By Nurudeen Alimi
IN a bid to help farmers increase their yield by 43 percent and improve on food security in the country, the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna State, in partnership with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) is giving assurance that Nigeria’s maize production, will soon be strengthened with the cultivation of hybrid crop, TELA maize.
IAR Head of Research team and Principal Investigator of the new maize variety, Professor Rabiu Adamu, who made this known during a town hall meeting with farmers, said the Institute has released over 60 varieties of crops to promote food security in the country, with the latest TELA maize hybrid, expected to increase the yields of farmers.
According to him, “we are trying to ensure that Nigerian farmers grow a hybrid of maize that will boost food security and also ensure adequate export for the country.”
Specially, the Coordinator of TELA maize project across Nigeria, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzanian, South Africa and Uganda, Dr. Sylvester Oikeh, disclosed to Maize Farmers/Processors and Marketers in Kaduna State, said: “We have seen from our trials across Africa that farmers growing this technology get more yields. If our farmers adopt this technology, they can easily increase their yields as much as 43 per cent.
“This means that, if you are growing the TELA maize, you will have more yields, if you don’t do that, you have to spray your crops against this pest, a minimum of three times per season, using three different chemicals. It reduces the extra cost of chemicals and spraying.”
According to him, TELA maize is developed to be resistant to drought; it would also address some of the problems faced by farmers.
“However, we have seen that people say, it is not safe, but we know why they are saying that, it is political, we know it’s safe. We have demonstrated its safety even before its approval. The Environmental Management Agency has done all the evaluation to show that farmers and consumers are protected, they have cleared the issue of safety, and it is safe.
“Currently, Nigeria plants six to 6.5 million hectares, but our yield is still at the level of an average of 1.6 tons per hectare.
“In countries where they have adopted this technology, like South Africa, their yield is 5.6 tons per hectare. With the current issue of climate change, droughts are becoming more frequent, and more pests are coming in.
“We have a pest called Fall Armyworm, which is ravaging maize farms. It came into Africa in 2016 and it’s ravaging maize farms in trillions of naira, but with a technology like TELA maize, it gives protection and also drought tolerance, which helps farmers who may have lost their crops to have something.”
On his part, the Director, National Biotechnology Development Agency, Dr Rose Maxwell Gidado explained that TELA maize is a genetically modified maize that works against worm attacks. According to her, “Each year farmers rush for the seeds because they have experienced the yield, the seeds are resilient.”
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