Agricultural sector experts have emphasized that the introduction of TELA maize in Nigeria will play a significant role in enhancing food and nutrition security, aligning with the federal government’s agricultural transformation agenda,leadership reports.
The Nigerian government has given approval for the commercial release of transgenic insect-resistant and drought-tolerant maize varieties, collectively known as TELA maize. The National Committee on Naming, Registration, and Release of Crop Varieties, Livestock Breeds/Fisheries (NCNRRCVLF), chaired by Prof Olusoji Olufajo, granted this approval at its 33rd meeting held at the National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB) in Ibadan on January 11, 2024.
Dr. Canisius Kanangire, the executive director of AATF (African Agricultural Technology Foundation), expressed the organization’s steadfast commitment to addressing challenges faced by farmers across the continent in response to this development.
Prof. Garba Sharubutu, the executive secretary of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), hailed the approval of TELA maize in Nigeria as a crucial milestone showcasing the potential of biotechnology in ensuring food and nutrition security, as well as enhancing the livelihoods of farming households in Africa.
Similarly, Prof. Mustapha Abdullahi, the director-general of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), celebrated the release, anticipating a reduction in pesticide usage on maize, which would be beneficial for humans, livestock, and the environment.
Dr. Sylvester Oikeh, the TELA Maize Project manager, applauded Nigeria’s decision and urged other African countries to follow suit for the benefit of farmers. He commended the scientists for their dedication and hard work in bringing the product closer to farmers.
Partners involved in the TELA Maize project include National Agricultural Research Institutes in Kenya, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and South Africa, along with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and Bayer. The project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID.
The development of improved maize varieties was led by the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) Samaru, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, through the TELA Maize Public-Private Partnership coordinated by AATF, an international not-for-profit organization dedicated to empowering smallholder farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa with agricultural innovations for food and nutrition security.