Dry season farming as way of tackling maize scarcity
By Ify Onyekwere
Food sufficiency has been a major challenge confronting the Nigerian government at all levels.
As a result of this, the Federal Government reduced the cost of fertilizer in recent times with a mind of ensuring that food is adequately produced.
Nonetheless, farmers who have the primary responsibility of producing food for consumption are bordered by the scarcity of maize in Nigeria.
Statistics show that Nigeria is the 11th largest producer of maize in the world, and the 2nd largest maize producer in Africa after South Africa.
According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the demand for maize almost hit 3billion metric tonnes in 2019.
This is because maize is a crop that is not just consumed domestically, it is also used industrially by flour millers, brewers, bread bakers and confectionery plus animal feed manufacturers.
Speaking on what caused scarcity of maize in Nigeria, Mr Yinka Adesola of Farm Villa Resource Centre in Oyo state, Nigeria pointed that unpredictable rainfall is a major factor.
“Climate change has affected the farmers in planting of maize. Climatic factors as temperature, sun, rainfall are changing, so nobody knows the exact timetable of rainfall which has in turn affected planting.
“A lot of people expected rains earlier than it came in the previous year  which delayed planting,” she explained.
In her words, “Pest is another factor which is actually still linked to rainfall.
“If rain has been falling at the appropriate time, it would have washed off some harmful pests in the crops but because it did not come at the expected time, pests multiplied greatly and fed a lot on famers’ crops.
“Due to these factors, we may still be facing maize scarcity till next year.”
The maize farming expert also pointed out that importation of maize does not solve problem, stressing that irrigation is the way out.
Mrs Adesola said, “As it is right now, nobody can go into maize farm except for those who can practise irrigation, which is not common as it is not something anyone can just go into without sufficient funds and backing.”
She advised investors to delve into irrigation and rescue system to the scarcity of maize.
A middleman in the maize farming business, Akande Olayinka Steven who is based in Port Harcourt, Nigeria said scarcity of maize has affected pricing of poultry produce.
“The pricing of maize in 2019 was N80 per kilo but in 2020, it moved to about N150 per kilo and it is still very scarce at that,” Mr Steven lamented.