Nigeria Launches 4 TELA Maize Varieties To Enhance Food Security


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Nigeria has achieved a significant milestone with the launch of four TELA maize varieties: SAMMAZ 72T, SAMMAZ 73T, SAMMAZ 74T, and SAMMAZ 75T.

These varieties, publicly presented in Abuja, were developed by the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, with support from the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).

During the launch event, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Security, Sen. Aliyu Abdullahi highlighted that the TELA maize varieties aim to tackle drought, and diseases and enhance farmers’ productivity. He emphasised that this initiative aligns with President Bola Tinubu’s ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda.  Abdullahi assured that the varieties, developed by Nigerian researchers at IAR are safe for food and feed. Measures have been established to ensure the safe application of these products, overseen by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), the Federal Ministry of Health, and the National Agricultural Seed Council.

“We have the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Federal Ministry of Health, National Agricultural Seed Council and other agencies to supervise the adoption and application of the food crop,” Abdullahi stated. He reaffirmed the ministry’s support for this initiative, emphasising its alignment with President Bola Tinubu’s ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda.

Executive director of the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Ado Adamu Yusuf recounted the journey which began over five years ago, when Nigeria joined the TELA Maize project public-private partnership (PPP) in 2019. This partnership aimed to address major challenges confronting African farmers, such as drought and insect pests like the fall armyworm and stemborers.

“The SAMMAZ-T series of maize hybrids were developed to tackle these challenges head-on,” Yusuf explained. “They offer 3-in-1 protection to maize, including drought tolerance, resistance to fall armyworm, and resistance to stemborers.”

Yusuf highlighted that this triple protection ensures a yield advantage for farmers and reduces the need for chemical pesticides, saving costs and minimizing environmental and health hazards. He added that the SAMMAZ-75T TELA Maize, coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, will be distributed to farmers, helping to combat hunger and malnutrition in Nigeria and across Africa.

Chairman of the board of trustees of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Aggrey Ambali celebrated the launch as a milestone for Nigerian agriculture and the African continent. The TELA maize varieties boast a remarkable yield potential of up to 10 tons per hectare, compared to the current average of 3 tons per hectare, representing a groundbreaking development in boosting Nigeria’s agricultural productivity.

“The resilience of TELA maize against drought and pests is a testament to the power of biotechnology in addressing critical agricultural challenges,” Ambali noted. “By mitigating these threats, we can ensure more stable and reliable food supplies, which are crucial for the socio-economic stability of our communities.”

Ambali emphasised that the commercial release of TELA maize in Nigeria serves as a beacon of hope and a model of excellence for other African countries. He called for a collective effort to embrace innovative technologies, which can lead to a food-secure Africa, empower farmers, strengthen economies, and nourish populations.

“Nigeria has consistently demonstrated a forward-thinking approach to agriculture, recognising the critical role of innovative technologies in transforming the sector,” Ambali stated. “The approval and introduction of TELA maize and other biotech crops are indicators of this progressive mindset. By embracing these advancements, Nigeria is enhancing its food security while setting a powerful example for other African nations.”

Executive director of AATF, Canisius Kanangire also spoke on the benefits of TELA maize varieties, noting their resistance to pests and tolerance to drought. These qualities will boost maize yields, providing more food and income for farmers in Nigeria. Additionally, reduced pesticide use will lower production costs, making farming more profitable and sustainable.

“Today’s launch is not just about introducing new maize varieties but heralding a new era of agricultural innovation,” Kanangire remarked. “By promoting policies that support agricultural innovation, the Federal Government of Nigeria has created an enabling environment for the development and use of genetically modified crops that are safe, productive and beneficial to small-holder farmers and the environment.”

The launch of these TELA maize varieties represents a significant step toward enhancing food security, economic growth, and sustainable agriculture in Nigeria and across Africa.

Source: Science NIgeria