Maize, also known as corn was first domesticated about 5,000 – 10,000 years ago in Southern Mexico/Central America and is one of the three most important grain in the world, the other two being rice and wheat.
According to Statista’s world corn production by country 2016/17, Nigeria only produces 7.2 million metric tons of Maize, a good chunk of Africa’s corn production but considerably small when compared to USA’s corn production which stands at 384 million metric units.
Maize has different planting seasons depending on location and takes an average of 2 – 4 months to reach harvest. Maize is usually planted in well-loosed, well-drained soil with compost added to the planting area before planting begins.
Maize grown in cold, wet soil is unlikely to germinate so is best planted after the soil temperature reaches 60°F. Maize should also be well spaced, ideally sown one and a half inches deep, 2 – 4 inches apart, in short, side-by-side rows. Maize that isn’t well spaced will require more water and fertilizer and will still lead to a lower yield.
Maize can be planted alongside beans, potatoes, peas, and cucumber. You should also weed early to avoid competition for water and nutrients.
There are six different type of Maize/corn namely:
- Flint Corn: Flint corn is a maize variant with a hard outer layer and low water content. Flint corn is multicoloured and is used ornamentally as decorations during Thanksgiving in the United States.
- Dent Corn: is a maize variety with a high soft starch content. Dent corn is commercially grown for grain and fodder.
- Pod Corn: also known as wild maize is known best as the progenitor for corn, that is, the earliest variety of corn or the variety that corn originated from.
- Popcorn: is a variety of corn that expands and puffs when heated. When heated, the kernel ruptures and allows the content of the kernel to expand, cool and finally set into popcorn.
- Flour Corn: is a variety of corn with a soft endosperm used primarily to make corn flour.
- Sweet Corn: is a variety of corn that has high sugar content and is mostly considered a vegetable. Sweet corn is best when eaten fresh or canned to preserve its freshness
The Economic Importance of Maize
- Maize is a good source of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Especially since a lot of small-scale farmers are involved in maize farming, it makes it an affordable source of vitamins and minerals for people living in rural areas
- Maize farming can be processed into a number of products which creates an extra source of income to maize farmers, maize processors, and distributors. Some of the products that can be gotten from maize include:
- Corn Starch: is used as a thickener for liquid food, is the main ingredient in biodegradable plastic, an ingredient that can be used to replace talc in body powder, and is also used by dry cleaners to keep clothes firm.
- Oil: corn oil gotten by squeezing the germ of the corn is majorly used to make crunchy, sweet popcorns. It can also be used to make margarine and in the production of soap, cosmetics, etc.
- Glue: you can make a business out of processing corn germ into a component that makes industrial glue stronger. The production of industrial glue using corn gem reduces the cost of production.
- Ethanol: an alcohol that can be mixed with gasoline and used in powering vehicles can be made by distilling corn. Gasoline usually contains ethanol in the ratio 10:90 (10 – ethanol, 90 – gasoline) in order to oxygenate the fuel and reduce air pollution. Ethanol is an effective solvent that can be used in household products like paints and varnish.
Ethanol is also very effective in killing microorganisms which makes it a common ingredient in cosmetics, beauty products, and hand sanitizers. Its ability to effectively kill microorganisms makes it an excellent preservative. Ethanol also helps distribute food colouring.
3. Let’s not forget the amazing dish that can be made from maize/corn. Corn can be cooked, roasted or blended and used in delicacies like fried rice, jollof rice, etc. Blended corn can be used for pancakes, baby food, and baking. Maize is also a cereal that is vital to the growth of a child. Asides that, one of the products of maize, corn flakes takes about a minute preparation time which makes for a quick meal for children.
4. There is also groundbreaking research on maximizing the maize yield by using disease-resistant varieties. These research discoveries put Nigeria on the map and encourage investment into our Agric research institutes.
Maize is a large contributor to the nation’s economy. According to Statista, Nigeria produced 7.2 Million metric ton of maize in 2016/2017. Imagine if we could increase Maize production in Nigeria by another 10%! This would raise our production to about 8 Million metric tons which would have a significant impact in the nations gdp.
More employment opportunities will be created and more maize can be processed into different products. This in turn will lead to a drop in the cost of purchasing maize and maize products. The result of all these? More people will be able to afford good, quality food.