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Self sufficiency in maize production; The Corteva agriscience contribution

Given both the growing population and the impact felt from the pandemic, the need to improve food security in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. Maize is…

Given both the growing population and the impact felt from the pandemic, the need to improve food security in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized.

Maize is one of the most important agricultural commodities with an average local supply of about 10.5 million metric tons per annum with a demand of 15 million metric tons, leaving a supply-demand gap of 4.5 million tons per annum, according to data from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Nigeria.

The nationwide demand for low cost, convenient staple foods for human consumption as well as livestock is increasing, therefore the country is in dire need to accelerate local production.

 

The Federal Government in conjunction with Maize Farmers Association of Nigeria (MAAN) and The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers Programme on maize farming is an initiative which has been set up to boost maize production by involving the grassroots maize farmers in all local governments in Nigeria to produce enough for local consumption and for export.

 

This is an example of how collaborative actions can produce more impactful results. It has therefore become imperative for all stakeholders in this value chain to work together in scaling up local production in a more systemic and sustainable manner and that is why a number of seed companies including Corteva Agriscience have been consistently working to increase maize yields in Nigeria through its Pioneer brand hybrid seeds by collaborating with both the government and private industry players to develop maize hybrid seed in Nigeria through demo plots, agronomy trainings, extension services, outgrower schemes and farming partnerships.

 

Corteva Agriscience through its initiatives is seen as a partner of progress in achieving the government’s objective of the Nation attaining self-sufficiency in the maize value chain, playing an active role in the solution, beyond the distribution and sales of hybrid maize seeds for grain production but in the drive to increase farmer profitability through giving technical support to the farmers and increasing the supply of locally grown foundation seeds.

 

Corteva, in alignment with the Government local content objectives, has piloted seed production sites in Kano, Kaduna and Nasarawa state with a combined hectarage of 20 hectares and average seed yield of 4.5MT per hectare with the goal of scaling these efforts year in year out.

 

As a matter of hindsight, this is a continuation of the parent seeds testing that was done in 2018 and 2019. These efforts are also focused on building the capacities of Nigerian agronomists to be expert in seed production, ensuring real time supply of quality certified seeds of maize hybrid adapted to our environment into the Nigeria seed industry and to assure farmers that commercial seeds that are produced in Nigeria can yield as much as the same imported seeds.

 

To showcase the efficacy of the Pioneer Hybrid Maize seeds, twenty-Five Demonstration Plots are established by Coretva Agriscience each year since 2015 across about 10 states in the different geo-political zones of the federation and they serve as field schools in training farmers in maize agronomy, from land preparation to harvesting.

The Company also avails a platform of linkage to the farmers to output market such as the livestock and breweries industries. In this particular initiative, alliances and collaboration were established with Golden Agri-Inputs (a subsidiary under the Flour Mills of Nigeria Group), who is the strategic partner of Corteva Agriscience in Nigeria, USAID, American Business Council, National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), Alliance for Green Revolution in Nigeria (AGRA), SEEDAN, Variety Release Committee of Crops in Nigeria, ADPs, IITA and others.

The commercialized hybrids in Nigeria adapted to rain forest agro ecologies and Savannah Agro ecologies include for yellow – 30y87 and P4226 and white hybrid being P3966 with potential yields of nine to twelve Metric Tonnes per hectare and proven average yields in farmers field of six to seven Metric Tonnes per hectare. Higher yields increase income for the farmers which invariably increases their socio-economic livelihoods and overall wellbeing.

Diversifying the Nigerian economy will not only make the country self-sufficient in food production and industrial raw materials, but also create jobs for its teeming youth population and increase the nations capabilities for regional export opportunities. However, every stakeholder has a role to play in ensuring a sustainable value chain development and local content optimization. This can only be achieved through a clear definition of individual roles, strong partnerships and alignment in policies and actions. Corteva’s efforts in the maize value chain is a shining example of a systematic approach towards developing the agricultural value chain.

 

 

How SON galvanizes operators towards massive local wheat, rice production

 

Amid the current uproar concerning skyrocketing prices of food items, particularly bread and other wheat-related foods, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has been upbeat rendering technical support for local rice and wheat production across the country.

 

Apart from sensitizing stakeholders on the role of standards in promoting sustainable agriculture and food security in Nigeria, the standards body has been emphasizing the need for long-term investments on local wheat and rice production.

 

Nigeria has since been identified as one of the major importing countries of wheat, flour and wheat products in the world. Other countries ranked alongside Nigeria included Egypt, Indonesia, Brazil, Philippines, Turkey and Algeria.

 

With the Russia-Ukraine war still raging, the price of wheat has continued to spiral, causing high food prices not only in Nigeria but across the world.

 

Russia and Ukraine account for about 34 percent of global wheat production and control about 29 percent of wheat exports.

 

According to the Director General, SON, Mallam Farouk Salim, Nigeria being an import-dependent country, has no other option than to encourage private sector to embark on massive infrastructural investment on local production of wheat and rice, especially, wheat which remains an essential ingredient for the production of a wide range of food such as bread, noodles, pasta, cakes, wheat meal, flour, semolina, among others.

 

Local wheat production in Nigeria has remained grossly inadequate to meet growing demand. Hence, SON has been determined to change the narrative for the better.

 

The agency has urged the stakeholders to invest massively in local production of the product rather than depending on imports.

 

This development comes on the heels of the recent training workshop organised for over 500 rice millers in Kano and stakeholders’ and engagement with flour millers by SON as part and parcel of efforts to attain food security in the country.

 

The SON DG met with flour and rice millers in Lagos and Kano to sensitize them on the critical roles they need to play at this time when there is low output in the supply chain of wheat, especially from Ukraine.

 

Flour millers were told that they need to take advantage of the opportunity to look inwards by investing in backward integration to grow local high-quality yields rather than depend on imports.

 

According to the SON boss, scarcity should never be an excuse for some of the manufacturers to compromise standards. He said the agency would not compromise on standards, urging millers to invest in local production of wheat to achieve food security and conserve the nation’s hard-earned foreign exchange.

“The ultimate plan is to do the same thing we did with rice where the local industry will embark on backward integration to encourage local farmers to produce more wheat. That way, we will not not have to depend on imports”, he re-stated.

 

Reacting to the SON DG’s admonitions, one of the millers, Mr Bolaji Anifowose of Olam Farms, said his company has been supporting the Federal Government’s wheat project by assisting wheat farmers over the years.

He also assured the government and wheat farmers’ association that his company would stake reasonable prices on its products to encourage local millers while also increasing their profit margins.

 

The Regional Director, SON, Mr Albert Wilberforce, further explained that if products meet standards and producers follow the laid down rules, they would not have any problem in the receiving countries.

“The third-party milling training is conducted for companies with little or no milling capacity in order to sell their products. Third parties and millers must adhere to the requirements for third party milling required parameters in order to avoid sanctions by SON,” he urged.

A miller, Mr Kelvin Uzor, said when farmers produce quality commodities for export, the companies would expand, more people would be employed and it would reduce insecurity and increase the life span of consumers in the country.

Alhaji Shehu Musa, who is one of the Small and Medium Scale industrialists, said the training would increase their capacities in improving standardization of products.

It is left to be seen how stakeholders, especially those in the wheat business, would key into SON’s technical support and standards stipulations in the face of spiralling cost of wheat-related products across the country.

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