From Abdullahi Hassan, Zaria
Tela maize is the new buzz in the agricultural sector of the North. This is the view of a majority of farmers who converged for a stakeholders’ interactive forum in Kano State.
Kaduna State chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAM), Nuhu Aminu, acknowledged the awesome quality of this variety of maize, recently developed at the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria. He observed that it has the capacity to open up a new vista for farmers in the North.
He hinted that discussions shared with the chairmen of their association in the North West and North East regions on the new variety of maize, the aggregate position is that the new maize has great potential for improved output in arid and desert encroached areas of the region:
“The new variety, which is resistant to pests and tolerant to drought, will afford local farmers the opportunity to engage in dry season farming, without the usual fear of insects, pests or shortage of rain water. Farmers here are indeed delighted to have this variety; certainly our problem has come to end.”
He said they are planning to set up a committee to dialogue with the IAR on the possibility of a collaborative effort towards developing the variety in large quantity. He admitted that a major factor militating against the mass production of maize in the region was the lack of good seeds that could resist diseases and overcome the seizure of rainfall in many parts of Northern Nigeria:
“We have a rainy season that lasts for a maximum of four months. Maize is so sensitive to rain and pests as such much care is needed for higher yields. With Tela, the importation of maize by will be a waste of resources, since our farmers would be able to produce enough of it for our domestic need and for our export.
“As soon as IAR released the variety, AFAN would push it for immediate use. We want to IAR to continue organising this type of farmers’ interactive forum so that more farmers will be educated on the innovation.”
Research Coordinator, Prof Rabiu Adamu, said the invention of Tela maize was informed by the need to arrest the problem of pests and drought in the production of maize: He quoted a journal, “African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF)” 2020, as saying: “New maize pests in Nigeria is projected to have destroyed up to 20 million metric tonnes of maize in Africa each year, which is enough to feed 100 million people.
“Tela maize is genetically modified through a technology, which has identified ways of mitigating drought risk, stabilizing yield and encouraging the small scale farmers to adopt best management practices.
“Trials in Africa have shown that Tela maize resistant variety gives a yield advantage of more than 50 per cent, compared to non-transgenic variety, due to its ability to protect damage.”
He said the research undertaken by the Zaria team of researchers was at its final stage, noting that the seed industry was being taken round the research field to get a fill of the farmers. He expressed delight at the way seed companies and institutes, especially the National Seed Council, had attended and applauded the efforts of the institute’s research on the new variety.