BusinessDay

Nigeria’s maize sufficiency quest: The Corteva Agriscience contribution

Given both the growing population and the impact felt from the pandemic, the need to improve food security in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized.

Maize is one of the most important agricultural commodities with an average local supply of about 10.5 million metric tons per annum with a demand of 15 million metric tons, leaving a supply-demand gap of 4.5 million tons per annum, according to data from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Nigeria.

The nationwide demand for low-cost, convenient staple foods for human consumption as well as livestock is increasing, therefore the country is in dire need to accelerate local production.

The Federal Government in conjunction with MAAN and CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme on maize farming is an initiative which has been set up to boost maize production by involving the grassroots maize farmers in all local governments in Nigeria to produce enough for local consumption and for export. This is an example of how collaborative actions can produce more impactful results.

It has therefore become imperative for all stakeholders in this value chain to work together in scaling up local production in a more systemic and sustainable manner and that is why a number of seed companies including Corteva Agriscience have been consistently working to increase maize yields in Nigeria through its Pioneer brand hybrid seeds by collaborating with both the government and private industry players to develop maize hybrid seed in Nigeria through demo plots, agronomy trainings, extension services, outgrower schemes and farming partnerships.

Corteva Agriscience through its initiatives is seen as a partner of progress in achieving the government’s objective of the Nation attaining self-sufficiency in the maize value chain, playing an active role in the solution, beyond the distribution and sales of hybrid maize seeds for grain production but in the drive to increase farmer profitability through giving technical support to the farmers and increasing the supply of locally grown foundation seeds.

Corteva, in alignment with the Government local content objectives, has piloted seed production sites in Kano, Kaduna and Nasarawa state with a combined hectarage of 20 hectares and average seed yield of 4.5MT per hectare with the goal of scaling these efforts year in year out.

As a matter of hindsight, this is a continuation of the parent seeds testing that was done in 2018 and 2019. These efforts are also focused on building the capacities of Nigerian agronomists to be expert in seed production, ensuring real time supply of quality certified seeds of maize hybrid adapted to our environment into the Nigeria seed industry and to assure farmers that commercial seeds that are produced in Nigeria can yield as much as the same imported seeds.

To showcase the efficacy of the Pioneer Hybrid Maize seeds, twenty-Five Demonstration Plots are established by Coretva Agriscience each year since 2015 across about 10 states in the different geo-political zones of the federation and they serve as field schools in training farmers in maize agronomy, from land preparation to harvesting. Corteva also avails a platform of linkage to the farmers to output market such as the livestock and breweries industries.

Read also: Bridging Nigeria’s maize supply shortfall

In this particular initiative, alliances and collaboration were established with Golden Agri-Inputs (a subsidiary under the Flour Mills of Nigeria Group), who is the strategic partner of Corteva Agriscience in Nigeria, USAID, American Business Council, National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), Alliance for Green Revolution in Nigeria (AGRA), SEEDAN, Variety Release Committee of Crops in Nigeria, ADPs, IITA and others.

The commercialized hybrids in Nigeria adapted to rain forest agro ecologies and Savannah Agro ecologies include for yellow – 30y87 and P4226 and white hybrid being P3966 with potential yields of nine to 12 metric tons per hectare and proven average yields in farmers field of six to seven Metric Tonnes per hectare. Higher yields increase income for the farmers which invariably increase their socio-economic livelihoods and overall wellbeing.

Diversifying the Nigerian economy will not only make the country self-sufficient in food production industrial raw materials, but also create jobs for its teeming youth population and increase the nations capabilities for regional export opportunities.

However, every stakeholder has a role to play in ensuring a sustainable value chain development and local content optimization. This can only be achieved through a clear definition of individual roles, strong partnerships and alignment in policies and actions. Corteva’s efforts in the maize value chain is a shining example of a systematic approach towards a developing the agricultural value chain.

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