Maize is a very popular food staple in Nigeria and a very crucial ingredient in the production of many foods consumed in Nigeria.
In 2014, the global production of Maize totalled 1.04 billion tonnes. The United States, Brazil and China are the three top producers of maize. The three countries together produce an estimate of 563 million metric tonnes of maize per year out of 717 million tonnes produced globally. In 2016, the US alone produced 56.5 million metric tonnes of maize.
Nigeria has an annual maize production of 7 million metric tonnes. The total land area planted with Maize in Nigeria is above 2.5 million hectares, and with an estimated yield of above 1.4 metric tonnes per hectare.
In terms of volume produced, Maize is the third most consumed cereal grown in Nigeria after millet and sorghum. It comes after rice and wheat in terms of global importance. Maize is mostly cultivated throughout the world, and a more significant amount of Maize is produced each year than any other grain. Looking to start a lucrative maize production business in Nigeria or Africa? You’ll find a helpful guide as you to read on.
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What is Maize?
Maize (Zea Mays) is a cereal plant that yields large grains (corn) set in rows on a cob. It is an annual grass which belongs to the family Gramineae, which includes such plants as wheat, rye, barley, rice, sorghum, and sugarcane. Maize has lots of economic, health and consumption value worldwide.
What is Maize Processing?
Maize processing is the process of transforming maize into various products for human use and consumption.
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Business Opportunities Associated With Maize Processing In Nigeria & Around The World
1). Source of Food:
Maize is a cereal plant that produces grains which can be cooked, roasted, fried, ground, pounded or crushed to prepare various food items like pap, Tuwo, Gwate, Donkunu and a host of others. Boiled or roasted maize is one of the most popular street foods.
2). Maize Flour Production:
Maize flour is a white free-flowing powder derived from milling maize, followed by washing, concentrating, centrifuging, drying, milling and sifting to give a natural maize starch. It can be used to make bread, muffins, pancake mixes, infant foods, biscuits, wafers, breakfast cereals, and as a filler, binder, and carrier in meat products.
Popcorn is gotten entirely from maize. It is one great snack in Nigeria in constant demand. It is consumed mainly as refreshments at events and in cinemas.
4). Source of Animal Feed:
Maize constitutes the primary ingredient of animal feed for poultry. It is preferred as an animal feed due to its low cost (compared to other cereals), low fibre content. It is also preferred for its high starch content which consists of concentrated energy food.
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Facts and Benefits of Maize
- Maize is produced annually much more than any other grain
- Maize was introduced into Africa around the 1500s and has since become one of Africa’s dominant food crops
- Immature maize shoots accumulate as a powerful antibiotic substance.
- Maize is an annual grass which belongs to the family Gramineae, which includes such plants as wheat, rye, barley, rice, sorghum, and sugarcane.
- Maize is rich in carbohydrates, vitamins A, C and E, and essential minerals, and contain 9% protein.
- Corn is the primary cereal grain as measured by production but ranks third as a staple food, after wheat and rice.
- Maize flour is enriched with thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, iron and zinc.
- Maize is a significant source of starch, dietary fibre, and calories which are a good source of energy.
- Every cob has an even number of rows
- Over 90 million acres of land worldwide is used for growing maize.
- The USA, China, Brazil, India and Argentina are the leading producers of maize worldwide.
- Ogun, Ondo, Niger, Taraba, etc. are areas in Nigeria where corn is grown.
- There are many thousands of hybrid corns but six major types.
- The world record for the tallest maize stalk is 33 ft.
- Prior to the 20th century, corn harvesting was done purely by manual labour
- Corn was used as currency among the early North Americans
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Types of Maize
The six types of maize are:
1). Dent Maize:
Also known as field maize, it is the most widely cultivated maize in the U.S. It contains soft starch granules. It is either a yellow or white grain and is used mainly for livestock farming. Dent maize is also used food production and contains a mixture of hard and soft starches which become indented when dried.
2). Lint Maize:
Lint maize is similar to dent maize. It has a tough outer husk and is characterized by a broad range of colours. This variety of corn has very little soft starch in its grain, unlike the dent maize.
3). Pod Maize:
Pod maize is not a wild ancestor of maize but a mutant that forms leaves around each kernel.
Popcorn is a kind of lint maize but has a different size, shape, starch level and moisture content. It has a hard outer husk and a delicate starchy core. It has tiny kernels (grains) on a small ear. The starch granules are enclosed in a robust and also elastic covering. When heated, the sturdy cover withstands steam pressure until it explodes. When heated up, the natural moisture inside the kernel turns to steam and builds up enough pressure before it eventually explodes. Other varieties of dried Maize may burst open slightly when heated but not like popcorn. Popcorn is unique in its taste.
5). Floury Maize:
The floury maize seed consists mainly of soft starch which is surrounded by a layer under the pericarp. It is mostly grown in the most Southern parts of Nigeria.
6). Sweet Maize:
Sweet maize has a very soft starch and will never pop. It contains more sugar than the other types of maize. Sweet maize is valued for its sweet flavour. It has a higher sugar content than all the other species and is usually boiled or canned. Sweet maize is picked and eaten while the ears are in the immature milk stage, and the kernels are tender.
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How To Start A Maize Processing Business: A Step-By-Step Guide
The production process of maize flour production entails pre-cleaning, cleaning, tempering, crushing, germination, milling, sieving and packaging.
1). Planting Maize:
The land used for maize farming should be sandy-loam soil. Before planting maize, the land is prepared to receive the maize seeds. Remove all the weeds and keep the soil loose for a good seedbed. Plant immediately after land preparations to allow maize to get ahead of weeds. The depth of the planting should not be more than 5 cm (2 inches) deep.
2). Maize Processing:
The dry-milling process includes particle size reduction of clean whole maize with or without separation, retaining all or some of its original maize germ and fibre. Processing maize involves mechanical separation and processing, resulting in dry shelf-stable products with a majority of both germ and fibre removed.
Fermented maize products, such as ogi (akamu), are prepared by soaking the maize kernel for 1 to 3 days until soft. It is then ground with an industrial grinding machine.
Challenges Of Maize Processing In Nigeria
Some challenges encountered in maize processing include:
- Absence of capital for start-up
- Pests and diseases attack
- Lack of proper research
- The high cost of production
- Lack of storage facilities
- Marketing problems
- Occasional unfavourable soil temperatures and soil moisture for growing maize
- Low government support
- Lack of loan structures for maize farmers
- Poor road network for transporting maize and maize products
- Inability of local maize farmers to reach the international market.
- Corn sluggish growth could affect eventual yields
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To Sum It Up
Nigeria produces a wide variety of agricultural commodities, which could serve as raw materials for industrial production and food crops for human consumption. The dual nature of such crops keeps them in high demand worldwide, and one of such plants is maize. Maize is a significant food staple for much of the world’s population and represents a vehicle for vitamin and mineral deficiency intervention.
The maize farming business in Nigeria can be a lucrative and profitable venture to start-up, due to its vast market demand and on your ability to build a wide supply chain network. If you’re looking for a supply chain business to venture into, the maize farming business in Nigeria is a great option to explore.
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