See the New Maize Variety that is Drought Tolerant and Resistant to Fall Armyworm

See the New Maize Variety that is Drought Tolerant and Resistant to Fall Armyworm

 

The ongoing research on a transgenic maize called TELA, which is water efficient, drought tolerant and also fights insects and pest such as fall armyworm, has progressed significantly at the research farms of the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR).

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This new maize variety which was developed to resist pest and withstand drought is undergoing its third Confined Field Trials (CFT) at the research farms of the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

According to the findings from the first and second phase of the trials of the TELA Maize, it showed that it will save farmers production cost up to hundreds of millions of naira from pesticides spray to control stem borer and the Fall Armyworm.

The Chairman Maize Farmers Association of Nigeria (MAAN), Kaduna state, Mohammed Saliu, said farmers have been looking for this kind of variety for a long time that considering the kind of land in Nigeria and the climatic condition, TELA maize would be the game changer in maize production.

In his words, “What the IAR is doing now will certainly assist the farmers greatly, because for long, we have been looking for this kind of variety that will assist our farmers.

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“Considering the nature of land and environment that we have in this country, we will like to have this kind of maize. Am quite sure that if this maize is distributed to our farmers, it will help our farmers to get more yields compared to the one they are using currently”, he said.

Furthermore, Saliu said maize farmers have been battling with an average of 4 to 5 tons per hectare from the variety they use, but with the TELA maize, they are hopeful of getting about 8 tons per hectare which almost double of their initial harvest.

“The variety of maize we are using now gives us about 4 to 5 tons per hectare, but with what we have here, we can get up to 8 tons per hectare, this is a better advancement in maize production”, he added.

The Principal Investigator of TELA Maize, Professor Adamu Rabiu, said the main objective of the TELA Maize Project, is to make drought-tolerant and insect-pest protected maize available and affordable to smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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He said drought-tolerant and insect pest protected maize varieties will help produce more reliable harvests and better grain quality due to reduced insect damage for smallholder farmers.

Professor Rabiu highlighted some of the benefits of TELA maize, which includes, better drought tolerance, protection against borers, and significant protection against fall army worm (FAW).

He said it will improve economic savings for farmers as they will spend less money on procuring and using insecticides/pesticides which are harmful chemicals thus reducing their exposure to their hazards.

“Farmers will enjoy higher returns and premium prices from their maize products stemming from improved yields and better grain quality. Economic losses incurred by farmers in Nigeria from fall Armyworm to the tune of over $268 million experienced in previous years would be reversed.

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“The addition of insect protection will also reduce pesticide use which will bring benefits to both the environment and human health. A more reliable harvest will give farmers additional confidence to invest in their farms and improve their farming practices”, Professor Rabiu added.

Special Adviser to Kano State Governor on Agriculture, Hafiz Mohammed, said the TELA maize would assist farmers by increasing their yield by 50 per cent and the Kano State government would key into the technology with the aim of increasing maize production in the state.

“TELA maize will assist our farmers seriously, s we heard from the developers of the crop, that it will increase yield by 50 per cent. In 2019, Nigeria produced about 18 million tons of maize so, if you multiply this by 2, definitely, it will change the life of our farmers.

“Kano state government will key in to adopt this technology, which is why I am here”, Mohammed said.

Professor Rabiu further explained that “GM insect-pest protected maize reduces the need for application of broad-spectrum insecticides which reduces exposure of farmers to insecticides, especially for those using hand sprayers thus brings benefits to both the environment and human health.

The TELA Maize Project is a public-private partnership that is coordinated by African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), a non-profit organization that facilitates public-private partnerships for access and delivery of appropriate technologies to farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa.

It started on the continent in 2018 and builds on 10 years of excellent conventional breeding work on the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) Project that was formed in 2008 in response to a growing call by African farmers, leaders, and scientists to address the devastating effects of drought.

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