The Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) has said the TELA maize variety – currently undergoing national performance trial in Nigeria – is a high impact-solution the nation needs to overcome her national maize deficiency.
The executive director, IAR, Prof. Mohammad Ishiyaku, made this assertion at the TELA Maize seeing-is-believing/field day at the institute’s station in Minjibir, Kano State.
The TELA maize is a genetically modified variety engineered to resist the fall armyworm, stem-borer and mild drought. The variety was developed by the IAR under an international collaboration coordinated by the Africa Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).
According to him, the TELA maize is a potentially high impact variety that should come into economic circulation in Nigeria’s agriculture system as soon as possible.
“This variety has a lot of benefits for Nigerians and, more importantly, will assist in meeting the national maize demand deficit which currently stands at 6 million metric tonnes,” he added.
Ishiyaku further noted the giant strides recorded by the project in developing a drought-resistant, climate-resilient variety that resists the attacks of the stem-borer and fall armyworm, as a noble contribution to solving farmers’ needs and improving the economy.
“The savings farmers will make from this maize variety is estimated to be over N3 billion from insecticide spray of 500 hectares and over N6billion from [the effects of] drought. This is to ensure that we continue to expend government resources strictly on solving those problems that will lead to national economic growth and self-sufficiency in food production.”
He said the field day presents an opportunity for farmers and seed companies to judge for themselves how far Nigerian scientists have gone with the development of a new maize variety that is resistant to fall army worn, stern borers and mild drought.
“The essence of this field day is to practically demonstrate to stakeholders, especially the seed companies who are saddled with the responsibility of producing quality seeds for Nigerian farmers, to have firsthand experience on the attributes of this maize variety on the field. The level of tolerance to drought and resistance to insect boring pests is not in doubt,” he added.
Earlier, the principal investigator, TELA Maize Nigeria, Prof. Rabiu Adamu, said that the trial started in Nigeria in 2019 to mitigate the challenges of fall armyworm and stemborers, as well as drought capable of reducing farmers’ yield by 80 per cent if not appropriately managed.
He said, with the TELA maize, farmers will reduce the use of pesticides on maize to the ‘barest’ minimum thus ensuring a safer environment and healthy populace.
“Nigeria produces only about 12 million metric tonnes of maize below the 18million metric tonnes required with a deficit of 6million metric tonnes. Also, the current yield per hectare of maize stands at 2.5 to 3 tonnes which is grossly inadequate for a population of over 200million people. TELA maize when released to farmers will, therefore, bridge this gap by increasing their average yield to 8 tonnes per hectare,” he said.
A statement by the communication officer, West and Central Africa, AATF, Mr. Alex Abutu, said the TELA maize project is a public-private partnership led by the AATF in seven African countries – Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nigeria and South Africa.