The Federal government has approved the commercial release of the transgenic insect resistant and drought tolerant maize varieties known as TELA maize.
The approval was granted by the National Committee on Naming, Registration and Release of Crop Varieties, Livestock breeds/Fisheries (NCNRRCVLF) headed by Prof Olusoji Olufajo at its 33rd meeting at the National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB), Ibadan, Oyo State.
This was made known in a joint statement issued by the Principal Investigator, TELA maize Project, Prof. Rabiu Adamu, Communication Officer for African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Alex Abutu and the OTF Lead, TELA Maize Project at the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State.
The four varieties approved are: SAMMAZ 72T, SAMMAZ 73T, SAMMAZ 74T, and SAMMAZ 75T.
The release and registration of the four varieties followed environmental release approval in October 2021 granted by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA).
Development of the improved 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.
The Nation learnt that the new maize varieties are drought tolerant and are resistant to stem-borer and fall armyworm, resulting in yield advantage of up to 10 tonnes per hectare under good agronomic practices.
However, the national average for similar hybrids is six tonnes per hectare. The varieties are suitable for Rain Forest, Guinea, and Sudan Savannas.
The TELA Maize Project is currently being implemented in five countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, and South Africa.
Executive Director, IAR, Prof Ado Yusuf, said the varieties have undergone thorough research and have been developed using the tools of biotechnology over several years of continuous testing and revalidation.”
Also, AATF’s Executive Director, Dr Canisius Kanangire, said the release of TELA Maize in Nigeria will contribute to food and nutrition security in line with the federal government’s agricultural transformation agenda.
He however reaffirmed AATF’s commitment to addressing challenges faced by farmers across the continent.
The Executive Secretary, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), Professor Garba Sharubutu, said the approval of the TELA Maize variety in Nigeria is a critical milestone that confirms the potential of biotechnology in ensuring food and nutrition security, and improved livelihood of farming households in Africa.