From Okwe Obi, Abuja
Executive Director, Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Professor Mohammed Ishiyaku, has dispelled harmful rumours of Tela maize, stating that the variety is safe for consumption.
This is even as he said the adoption of Tela maize by only 10% of farmers will generate N58 billion annually to the country because of the yield advantage of 19% compared with conventional maize varieties currently grown by farmers.
Professor Ishiyaku, who stated this at a press briefing yesterday in Abuja, explained that the variety will also expand farmers options to either grow genetically modified TelaL varieties or conventional Drought Tego or local open-pollinated varieties just like farmers in other part of the world.
According to him, Tela maize varieties are genetically modified to tolerate mild drought and to self-protect against certain insect pests especially stem borer and fall armyworm (FAW) and that the choice of technologies to use rests with the farmers.
He stressed that with the recent approval given by the National Biosafety Management Agency, Tela maize varieties would be evaluated by farmers across the maize growing regions in the country for them to select varieties that they prefer for cultivation.
“Tela maize varieties when adopted by just 10% of Nigerian farmers will give additional cost benefit of fifty-eight billion naira annually to the country because of the yield advantage of 19% compared with conventional maize varieties currently grown by farmers.
“Farmers are already benefiting from the varieties in protecting against the target pests, especially FAW.
“It is safe and hence Nigerian farmers should also benefit. Tela Bt maize has been under cultivation in South Africa by smallholder farmers since 2016,” he said.
Also speaking, Executive Secretary, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), Prof. Garuba Sharubutu, said that all agricultural research in the country is tailored towards achieving the federal government policies and programme on food security and sufficiency.
Prof. Sharabutu said Nigerians have no reasons to fear any product from any of the government funded research institute as all necessary measures are taken to ensure they followed approved regulations guiding such research.