Losses from maize attacks to reduce as IAR showcases impact of hybrids

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Losses from maize attacks to reduce as IAR showcases impact of hybrids

Maize Farmers in Nigeria would soon regain strength from the economic losses from insect pests and drought running into N9 billion annually as the Institute for Agricultural Technology Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, sets to deploy hybrids Maize (Tela Maize) to farmers.

With a population of over 200 million, maize production capacity is still limited at about 12 million metric tonnes, against the 18million metric tonnes consumption capacity, leaving a deficit of 6million metric tonnes on importation.

Besides the dependence on foreign products, the impact of climate change on agricultural produces which currently limits maize production yield per hectare at between 2.5 to 3 tonnes; is not only grossly inadequate for the country’s size but also remained a credible source of worry on food security policy.

Speaking at the field trial of TELA Maize Hybrids evaluation at Minjibir local government area of Kano, yesterday, Executive Director IAR, Professor Mohammad Ishiyaku, disclosed that with the new variety, scientifically constructed to resist insect pests and drought attack, farmers will now save an estimated ₦9 billion (USD24M) annually incurred on insecticide spray of 500hectares land and drought effects.

According to him, out of the N9billion estimated, farmers will save over 3 billion naira from insecticide spray on 500hectares land while over 6billion naira would be minimized from the impact and effect of drought on maize annually.

savings farmers will make from this maize variety is estimated to be over 3 billion naira from insecticide spray of 500hectares land and over 6billion naira from drought effects

Professor Ishiyaku explained that IAR has recorded significant strides since the development of the genetically modified TELA Maize Project began, and added that positive results are being recorded from various field trials,s especially on the climate-resilient variety that is drought tolerant.

He underscored successes gathered on field tests on resistant to stem boring insects-the stem borer and fall armyworm, saying the outcomes will largely contribute to solving farmers’ needs while improving the economy and self-sufficiency in food production.

Prof Ishiyaku stated that the Institute for Agricultural Research, Samaru, in its almost 100 years of existence has not only developed and released crop varieties that are climate resilient and farmer-friendly but recognizes the importance of cutting-edge tools in sharpening research output. He said IAR is combining conventional and modern genetic engineering tools to discover scientific solutions to farmers and consumer problems.

“Today, IAR is bringing to the notice of the public, its success on the development of Maize that is resistant to the notorious stem boring group of insects including the dreadful Fall Army Worm which is known to decimate farmers maize production. This is our humble contribution through the dedication of our Scientists to achieving results and ensuring food security.

“In addition, this new maize variety which we have seen its performance on the field this morning, is also tolerant to drought which will go a long way in increasing farmers production by 90 per cent even with little rain. The essence of this Field Day is to practically demonstrate to stakeholders, especially the Seed Companies who are saddled with the responsibility of producing quality seeds for Nigerian farmers, to have firsthand experience on the attributes of this maize variety on the field. The level of tolerance to drought and resistance to insect boring pests is not in doubt.”

On his part, the principal investigator of TELA Maize Nigeria, Prof Rabiu Adamu, explained that the trial started in Nigeria in 2019 with a view to mitigating the challenges of fall armyworm and stem-borers as well as drought capable of reducing farmers’ yield by 80 percent if not appropriately managed.

The Professor of Entomology, Adamu noted that with the advent of TELA Maize, farmers will reduce the use of pesticides on maize to the barest minimum thereby ensuring a safer environment and healthy populace. He emphasized that TELA Maize Project is a public-private partnership led by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) in seven African countries Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nigeria and South Africa.

The farmers expressed optimism that the new technology will enhance their productivity and boost their income generation.

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