Farmers lament as Covid-19 Pandemic hammer Nigeria’s maize output by 30%

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A woman roasts maize cobs on the side of the road in Lawley informal settlement in the south of Johannesburg, South Africa, April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Maize output is expected to fall this year by 30%, from projected 25 million metric tonnes to 17.5 million tonnes, Nigeria farmers have said.

“Our projection for this year was formally 25 million tonnes, but because of COVID-19 challenges we have realized that it will be very difficult for us to meet that target.

But we are hoping that if we can get 70% out of what we are projecting, we thank God because there are so many challenges,” Dr Abubakar Bello funtua, the National President of Maize Farmers Association stated.

The farmers said there were many factors associated to the current global pandemic forcing down the production trajectory.

The farmers said that maize planted during the 2019/2020 dry season were affected because by the time they were due for harvest, the lockdown and restriction were impose and many of them could not move to their farms or get farm workers to do the harvest and they don’t have other implements like combined-harvesters for harvest leading to loses.

The leader of the association also pointed out that the lockdown became more severe in the south-south and south-west which witnessed early onset of rain and many of them could not go to their farms because of the total lockdown.

This has greatly affected their access to input from their suppliers thereby affected their planting activities.

Experts urged FG and state governments look critically into how farmers and other service providers can be supported to move freely to provide technical assistance to the farmers including farm palliative.

Dr Abubakar stressed further that the government “must take appropriate action on this issue otherwise the problems associated with this will be more devastated than COVID-19.”

He recalled that production last year was so significant because of the CBN intervention and other programme such as the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative; it must be intensified more in view of the current challenges.

MAAM appealed to all the relevant government programmes to go into action so that farmers could have access to inputs, implement to plant in order to have bumper harvest next season to cushion this effect.

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