by Mark Itsibor
The Nigeria Young Farmers Network (NYFN) has frowned at partial importation of Maize and some other banned crops by the Federal Government.
The network reacted to a leaked circular from the Nigeria Customs Service on the plan to allow some products initially banned for importation to come into the country for a 3-month period.
The internal memo signed by the deputy comptroller-general of Customs in charge of trade and tariff, T.M Isa, directed all command heads to observe the window for the importation of maize and corn by four companies for a period of between August and October 2020. According to the circular, the decision was to strike a balance between food imports and local production capacities to meet anticipated shortfall.ADVERTISEMENT
The National Coordinator of the network, Mr Promise Amahah expressed displeasure in a statement in Abuja on Sunday. He said the resolution to condemn this move came during the association’s emergency meeting held on the 4th of August, 2020.
According to him, the reason stated above begs for proper elucidation is incomprehensible and totally inexplicable.
“It is even more disheartening, demoralizing, disturbing and demeaning considering that as an organization we have made concerted efforts to ramp up local production in response to the anticipated shortfall by mobilizing young people mostly unemployed to participate in our already developed nationwide program tagged; “raise a million farmers”.
“For a government that had been on the forefront of import substitution and backward integration, one finds it hard to reconcile its sincerity of purpose 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 of 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 foul.
“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)” he explained.
Amahah noted that the growing population- 2.6% annual growth rate (World Bank) evidenced by rapid demographic bulge.
He added that the rate of unemployment is 27.1% as at the second quarter of 2020 indicating about 21.7 million Nigerians unemployed (mostly young people) and Nigeria’s unemployment and underemployment rate (28.6%) is a combined 55% based on NBS data.
“Maize is ubiquitous as it is one of the special crops that grows everywhere in Nigeria. Every region produces maize, government must encourage youth to grow such crop.
“We must work hard as a country to growing insecurity and growing debt profile through agriculture.
“We the young farmers will never put off our mic on this one! Never! You can’t charge young people to take charge while you remain in charge.
“We want to categorically state and clarify that the Nigeria Young Farmers Network is totally against full or partial importation of crops into the country.
“The worst thing to do is to dampen our efforts in mobilizing young people to engage in the agricultural sector especially in view of the rapidly dwindling economy.
“Youth apathy towards agriculture is a major challenge we are working hard to reverse and anything short of full support to achieve that will be counterproductive for us as a nation” he stated.