THE food industry is bracing for major adjustments as concerns over the impact of Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) ban on maize import grow. While the extent of the ban’s impact remains uncertain, production disruption is a major area of focus. Some stakeholders fear that the CBN’s ban of maize import when local farmers have not produced enough to power the food industry will lead to high cost of the crop, which is a major raw material in livestock and pharmaceutical industries. Higher projected orders from the food processing industry have sent maize prices soaring with supplies plummeting.
With the ban on maize importation, analysts say food industries are paying more for maize.
The poultry sector is one of the major consumers of maize as it is a key ingredient in poultry feed and accounts for 70 per cent of production cost.
The have not been able to pass on the high costs to consumers, as such, they have continued to reel under the impact of higher production feed costs.
The Southwest Chairman, Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Dr. Adetoyi Olabode, expressed mixed feelings on the issue.
According to him, while the COVID-19 impact has been mitigated, the poultry sector still face challenges. Olabode, who appreciated the government’s steps to boost food security and curtail irresponsible use of foreign exchange, noted, however, that the ban was ill timed because poultry farmers were still counting their losses from the near-closure of businesses due to restrictions imposed by federal and state governments to stem the spread COVID-19.
The pandemic, according to him, has reduced the grain outlook. He said the government should have given poultry farmers at least three months to import enough maize while plans would be intensified to increase maize production to reverse the high cost of poultry feeds. The volume and quality of maize available locally, he said, might not be sufficient for industrial producers in the long run. So, the CBN should relax the policy to allow the import of white maize for animal feed between now and the end of October, he said.
Because of the ban, he said a ton of maize, which sold for N80,000 had climbed to N180,000. Maize prices have soared to an all-time high in the market because of weak supply, he added