FG Launches High-yielding Tela Maize Varieties to Boost Food Security

•Says crop safe for consumption, profitable to farmers

•To save N2 billion in annual production costs

James Emejo in Abuja

Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, has officially unveiled the Tela maize varieties – a high yielding transgenic varieties that confers resistance to major pests including as stem borers and fall army worm, and have moderate drought tolerance.

The new maize varieties would also save Nigerian farmers about N2 billion annually in production costs through the reduction in chemical insecticide sprays as well as ensure sustainable food security in the country and across the West African sub-region.

The minister assured Nigerians of the safety of the bio-crop, adding that the federal government would not venture into anything that will jeopardise their health, safety and security – allaying concerns in some quarters over the safety of genetically altered food crops.

He said the country has adequate safeguard measures to ensure that no harm emanates from the new technology, adding that Tinubu understood the place of seeds in achieving the food security mandate.

He said the launch Tela maize remained a major feat for President Bola Tinubu’s administration amid the current food security challenges.

He said the innovation would triple current yields, thus resolving current food challenges as well as alleviate poverty by economically empowering farmers.

Abdullahi further describe the Tela maize launch as a game-changer towards achieving the Renewed Hope agenda of the present administration.

Stakeholders including the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) and seed companies have all welcomed the new maize variety.

The minister said the minister remained committed to supporting scientific innovation that will revolutionise agriculture in the country, adding that the new maize varieties would guarantee food security for Nigeria and Africa at large, and commended African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR) Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and other partners for the scientific breakthrough.

Executive Director, IAR, Prof. Ado Adamu Yusuf, said the Tela maize release was a testament to the commitment of the federal government towards ensuring not only safety of lives and property, but food security, and the future of the country.

He said the institute was doing everything possible to support government’s effort through research that is people and environment friendly by adhering strictly to the protocol for such research mandate.

Yusuf said the maize varieties will save Nigerian farmers about N2 billion annually in production costs through the reduction in chemical insecticide sprays as well as ensure sustainable food security in the country and across the West African sub-region.

He said, “I dare to say, if Nigeria is food secured, the entire West Africa region will be free from the challenges of insecurity.”

He said the Tela maize project started over five years ago, when Nigeria joined the TELA Maize Project Public-Private Partnership in 2019 to address the major challenges confronting farmers across the African continent drought and insect pests such as the fall armyworm and stemborers.

According to him, “The SAMMAZ-T series of maize hybrids were therefore, developed to address these challenges headlong. They offer three in one protection to maize which include drought tolerance, resistance to fall armyworm, and resistance to stemborer insect pests.

“This triple protection assures the farmer of yield advantage and reduces the use of chemical pesticides, saving farmers money and reducing the environmental and health hazards associated with the use of these pesticides.”

He further disclosed that the IAR was currently working assiduously to introduce flood tolerant crop varieties that will mitigate the current challenges of floods devasting farmers’ fields in the country due to climate change occasioned by global warming, thus leading to enormous losses.

The IAR boss said when such varieties are ready in no distant time, “our farmers will breathe a sigh of relief from perennial floods”.

Chairman, AATF, Prof. Aggrey Ambali, said the launch marked a milestone not only for Nigerian agriculture but for the entire African continent, and congratulated the federal government for its visionary leadership and commitment to agricultural innovation.

He said, “Nigeria has consistently demonstrated a forward-thinking approach to agriculture, recognizing the critical role that innovative technologies play in transforming the sector.

“The approval and introduction of TELA Maize and other biotech crops are clear indicators of this progressive mindset. By embracing these advancements, Nigeria is not only enhancing its own food security but also setting a powerful example for other African nations to follow.”

He said the Tela maize variety has a remarkable yield potential of up to 10 tons per hectare-compared to the current average of 3 tons per hectare, representing a groundbreaking development in “our collective efforts to boost Nigeria’s agricultural productivity.”

He said, “This substantial increase in yield is poised to significantly bridge the annual maize production gap, thereby contributing immensely to national food security and the livelihoods of countless farmers.”

Executive Director, AATF, Dr. Canisius Kanangire, said the maize varieties remained testament to the commitment by AATF and the federal government towards bringing advanced, resilient crop varieties to our farmers.

He said, “Our collaboration with the Federal Government of Nigeria and the National institutions and agencies has been critical to this progress.

“We have witnessed, firsthand, what collaboration across ministries, organizations, and sectors can achieve. Under the TELA Maize Project, the federal government facilitated the operational environment for key ministries and departments to work together and collaborate towards attainment of their mandates.

“We witnessed government bodies working with institutions such as AATF and the private sector for the good of the country. We continue to witness, as is obvious today at this launch, the joint ownership of initiatives such as Tela maize. We all take pride in what has been achieved.”

“This launch also highlights the importance of technology and innovation in our development agendas. The use of biotechnology in agriculture holds great potential towards making a difference in our communities.”

Related Articles