The renewed killings and destruction of properties in Mangu town, Plateau State, is threatening the production and supply of 477,900 metric tonnes of maize, which will fill about 24,000 18-wheeler trucks.
For over a year now, Mangu town, which has the largest maize market in the state, has been bedevilled by a series of continuous attacks that have led to killings, destruction of properties and goods.
Hundreds of farmers have fled for safety since the attacks commenced last year, causing a shortfall in the production of the grain in Plateau.
Farmers say this could hit producers of feeds, flour, noodles, biscuits, brewers, starch, and confectioners, among others, who use maize as a raw material at factories.
“Mangu has the largest maize market in Plateau State and traders from across the country come there to buy maize in large volumes,” said John Wuyep, chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Plateau state chapter. “But the insecurity which started mid-last year has reduced maize supply and production in the state.”
Wuyep said it will affect millers and feed producers as the state is the fifth largest grower of maize in the country.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture 2023 Nigerian grain report, households account for between 10 and 15 percent of total consumption while animal feeds accounts for 20 percent and the food and beverage industry accounts for the rest.
Johnson Bagudu, chairman of the Poultry Association of Nigeria, Plateau State chapter, said the situation in Mangu town could soon begin to hit makers of feedstocks and the food and beverage industry as the market is known for its quality grains.
He said the situation will likely affect maize prices and Plateau contribution of the grain as several farmers have already fled the affected communities in the state for safety.
Plateau is the fifth largest maize grower in the state with 477,900 metric tonnes in 2019, according to a 2019 PwC report on maize.
Nigeria is Africa’s second-largest maize producer after South Africa, churning out 12.9 million metric tonnes in 2022, according to data from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
Maize is the leading cereal grown in Nigeria, closely followed by sorghum and rice.
Bagudu added that most poultry farmers in Plateau have shut down operations due to the surge in maize prices, noting that the industry has been greatly affected as maize constitutes 80 percent of feed meal formulation.
BusinessDay market survey in Kano shows that a 100kg bag of white yellow and dry maize is sold for N47,000 and N48,000 respectively in the Dawanu commodity market in Kano as against N35,000 and N36,000 in December 2023, indicating a 34.3 percent and 33.3 percent increase in price in one month.
In Jos, a metric tonne of dry yellow maize now sells for N500,000 as against N400,000 in December 2023, indicating a 25 percent surge in price.
“The price of a bag of maize in Plateau is almost at par with what you will buy in Kano but now the difference between the prices from both states is running into thousands. This is mainly because of the insecurity issues in Plateau,” Bagudu said.
AfricanFarmer Mogaji, chief executive of X-Ray Consulting, said the renewed killing in Mangu is a threat to food security in the country, adding that farmers have suffered heavy losses owing to insecurity challenges.
“This is the period you find lots of dry maize in the markets and millers and feed producers buy in large quantities for stock but if the largest maize market in a top producing state is under attack, then there is a serious problem,” he said.
He urged the government to address the issue of insecurity before it escalates to scarcity of the grains, which according to him, would be a big blow to the poultry industry.
FAO, in its grain outlook for the West Africa region, had predicted that Nigeria and other countries across the West Africa region would see a considerable decline in the production of grains – maize, sorghum, and millet in 2024 due to agro-climatic challenges, insecurity, and rising production costs.