Maize 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 which makes the most populous country in Africa the leading producer of the commodity in the continent. The North Central of Nigeria is the major maize producing area and 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.
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 flours for household consumption. Maize is also an essential ingredient in the brewing of beverages, production of industrial starch and glucose.
The Demand for Maize in Nigeria
Maize is a versatile commodity with high demand all year round. The demand for maize is driven by households’ effective demand and industrial uses. The demand by poultry, food processing industries and breweries is high. About 55 percent of maize produced in Nigeria is used as food, 31 percent for animal feed formulation, 2 percent is processed into foods and beverages while 12 percent is exported into neighbouring countries. FAO (2013).
The poultry industry in Nigeria is increasing at a faster rate than maize causing a rapid spike in the price of the commodity a few months after harvest. There is a strong correlation between the price of maize and the prices of animal products especially poultry products i.e. eggs and chicken. Hence the growth and development of the maize sector is a sine qua non to the growth of the livestock industry.
Market Share of Maize in Nigeria