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April 24, 2024
You are currently viewing FG approves release of new maize variety, ‘Tela Maize’ for cultivation

FG approves release of new maize variety, ‘Tela Maize’ for cultivation

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By Tosin Kolade

The Federal Government has approved the commercial release and open cultivation of a new maize variety, Tela Maize.

The maize was developed by researchers at the Institute for Agricultural Research, IAR, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria that resists fall armyworm, stem borers and tolerate moderate drought.

This decision was made during the 33rd meeting of the National Committee on Naming, Registration and Release of Crop Varieties, Livestock breeds/Fisheries (NCNRRCVLF) in Ibadan.

The committee, headed by Prof. Olusoji Olufajo, granted approval for four innovative varieties: SAMMAZ 72T, SAMMAZ 73T, SAMMAZ 74T, and SAMMAZ 75T.

These cutting-edge maize varieties boast drought tolerance and resistance to stem-borers and fall armyworm, promising a yield advantage of up to 10 tonnes per hectare.

Under optimal agronomic practices, it surpasses the national average for similar hybrids at 6 tonnes per hectare.

The suitability of these varieties for Rain Forest, Guinea, and Sudan Savannas positions them as a potential game-changer for maize production in Nigeria.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Stem-borers and fall armyworm have been significant challenges affecting maize production in Africa.

The latter is capable of destroying up to 20 million metric tons of maize annually, enough to feed 100 million people.

The approval follows the environmental release granted by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) in October 2021.

The development of these groundbreaking varieties was spearheaded by the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) Samaru, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, under the TELA Maize Public-Private Partnership coordinated by AATF.

Currently implemented in five countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, and South Africa – the TELA Maize Project signifies a collaborative effort to address agricultural challenges.

Expressing satisfaction with the release, Prof Ado Yusuf, Executive Director of IAR, commended the scientists for their dedication and emphasised the extensive research and testing that went into the development of these maize varieties.

AATF’s Executive Director, Dr Canisius Kanangire, highlighted the contribution of TELA Maize to food and nutrition security in alignment with the Federal Government’s Agricultural Transformation agenda.

The release in Nigeria is seen as a significant step towards addressing challenges faced by farmers across the continent.

Professor Garba Sharubutu, the Executive Secretary of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), labeled the approval of the TELA Maize variety as a critical milestone in leveraging biotechnology for ensuring food and nutrition security.

This, he said ultimately improves the livelihoods of farming households in Africa.

Prof. Mustapha Abdullahi, Director-General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), emphasised the potential reduction in pesticide usage on maize, benefitting humans, livestock, and the environment.

Dr Sylvester Oikeh, the TELA Maize Project Manager, expressed encouragement by Nigeria’s decision, urging other African countries to follow suit for the benefit of farmers.

The TELA Maize project involves collaboration with various partners, including National Agricultural Research Institutes in Kenya, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and others.

It has funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID. (NAN) www.nannews.ng

Edited by Sadiya Hamza

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