Your Excellency Sir,I humbly write to draw
your urgent attention to the rather unfortunate news that the government has granted approval for some selected
companies to import maize into the country due to the following reason: Striking a balance between food imports
and local production capacities
to meet anticipated shortfall.
The reason stated above begs for proper elucidation as it remains incomprehensible and totally inexplicable. It is even more disheartening, demoralizing, disturbing and demeaning considering that
as an individual and young farmer I have made concerted efforts to mobilize fellow young Nigerians under the
auspices of the Nigeria Young Farmers Network to ramp up local production in response to the anticipated shortfall.
As a maize farmer and a young Nigerian committed to playing my part through
the organized private sector and non-governmental organization (Nigeria Young Farmers Network and Guard
Nigeria Image and Values Initiative) to ensure rapid economic recovery and job
creation by mobilizing young people (mostly unemployed) to participate in our already developed nationwide
program tagged; ‘Raise A MillionFarmers’, I find this development very worrisome.
As the national coordinator of Nigeria Young Farmers Network with over a
million members nationwide and CEO of Mainstay Agro Allied Services Ltd I was
jubilant about the ban on maize importation and your announcement that we can no longer import foodconsidering
our economic realities.
I expressed the excitement of myself and other young farmers through the media
and greatly celebrated your visionary leadership in that direction. Sadly sir, just a few days later, our joy was cut short
by a media report on approval of maize importation by selected companies.
This greatly damped my deliberate efforts targeted to create compelling awareness and attraction of our teeming
unemployed youth nationwide to ramp up local production of maize and other critical crops which will lead to rapid
economic recovery, job and wealth creation.
For a government that had been in the forefront of import substitution and backward integration, one finds it hard to
reconcile it with this selective importation approval for maize. It appears to be a typical case of “do I say but not as I do”.
The sheer cost of providing forex for the five (5) selected companies to import maize will be sufficient to mobilize
10million young farmers to produce maize nationwide. Let’s even do a quick math; the average yield is about 4ton
per hectare. Multiply 4ton per hectare by 10million farmers (assuming each farmer is to a hectare). That instantly gives you an idea why we are crying
Beyond the massive production potential is the huge numbers of direct and indirect jobs that can be created, capital flight mitigation, enhanced socioeconomic livelihood and
ultimate reduction in crime (insecurity).
Let’s break it down further to emphasize why this move should be stopped.
1. Growing population–2.6% annual growth rate (World Bank) evidenced by
rapid demographic bulge.
2. Rate of unemployment–27.1% as at the second quarter of 2020 indicating about 21.7million Nigerians unemployed
(mostly young people). Nigeria’s unemployment and underemployment rate (28.6%)
is a combined 55% (NBS)3. Maize is ubiquitous –one of the special crops that
grows everywhere in Nigeria.
Every region produces maize.4. Capital flight – The CBN Bulletin of 2015 also shows that the net flows in Nigeria
from 1986 to 2016 which is our period of study have been very worrisome. The statistics shows that the worsening
situation was recorded in 1999
and 2011 with $1.1 trillion and
$8.8 trillion in net capital flight
The causes of the above increasing trend of capital flight in Nigeria are often
traced to disincentives created mainly by distortions in domestic macroeconomic
policy. Corruption on the part of public officers, varying risk perception, weak institutions, rising taxes, weak economic
growth, fiscal deficit and financial sector constraints.
It is expected that the trend would continue to sky rocket even beyond the period of study going by the high rate
of political unrest, lack of confidence in the domestic economy, and corruption on
the part of public officials in the( country journals). 5. Growing insecurity –
6. Growing debt profile ,7. Youth development , 8. Strengthening National
Labour/Workforce, 9. Industrialization
10. Global competitiveness.
The above clearly shows how firmly this selective approval for maize importation
is an obvious “kneeling on our
neck” as young Nigerians and we honestly can no longer breathe in these circumstances.Youth apathy towards
agriculture is a major challenge I am personally working hard to reverse and anything short of full support to achieve that will be counter productive for us as a nation.
My personal mission is to connect young people to cross-cutting opportunities
in the Agribusiness sector in
collaboration with government and private sector.
The ultimate goal is to:1. make Agriculture greatagain in Nigeria through
attractive, practical and compelling projects and programs thereby eradicating youth apathy to agriculture.
2. Promoting and advocating all inclusive modern Agribusiness driven by cutting
edge technology , 3. Strengthening and
equipping rural farmers. 4. Reversing
Unemployment through Agribusiness.
5. Mitigate capital flight
through import substitution
and value chain/value added
Your Excellency, as your partner in progress I thank you in advance for your
consideration to totally ban
importation of food crops while I assure you of our continued support for your
positive policies as we build a socio-economically vibrant nation driven by the youth.
– Amahah is CEO, Mainstay
Agro Allied Services Ltd