By Mustapha Yauri
Zaria (Kaduna state) April 20,2021(NAN) The National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) says it will work with the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University Zaria to promote genetically improved maize variety.
Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, Director-General, NABDA made this known while briefing newsmen during the harvest of third set of trials for the TELA Maize Project, on Tuesday in Zaria.
Mustapha said that the collaboration would enhance biotechnology usage, research and development in agriculture.
He said the harvest has shown remarkable progress, as it has taken out the Fall Army Worm challenge, which had caused huge devastation to maize farmers some years back.
Mustapha added that NABDA would continue to work with IAR and other institutions across the country to promote biotechnology research and development in agriculture, to revive the sector and make it a net contributor to the country’s GDP.
“In each and everything you do some people will negate it, there is no scientific evidence that says improving crop using biotechnology has negative effect to health.”
The NABDA boss challenged anybody who has scientific proof that biotechnology developed crops cause ailments in humans, to present such evidence.
Prof. Rabiu Adamu, Principal Investigator said the research was about increasing the productivity of maize in Nigeria.
Adamu noted that in the recent past maize yield were very low at less than three tons per hectare.
He however said that the new seed variety developed by the institute’s researches has raised output to up to eight tons per hectare.
The principal investigator said that the institute was presently working on new hybrids and varieties resistant to drought and pests such as stembora and fawl army worm.
He added that the institute had conducted three trials and the results were consistent, and would soon summit a dosier for environmental release and further work outside the research station.
“We will go to the farmers field in the states for them to test the viability of the variety and its performance.
“We are hoping that in two years, the variety will be accessible by Nigerian farmers so that they can grow it and improve the general productivity of maize in the country.
“In 2020, Nigeria produced 12 million metric tons of maize and the country requires 18 million metric tons of maize to feed its people and supply it’s industrial requirements.
“Therefore, we need to do more to bridge the gap,” Adamu said.
Earlier, Prof. Mohammad-Faguji Ishiyaku, Director IAR, said the savings farmers would make from the maize would be over N3 billion from insecticides spray of 500 hectares land and N6 billion from drought effect.
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