Posted on September 29, 2017
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has said the Federal Government would not allow massive importation of maize by Olam Group next year.
Although the Minister stated that maize was not on the nation’s import ban prhibition list, he charged the company to work out how to grow the produce locally through backward integration, the way it had done with rice production.
Speaking to newsmen in his office, the Minister explained “Olam has gone into a very large poultry business and they ordered maize because maize is not banned yet. We haven’t really banned anything yet, not even rice; you can bring in rice as long as it passed through the ports and you pay the tax and levies. It’s the smuggling of rice that we don’t want.
“Olam brought in the maize and farmers have been complaining. I have met with them. I know they brought in the maize because they had challenges purchasing local maize but I will tell them, next year we won’t allow you do so. Develop an out growers programme like you’ve done for rice and let Nigerian farmers grow for you.
He identified the activities of middlemen, whom he alleged, hoard grains and made the prices prohibitive, as one of the main challenges faced in the sector.
“One of the issues that we are facing is hoarding by middlemen. I know in many warehouses in places like Funtua, Bokkos and Dawano market in Kano, huge warehouses are loaded with grains by some middlemen who believe that they were waiting for the price to rise to the sky before they can sell. So, the price of maize rose from N85,000 per tonne to N135,000. And poultry farmers were losing all their chickens; I keep poultry too, it has affected me.
“So, people started complaining but then you couldn’t persuade the farmer to put the maize in the market”, Ogbeh lamented.
Meanwhile, Commercial farmers had called on the Federal Government to probe Nigeria Customs Service and other agencies at the seaport over the alleged import of seven ship-loads of maize from India by Olam Group.
They described the importation by the leading manufacturing, trading and importation chain as a huge threat to the nation’s quest for food self-sufficiency, and urged it to bring those involved to book.