New Maize Disease Surfaces in S’West, Threatens Food Sufficiency

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Ademola Babalola in Ibadan

At a time when tomato scarcity has continued to rage due to a pest called Tuta absoluta a new disease has been uncovered in the South-west geopolitical zone of the country.

This time, it is a maize disease, according to the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Moor Plantation, Ibadan.

The IAR&T which is the zonal coordinating research institute in the South-west in a statement issued by its Head of Public Relations Unit, Mr. Adeniyi Amusat, declared that an uncommon pest/disease is presently ravaging maize on the field in the South-west agro-ecological zone of Nigeria which may likely lead to scarcity of maize in the region.

The disease, according to THISDAY findings, has rendered many hectares of maize plantations this year malnourished and in some instances, stunted and yellowish, without maize buds for eventual harvest. And many farmers are ruing the development, describing it “as an unprecedented phenomenon in recent years.”

But the institute, while calling on all stakeholders to aggressively address the looming danger maintained that if not checked there may be scarcity/shortage of maize as experienced with tomato recently.

The statement noted that the new discovery portends serious danger for production and consumption of maize in the nation as it forms larger percentage of llivestock feeds formulation especially in poultry.

It however assured that IAR&T which is the institute saddled with maize production mandate in the region is already setting machinery in motion to control the menace.

The statement read: “This is to inform members of the public that an uncommon pest/disease is presently ravaging maize on the field in the South-west agro-ecological zone of Nigeria. Consequently, if not checked there may be scarcity/shortage of maize as experienced with tomato recently.”

According to the statement,” This portends serious danger for the nation as maize is an important staple food for the country and forms larger percentage of live stock feeds formulation especially in poultry. IAR&T is the institute saddled with maize production mandate in South-west Nigeria and the institute has already set machinery in motion to control the menace.”