Nigeria is expected to save over N360 billion which it spends importing over 4 million metric tons of maize annually.
Nigeria produces an avarage of 11 million metric tons of maize annually, while it’s annual local consumption stands at 15 million metric tons, which leave it with a deficit of 4 million metric tons which it imports.
That means Nigeria is expected to import 4 million metric tons of maize at the cost of N90,030 per ton in order to satisfy local demand.
TELA maize is a new variety of maize which is Water Efficient, meaning that it is drought tolerant and also fights insects and pest such as Fall Armyworm.
TELA maize project builds on progress made from breeding work under the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA).
The principal investigator and head of the project at the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), Professor Rabiu Adamu said preliminary findings noted that under stem borer and fall armyworm infestation, the TELA maize varieties gave over two tons yield advantage relative to the best varieties currently being grown by farmers.
Professor Rabiu said these preliminary findings from the first phase of the trials showed that maize farmers in the country stand to benefit when the maize is commercialized as the varieties will save farmers production cost up to hundreds of Million of naira from pesticides spray to the control stem borer and the fall armyworm.
Farmers in Nigeria suffered great loss from Fall Armyworm in the 2017/2018 planting season, over $268 million was lost from 7.8 million hectares of farmland damaged by the pest in just four states of Abia, Ekiti, Ondo, and Oyo as reported in November 2018 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
To control the pest, farmers are expected spray at least three different types of pesticides for a minimum of three times in each season.
Findings showed that it requires at least N46,000 to spray one acre (0.405 ha) of farm each season to give good protection against the Fall Armyworm, but not many farmers can afford this; and in most cases, they end up abandoning their farms to the pest.
“Africa cannot experience the long desired green revolution without biotechnology because most of the challenges facing agriculture today whether drought or pest and diseases can be solved using biotechnology.
” Instead of using the conventional method to breed, the breeders are now embracing this technology just to improve the efficiency and expedite the process of breeding or developing new crop varieties.
” So it is better to adopt the technology now or we adopt much later when the products will be produced elsewhere and dumped on us.
” Countries in Africa example Nigeria that has the necessary biosafety regulations to ensure only safe GM products are promoted; need to embrace GM crops for farmers. Other farmers in different parts of the world are greatly benefiting from the products of GM technology and Nigeria should not be left out” Project Manager TELA Maize Project, Dr. Sylvester Oikeh said.
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