Tag Archives: corn

The Feel of Gold

The rainy season in Nigeria marks the unveiling of wealth; wealth in a form unknown to many with untapped potential. Many people do not understand the value of corn, and this is because the average Nigerian comes across this staple product in its season as boiled or grilled food options. Others might know it as part of livestock by-products, and bakers are familiar with some of its products such as cornflower and corn syrup.

But, corn is much more than food for humans and livestock. Did you know that corn is the U.S primary feed grain which accounts for more than ninety-five percent of total feed grain production and use? Or that the world’s consumption of maize exceeds a hundred and sixteen million tons yearly? 

As cited by the National Center for Biotechnology Information; United States, China, and Brazil are the top three maize-producing countries in the world, producing approximately 563 of the 717 million metric tons/year. If corn wasn’t so valuable, why do developed countries produce so much of it?

Corn has numerous industrial uses. Apart from an increase in Gross Domestic Product through corn exportation, its value to the internal economy is noteworthy. Corn is the main ingredient in the production of ethanol, which is a gasoline additive, and as the demand for fuel cannot be neglected in any country, it highlights the huge importance of corn to any nation.

Corn is processed into food and industrial products including sweeteners, starch, corn oil, baby food, beverage, adhesives, cosmetics, livestock by-products, industrial alcohol, and fuel ethanol. There are so many options in these categories to be explored extensively by individuals and organizations in the creation of jobs, products, and services to achieve a stable and affluent economy. 

Gold has to go through a process of intense purification for its attractive exterior to be revealed. Corn is a natural resource better than gold because with little effort and the right moves, on the right scale, it is worth more than gold with half the purification process. It is no wonder corn is known as ‘Yellow Gold’.

My Corn Experience

Bukola says if you order food in a restaurant and there is corn-on-the-cob amongst the options, it is going to be an expensive meal. This is true. It’s almost amazing how this saple food can be transformed in a variety of ways to increase its value, and presence in dishes.

For me, corn holds a special meaning. It reminds me of rainy days and evenings spent looking over a vendor’s open cauldron of boiling water choosing the juciest corn in the lot to buy. It reminds me of cozy moments seated in the midst of my siblings munching on boiled corn all the while telling myself not to think of the regret I’ll have when it gets stuck between my teeth. 

Corn to me is warmth, and as its season approaches though I am not home with my family, I can’t help but be overwhelmed with an unexplainable joy. 

The Naija Corn Festival organized by TBAH is another reason the corn season this year holds a special appeal to me. It is more than just corn; it is me sharing the joy I derive from the food with other people, and learning more of its uses.

It’s fascinating how corn as a food is malleable. Growing up, I only ever ate boiled corn with pear (left to become tender in hot water then rubbed over in salt before eating). I couldn’t imagine any other pairing with it. Although my older brother preferred his corn ‘roasted’, we all ate corn with pear. 

During the mandatory year Nigerian youths spend in a programme called NYSC (National Youth Service Corps), I spent my time outside the state I grew up in. There, I encountered people savouring corn with coconut. At first, I couldn’t grasp how such a pairing would taste, but trying it out reminded me why you can eat a meal in one form, and still be amazed by its flavour when it is made differently. That is the beauty of food.

I became curious about other ways and with other pairings corn can be enjoyed. Some popular meals with corn as a core ingredient in Nigeria are:

Akamu/Ogi: The raw form of ogi is made from yellow or white corn. There is no Nigerian household that doesn’t know ogi. In many homes, having ogi as part of your breakfast is a Saturday tradition.

Jollof Rice and Corn: Nigeria is renowned for its smokey jollof rice recipes. An upgraded form of party jollof rice is jollof rice with corn. It is not uncommon to find sweet corn in fried rice amongst other ingredients, but with jollof rice, it unlocks a whole new flavour.

Igbagwu Oka: This is of Igbo origin. It is made with fresh corn, dried corn, spices, vegetable oil, termites then wrapped in Uma leaves and boiled.

Beans and Corn Porridge (Adalu): This delicacy is made by boiling beans and shelled corn mixed with spices and palm oil.

Corn Fufu: This is made with a mix of corn flour and cassava flour, and enjoyed with soup. It is usually made to cater to a large crowd in parties.

What corn foods have you tried out, and which is your favourite?

 

The rain Corn

In the build up to Naija Corn Fest 2020, we had a series of educative posts about corn, why it is important as a staple food, Africa still importing corn from developed countries and also the economic value reffered to as “Yellow Gold” in developed countries. 

Barely a week after, a CBN circular spread like wild fire saying form M (form M is a mandatory statutory document to be completed by all importers for importation of goods into Nigeria )has been banned for all importation of Corn/Maize. This means no form M,no official (cheap ,regulated) rates for buying dollars for foreign exchange.

The CBN circular stopping form M

This invariably means no regulated funds for buying corn. i.e it is an outright ban on importation of Corn. It is also worthy to note that Corn has been on the export prohibited  list before now, meaning we do not have enough so we can not sell out. All importation and exportation of corn/maize and seeds are now prohibited.

How ordinary people will be affected

Imported corn will probably still be available at the mercy of merchants who dare to smuggle in the produce. This means Corn importation has now been declared a contraband/prohibited item just like the status of imported rice into the country. In the long run, everybody feels the heat as everything we use corn for gets to increase in price. However it still feels lopsided as other processed corn items/derivatives importation have not been banned e.g corn starch etc.

As a result of the ban, the Animal feed industry was the first to cry out, according to Dr. Folarin Afelumo, President of  Feed Industry Practitioners Association of Nigeria, FIPAN said “the scarcity of grains (maize), if not urgently tackled, spells doom for the industry which is worth over N500 billion”.

Animal feeds

Speaking with a chicken poultry farmer, a measure of feed usually goes for #96 now goes for #185 and it is still rising which will push up the eventual cost of chickens they raise. Egg sellers have added money and its only a matter of time for baked goods to go up.

The question is how then do we increase our production as a country to become self sustainable.

The real issue and what can be done

According to a report by IITA, Africa imports 28% of its required maize grain from countries outside the continent as most of the maize production in Africa is done under rain-fed conditions. Irregular rainfall can trigger shortages and famines during occasional droughts. Today, a certain percent of required maize by Nigeria is lost as a result of importation ban, another percent lost as a result of sketchy rainfall in cities within Nigeria where the maize/corn is grown, yet another loss as a result of poor farming methods and all the youths gone to the city for the white collar jobs. And to top it all, we are still missing some as an aftermath of Covid-19 .What percentage of required corn do we have left for the teeming population?

To bring our corn production to speed as a nation, we need to start massive mechanized farming, irrigation and definitely more than one corn planting season in a year by rotating all the vast expanse of land we have as a nation. There is no better time to plant and invest in corn production.

Naija Corn Festival 2020

We planned to host the First naija corn festival on the 4th July 2020 but Covid-19 happened.
In place of that we decided to host a CSR programme bringing corn to our community for free and we urged people to post their corn eating pictures with #naijacornfest on social media to join our e-corn party. Most people did not post the pictures directly, rather they sent them to us to post and till date ,we have some yet to make it to the gram.

Some of the pictures on Instagram tagged #naijacornfest

The 4th of July 2020 dawned as a rainy day yet my spirits refused to be down, I was optimistic and excited as getting to plan the day itself was a leap of faith .Thus the rain was no discouragement, we were ready to take it on plus God blessed us with amazing set of people who stepped out of their comfort zone to be a part of the event. Though we started later than planned we were able to touch locations within Surulere, and Kilo as our final bus- stop.

Amazing crew braving the rain to share Corn

Courtesy of the rain, we could not do as much video as we would have loved to, plus we totally forgot about the instgram live promise due to the downpour. see here with no sound  the short clip on Instagram live which would have been great content for the video but our video recorder battery had shut down by then. Below is the event re-cap.

 

 

We stopped by at some amazing peoples house like Ajala Nene and  Devee Apparels to give them corn and by this time I was soaked to my shoes , I had to beg for tea (black) to get a bit of warmth. Our final stop was Yakoyo eatery on Ogunlana for take – out hot Amala. By the time I got home, I was already sneezing and my nose was blocked. For the next 2 days, I upped my intake of Vit C to 2000gms and by the third day was as fit as a fiddle.

A big shout out to all our friends,family and people who came across the adverts and registered, to those who went out of their way to cook /buy corn that day ,we celebrate you specially. Up till the 14th of July, we were still receiving pictures with people joining from all over Nigeria, the UK and the US.

While preparing for the Corn  Festival, I met a young man who printed on the packaging used for the corn,he supported us by posting about the event and recently also celebrating this hardworking and diligent Corn seller who is his Mother.

We celebrate you hardworking Mother for all that you do.

The Corn conversation is just getting started.

Have a Corntastic day !

 

The Naija Corn Festival

We have a dream, to create new tourism attractions for Nigeria and Africa as a whole. Thus the introduction of our flagship event named “Naija Corn Festival” which we intend to develop and deliver at a global standard to attract visitors from all over the world.

Corn festivals are not new as there are countries all over the world who currently celebrate this with history of the festival spanning over 40 years e.g. South Africa, United states, Canada, Britain and Australia. The United States is the largest producer and exporter of corn, accounting for more than half of world corn exports with production in the 2018 -2019 at an estimate of 366.6 million metric tons. Investopedia 2019. “Corn is sometimes referred to as “yellow gold” because it is used to make so many products and byproducts that end up throughout the economy from, food store shelves to gas pumps to industrial chemical plants” Reuters 

Maize aka Corn is the most important staple cereal crop in sub- Saharan Africa. It contains approximately 72% starch, 10% protein and 4% fat, supplying an energy density of 365Kcal/100g and is grown throughout the world (Ranum et.al 2014). Corn is rich in fibre and plant compounds that aid digestive systems and eye health. It is high in carbs but when eaten in moderation and cooked with methods to enhance the nutritional value, it can be part of a healthy diet. According to IITA – “Maize, Zea mays L. (corn), is the most abundantly produced cereal in the world. All parts of the crop can be used for food and non-food products.

How much corn did Nigeria produce in 2019 ? How much of this corn was utilized or wasted because we could not preserve nor process them into finished products to reach consumers timely. Currently the scarcity of corn for local farmers in poultry business is making the news.

The largest African producer is Nigeria with over 33 million tons, followed by South Africa, Egypt, and Ethiopia. Africa imports 28% of its required maize grain from countries outside the continent as most of the maize production in Africa is done under rain-fed conditions. About 50 species exist and consist of different colors, textures, and grain shapes and sizes. White maize fetches premium prices in Southern Africa where it represents the main staple food, whereas yellow maize is preferred as animal feed in most parts of South America and the Caribbean. Yours sincerely prefers yellow corn especially when it comes to making Pap aka akamu/ogi.

The desire to host a Naija Corn Festival came while reminiscing about the traditional yam eating festival in my village. I really do not remember nor recollect the details of the ceremony but remember vividly my Mum hammering on us not to eat the new yam until the festival in the village is done. Over time the tradition has worn off as being a Christian today this could be tantamount to idolatry.However, I miss the thrill, revelry and jamboree of having so many yam delicacies to eat all in one day.

There may be a counter argument as an organization focused on tourism which is in sync with preserving our cultures and tradition. But the truth remains that if we do not engage our youth and populace who are mostly not interested in the yam festival happening in the village, other world festivals and carnivals will have them travelling abroad to attend.

What started as reminiscing is actually  deeper when scratched, as a company we position ourselves as a hub for “education and rejuvenation “and this is what the event will achieve.

The Naija Corn Festival will be an opportunity to showcase our indigenous foods made with corn. We will also  highlight and have sessions on how to develop the available growth areas in food processing, how to create value,new products and business opportunities. . Also based on the need and awareness for healthy eating today, it is essential to enrich maize based meals thus we will bring nutritional experts to educate on how to avoid mal -nutrition and vitamin deficiency diseases.

Why Corn ?

Because Corn is everywhere and keeping it out of your shopping basket is a challenge.
Next time check the label of canned goods you want to buy and see how corn has sneaked in everywhere.
Derivatives of corn get used as a food filler, texturizer, emulsifier, sweetener, preservative, adhesive and many other applications.