happy with the numbers of farmers who are showing interest to produce maize this year,” Abubakar said.
If Nigeria meets it target, the oil dependent economy will overtake South Africa’s annual 15.5 million tons output as well as Indonesia’s 19 million tons and France’s 17.1 million, despite the country’s three year war with fall army worms.
Fall army worms in the last three years have ravaged hundreds of cornfields across Nigeria’s 36 states, affecting farmers’ yields but the government says there is an ongoing plan to fight the pest this year on new partnerships with international organisations including Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The Nigerian government late last year inaugurated a 23-member National Task Force Committee on fall army worm management and control, launching one of its own control strategies to curb the devastating effect of the pest in the country.
“The committee have started working on it already, and we have already taken serious action on army worm this year. And all the farmers know the problem of army worm has drastically come down,” Abubakar said.
Nigeria is eleventh largest producer of corn in the world, and Africa’s second largest corn producer after South Africa, according the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

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