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    Nigeria approves open cultivation of TELA maize

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    Naija247news Editorial Teamhttps://www.naija247news.com/
    Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

    By Deji Abdulwahab
    Abuja, Oct. 11, 2021 The Federal Government has granted environmental approval for evaluation and open cultivation of TELA Maize in the country.

    TELA Maize is a new maize variety developed by researchers at the Institute for Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria that resists fall armyworm, stem borers and tolerate moderate drought.

    This is contained in a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday by Mr Alex Abutu, the Communications Officer, West and Central Africa, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).

    According to the statement, the government decision was contained in a certificate issued to IAR by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), the federal government agency mandated to regulate genetically modified products in the country.

    “The Certificate dated Oct. 8, 2021, with permit code no. NBMA/CM/003 was issued to IAR for General\Commercial Release of TELA Maize Genetically Modified for Drought Tolerance, Resistance to Stem Borer and Fall Armyworm.

    “A decision document accompanying the certificate from NBMA said that in arriving at the decision to grant the permit, the agency took into consideration advice of the National Biosafety Committee, National Biosafety Technical Sub-Committee and the risk management report provided by the applicant.”

    It said that the agency was convinced that there were no known adverse impacts to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, taking into account the risk to human health.

    “The permit, pursuant to this decision, is without prejudice to other extant legal requirements.

    “This permit authorises the permit holder and persons covered by the permit to commercialise the TELA Maize genetically modified for drought tolerance and insect resistance,’’ the decision document from the NBMA stated.

    Reacting to the decision, Prof. Ishiyaku Mohammed, the Executive Director, IAR, said It was really inspiring for IAR to secure NBMA approval for the commercial release of the drought tolerant and insect resistant Maize (TELA MAIZE).

    “This goes to further highlight IAR’s capacity and commitment to providing effective solutions to agricultural problems facing our farmers and optimising food security for Nigerians.

    “The approval will open the way to combating the devastating effects of both drought and insect pests through the deployment of this new variety of Maize into our farming system.

    “The next step is to further evaluate the performance of this new variety by farmers on their fields in all the major maize growing belts in Nigeria.

    Thereafter, we shall seek another approval by the National variety release committee before making the seeds commercially available for farmers to plant in the 2023 cropping season.’’

    Dr Canisius Kanangire, AATF Executive Director, said the approval had shown that Nigeria was really the giant leading the way in Africa and ensuring that smallholder farmers benefit from life changing technologies that had transformed farming in other parts of the globe.

    “The approval by the government of Nigeria is a sign that we are making good progress, especially in our quest to expand the options for smallholder farmers on the continent to profit from their labour by using affordable technologies that enhance productivity and reduce incidents of insect pests’ infestation.

    “TELA Maize is coming at a time when farmers are spending so much to reduce insect and pest attacks as well as battling with the issue of drought.

    “With TELA Maize, farmers in Nigeria will have relief from frequent constant chemical sprays which affect their health.
    “The savings from chemical use can be converted to address other family needs,’’ Dr Kanangire added

    Dr Sylvester Oikeh, AATF TELA Maize Project Manager said this was the beginning of a new era for maize farmers in Nigeria who had suffered greatly from the twin problem of drought and devastating insect pests occasioned by climate change.

    According to him, the resources and time spent in protecting maize against insect pests will be used for other operations. The maize produced will provide healthier grains for farmers and consumers alike.

    Prof. Rabiu Adamu, the TELA Maize Principal Investigator said with the deregulation, the Institute was now permitted to conduct multi-location trials to evaluate the yield and adoptability of the TELA hybrids across the different agro ecologies in Nigeria.

    “The highest yielding hybrids exhibiting tolerance to drought and resistant to stem borer and fall armyworm will be released to farmers for cultivation. We hope to register some of the outstanding hybrids to commercialise through Nigerian seed companies for farmers to grow in the 2023 rainy season.

    “The deregulation will fast-track our work to achieve the mission of the project to avail farmers with transgenic maize to solve the challenges of drought, stem borer and fall armyworm,’’ Prof. Adamu said.

    TELA Maize Project in Nigeria is part of an international Consortium coordinated by AATF, involving Bayer, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), and the National Agricultural Research Systems of seven countries.

    These include Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda since 2018.

    The Project builds on gains from a decade of excellent breeding work to develop conventional climate-smart drought tolerant maize known as DroughtTEGO varieties.

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