Maize (Zea mays) is the third most important cereal crop after wheat and rice and serves as a lifeline to more than 300 million vulnerable people in Africa. In Nigeria, maize is one of the most important food crops grown in every state of the federation. Nigeria produces 13 million tons of maize annually, making Nigeria the leading producer of the commodity in the African continent. The North Central of Nigeria is the major maize producing area. The states in this region are Kaduna, Niger, Plateau, Kwara, Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba. 70 percent of maize farmers in the country are smallholders cultivating an average of 5 hectares of land. On a global scale, Nigeria is ranked the 12th largest producer of maize.
Maize is a strategic commodity that has the potential to alleviate hunger and rural poverty because of its composite demands. Maize is a principal raw material for the formulation of livestock feeds, production of infant foods, breakfast cereals and flour for household consumption. Maize is also an essential ingredient in the brewing of beverages, the production of industrial starch and glucose. The colour of the grains is used to classify it into white and yellow maize.
The Demands for Maize in Nigeria
Maize is a versatile commodity with high demand all year round. The demand for maize in Nigeria is driven by animal feeds millers (45.5%), exports through the land borders to neighbouring countries (20%), and household consumption (15%). Other demands are the manufacturers of industrial foods (13%) and beverage companies (6.5%) – PWC September 2021.