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The association of maize farmers in Nigeria said its members have reduced their 25 million metric tons production target for 2020 by 30 per cent due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and insecurity in the country.

The chairman, Maize Association of Nigeria Nigeria (MAAN), Abubakar Bello Funtua, reportedly said this Wednesday while briefing journalists, BusinessDay newspaper reported.

The official said the 2020 farming season was faced with serious challenges due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and insecurity in the country, leading to more agricultural losses.

The association said the initial target of 25 million metric tons of production planned for 2020 planting season has been affected by the current situation in the country, forcing them to make a reduction in their target.

“Our target for the year 2020 planting season was 25 million metric tons, but with the prevalence of insecurity as well as the COVID-19 pandemic which has disrupted our activities, we had to make a 25/30 per cent reduction of this target,” Mr Funtua said.

Maize is a cereal crop that is grown widely throughout the world in a range of agroecological environments. Since its introduction to Africa in the 1500s, it has become one of Africa’s dominant food crops.

Nigeria’s annual need for maize is estimated at 15 million metric tons while the country’s local production is 10.5 million tones.

The association said they were able to produce about 20 million metric tons of maize in 2019, but expecting less this year due to the situation in the country.

With the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in Nigeria especially during the planting season, the sector has suffered a huge setback in terms of production. Farmers are scared of doing their normal planting work in order not to be infected by the disease.

As of Thursday, Nigeria had recorded a total of 34,259 confirmed cases with about 760 deaths.

PREMIUM TIMES had earlier reported how Nigeria’s importation of maize did not decline from 400,000 tonnes for two years despite calls by farmers for its restriction. Farmers have argued that they have the capacity to meet local demand.

A day after the report, the Central Bank of Nigeria on Monday placed a ban on the importation of maize. The decision according to CBN is to boost local production in the sector.

Meanwhile, Mr Funtua said the decision by the government to ban maize is good as it will benefit farmers in the sector immensely.

“This ban will bring immense benefits to maize farmers and other critical stakeholders,” he was quoted as saying. “This 2020 planting season, the CBN has supported the whole value chain of maize production. From the provision of all needed inputs to land preparations, to harvesting, aggregation and storage.”

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