The Federal Government has been urged to empower farmers for massive cultivation of maize in the country.
This was the submission of the Chairperson, Erikorodo Poultry Farm in Ikorodu, Lagos State, Mrs Juliana Ibitoye.
Ibitoye told newsmen on Friday in Lagos that massive cultivation of maize would make the country self-sufficient and eliminate dependence on imports.
She said that the poultry sector had been negatively affected by the low production of maize used in producing poultry feed.
The farmer said that the government must commence a five-year plan for maize cultivation that would ensure self-sufficiency.
According to her, the government should also allocate lands to many farmers, empower them with improved seedlings and tools to facilitate the production of more yields.
“There is scarcity and low production of maize in the country. The poultry sector is in a near state of collapse because of the high cost of feed due to the high cost of maize.
“What the Federal Government should be addressing and focusing on now is how the country should meet the maize need of the sector.
“For any intervention to be effective in the poultry sector, government must empower farmers to go into full-time massive cultivation of maize for the next five years.
“Government must lift ban on importation of maize for now. It must allocate land to farmers to produce maize so much that we can have enough to export.
“We can plant enough maize and export because we have the natural resources and land,” she said.
On the recent release of 50,000 metric tonnes of maize to 12 companies by the Central Bank of Nigeria, Ibitoye said the intervention was commendable but might not have much impact on the sector if smallholder farmers would not benefit from it.
She urged the Federal Government to ensure that the impact would be felt by small poultry farmers who formed the majority in the sector.
“The number of maize released to the big farms are not even enough for them, let alone getting to the smaller player in the sector.
“Are they going to sell the maize to other millers? Are they going to use it in their own milling companies?
“I don’t patronise the popular feed; I try to buy my feed from small millers whose price is a bit affordable and feed of good quality.
Ibitoye noted that many of the companies that benefitted from the intervention also owned poultry farms.
“They may not even sell it out. So, how do small poultry farms benefit from the intervention?” she asked.
Ibitoye urged the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to set up a monitoring team to ensure that the impact of intervention would be felt by all farmers.
“In all, the price of maize plays a major role in the price of birds and eggs.
“When millers don’t get the right inputs, they can use inferior ones that may have adverse effects on output.
“Low-quality feed can affect production and cause harm to birds,” she said.