Few weeks ago in Kebbi State, there was dramatic accusation and denial between Senator Adamu Aliero and Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State on the one hand and ministers of agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh and Finance, Kemi Adeosun on other about importation of over 300 metric tonnes of maize.
While both the ministers of Agriculture and finance denied having hands in the importation saga, the Nigerian customs however admitted that there has been increased importation of maize into the country in the last few months.
Kabiru Salihu, Chairman Maize Farmers Association of Nigeria, Kaduna State Chapter told Daily Trust that the act will reverse the huge gains recorded in the last few years of this administration and will make it difficult for those who invested massively in the production of the crop make gains.
The situation, farmers argued will not only crash the prices of maize but will also dampen the morale of farmers to invest in the production of the grain.
Currently Nigeria produces maize in an estimated 700,000 hectares which gives 10.5 million metric tonnes even though it falls short of the domestic demand of 15 million metric tonnes.
With more government input support, the country could produce about 20 million tonnes in 2018 using best agronomy practices.
Beside the danger of importation, armyworms in the last two years have been ravages farms across the country with some defying solutions.
Although minister of agriculture chief Audu Ogbeh said that government have spent over N2 billion to contain the disease, some farmers fear harvest will be low in places with severe attacks.
From Benue state, our correspondent said farmers are expecting poor yield from their farms because of the worms attack that wreaked havoc in the state this farming season.
Farmers in the state first experienced poor harvest in October last year due to the destructive activities of the bug, which experts confirmed migrated into the country.
The situation was said to have been better in some parts of Niger, Kwara, Nasarawa, and Kaduna states and the FCT, where the infestations of the worms were reported early.
The maize farms in some of these states were said to have been saved after the application of some chemicals by the farmers and heavy rains.
But the situation is different in Benue State as the worms reportedly defied all solutions.
The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) had last year confirmed 100 percent infestation of the foreign pest known as army worms all over farms in the three senatorial districts of the state.
The Head of the NAQS delegation on investigation to the state, Acting Director, John Ogbaje, while briefing the Commissioner for Agriculture, James Anbua, on his team’s findings in Makurdi, said that maize farms visited were suspected to have been infested with foreign pests, therefore, timely measures including use of chemicals were to be taken to avert crisis in the 2017 season.
Sadly, those recommended measures against the pests seemed not to have nipped the challenge in the bud as it appeared the chemicals didn’t work at all or the idea was not appropriately passed down to the farmers for proper application.