By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
The Federal Government has been urged to revisit its ban on the issuance of Foreign Exchange (Forex) for maize importation as it could spell doom for poultry farmers across the country.
Director, Agribusiness Programme, Lagos Business School, Dr. Ikechukwu Kelikume who made this call, said that the ban could result in scarcity and price inflation of the commodity, which largely constitutes poultry feeds.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had in mid-July announced that it placed a ban on the importation of maize and will no longer issue forex for the importation of the cereal.
According to Kelikume, the ban will also have adverse effects on the Bank’s other agricultural intervention schemes, as well as the employment situation within the poultry value chain.
“The situation spells doom for poultry farmers across the country, who are beginning to cut down on production because of the high cost of feed and imported medication for the birds
“A negative spillover effect of the high cost of feed is the scarcity of eggs and a consequent rise in its price across the country.
“The implications of the current challenges in the maize value chain are that the gains of employing more people in the agricultural sector will be rolled back in the coming months.
“As it stands, there is no alternative for the poultry farmers, as the poultry sector will face a catastrophic shortage of feeds, a critical input in their business.
“This situation will render tens of thousands of them unemployed and undo all the gains made by this sector in the past five years.
“Thousands of poultry businesses will shut down in the face of high operating costs, leaving business owners and their employees without a means of livelihood.”
Kelikume estimated the current maize deficit to be about 100,000 metric tons- a situation that translates to a negligible import bill of less than $20 million.
He described it as a small price to pay to salvage the impending maize scarcity in the last quarter of the year 2020.
“Nigeria has a high production potential for maize. Notwithstanding, the current challenge is that the production and supply bottlenecks in the sector have first to be checkmated for any meaningful import restriction measure to be effective,” he added.