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Mechanized Maize Farming (Cultivation) and Maize Flour, Bran, Germ and Grits Production in Nigeria; The Opportunity.

Maize (Zea mays, L.) is a staple food of great socio-economic importance in the Sub-Saharan Africa of which Nigeria is inclusive with per capital kg/year of 40. Nigeria has an annual maize production in excess of 7 million metric tons. In terms of volume produced, maize is the third most important cereal grown in Nigeria after sorghum and millet. It comes after wheat and rice in terms of world importance.

However, the unfolding performance of maize can be attributed to the fact that, bulk of the country’s farm, over 90% is dependent on subsistence agriculture (small holder farmers) with rudimentary farm system, low capitalization and low yield per hectare. Moreover, price fluctuation, diseases and pest, poor storage facilities and efficiency of resource utilization are the identified problems of low maize production in Nigeria.

The situation highlighted above has led to a deficit in supply of maize which current stands at about 14 million tons annually to the 10.3 million tones being supplied annually.

Maize after the wheat & Rice is the most important cereal grain in the world, providing nutrients for humans & animals and serving as basic raw material for the production of oil, protein, alcoholic beverages, food stuff & starch.

Nigeria is currently the tenth largest producer of maize in the world, and the largest maize producer in Africa (IITA, 2012). It is estimated that seventy percent of farmers are smallholders accounting for 90 percent of total farm output.

Yield per hectare of 2-4 tons per hectare should be expected though the actual yield is a function of the seedling used and the agricultural practice carried out during the life span of the crop. It takes about 90 to 120 days for maize to mature. Fertilizer application would help to improve soil fertility and crop yield. You can use 200 kg of NPK fertilizer (25:10:10) per hectare.

Maize gives the highest conversion of dry substance to meat, milk and eggs compared to other cereal grains. Maize is a valuable feed grain, because it is among the highest in net energy content and lowest in protein and fibre content. Primary products derived from dry milling of maize are maize flour, maize bran and germ.

Corn meal / flour is a meal (coarse flour) made from dried maize (corn). It is a common staple food, and is ground to fine, medium, and coarse consistencies, but not as fine as wheat flour.

It is used in biscuit and bread production. It can be fortified with Soya meal resulting in a high protein, high-energy food. Maize flour is now used regularly in many households and eateries.

Bran, outer coat of a cereal grain—e.g., wheat, rye, and corn—mechanically removed from commercial flour and meal by bolting or sifting. Maize bran is extensively used as feed for farm animals.
Bran is used as food for humans (in cereals or mixed with flour in bread) to add roughage (i.e., cellulose) to the diet. It is also used in dyeing and calico printing.

The nutritional value of bran depends on the content of flour particles (the less flour and the more shell, the lower the nutritional value). The average composition of wheat bran is 14.8 percent water, 15.5 percent protein, 3.2 percent fat, 8.4 percent cellulose, 53.2 percent nitrogen-free extractive substances, and 4.9 percent ash. One hundred kg of bran contains 71–78 feed units and 12.5–13 kg of digestible protein.

The germ, which constitutes 8-14% of the total weight of the corn grain, includes 84-86% of the total oil content of the corn. The germ is the primary product for making corn oil and one of the important ingredients of animal fodder.

The germ oil contains unsaturated fatty acids (linoleic 56%, oleic 30%, linolenic 0.7%) and 14% of saturated fatty acids. Its protein part includes about 37% globulins, 51% glutelin, 5% zein, and 7% of non-soluble oils. Maize germ also carries a wide range of amino acids and is rich in vitamin Е (tocopherol), beta-sitostiron and phytin.

Grits refers to a ground-corn food of Native American origin that is common in the Southern United States and eaten mainly at breakfast. They are also used in the production of beer.

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