Experts commend FG for approving new maize variety
By Matthew Eloyi
Agricultural experts have commended the Federal Government of Nigeria for approving the evaluation and open cultivation of the new TELA maize variety.
It was reported that the TELA maize variety developed by researchers at the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, is pest resistant and tolerate moderate drought.
The announcement of the approval is contained in a statement on Sunday, signed by Mr Alex Abutu, Communication Officer, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) West and Central Africa and Mr Yakubu Dodo, Information Officer, IAR, Zaria.
Some of the experts who spoke to journalists on Tuesday in Ibadan said that the approval was a welcome development towards ensuring food security in Nigeria.
Dr Festus Olasupo, a Plant Geneticist at the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), Ibadan, lauded the government’s approval of the variety saying that maize production was critical to food security in the country.
He noted that maize was one of the most important crops used as food for humans, livestock and industries in Nigeria.
“There should be no issue on this since the process has gone through necessary scientific procedures before the approval was given by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA).
“This will have positive effects on farmers; we know that great losses are incurred by maize farmers every year due to devastating effects of armyworm infestation and prolonged drought brought about by climate change.
“If this new variety is adopted by farmers, it will increase maize yield on the farm, boost farmers’ income/livelihood and improve market economy along the maize value chain,” he said.
On ways to improve maize production, Olasupo advised the government and stakeholders to provide adequate funding for research, especially breeding research.
According to him, crop varietal development is capital intensive.
Also, a Geneticist and Molecular Biologist at the University of Lagos, Dr Bayo Ogunkanmi, said the TELA maize release was a welcome development.
In his words, “Before government releases any Genetically Modified crop to the public, it must have gone through biosafety regulation and certified safe for consumption and with no adverse effect on the environment.
“Farmers will find it profitable in terms of yield, productivity, and resistance to biotic/ abiotic stresses.
“It has no negative effect on farmers at all; agric extension agents must have conducted farmer’s participatory approach to seek farmers’ interest, choice and preference on a particular crop.
“The government cannot just introduce such a variety without testing it on secluded field trials to see the impact before introducing it to farmers.”
The geneticist urged the government to imbibe a farm settlement approach and make the settlement conducive for living, in terms of social amenities that would encourage young school leavers to settle for agriculture.