The Federal Government has approved the evaluation and open cultivation of TELA Maize, with effect from October 8, 2021, to October 5, 2024.
TELA Maize is a new maize variety developed by researchers at the Institute for Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. It is water-efficient, drought-tolerant and also fights insects and pests such as fall armyworm.
The approval was communicated via a certificate issued to IAR by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA).
“The Agency was convinced that there are no known adverse impacts to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, taking into account risk to human health. The permit, pursuant to this decision, is without prejudice to other extant legal requirements.
“This permit authorises the permit holder and persons covered by the permit to commercialise the TELA Maize genetically modified for drought tolerance and insect resistance,” the decision document from the NBMA stated.
On his part, the IAR Executive Director, Professor Ishiyaku Mohammed, lauded the NBMA for its approval of the new Maize variety. He noted that the approval would mean more benefits for the farming system in Nigeria.
“This goes to further highlight IAR’s capacity and commitment to providing effective solutions to agricultural problems facing our farmers and optimizing food security for Nigerians.
“The approval will open the way to combating the devastating effects of both drought and insect pests through the deployment of this new variety of maize into our farming system.
“The next step is to further evaluate the performance of this new variety by farmers on their fields in all the major maize growing belts in Nigeria.
“Thereafter we shall seek another approval by the National variety release committee before making the seeds commercially available for farmers to plant in the 2023 cropping season,” Mohammed explained.
The approval has received commendations from various stakeholders who have described the feat as impressive and capable of transforming the country’s agricultural ecosystem.
AATF Executive Director, Canisius Kanangire said the approval was a step in the right direction. He commended the country’s efforts to assist smallholder farmers vis-à-vis other efforts to ensure they leverage other technologies beneficial to their business as farmers.
“TELA Maize is coming at a time when farmers are spending so much to reduce insect and pest attacks as well as battling with the issue of drought.
“With TELA Maize, farmers in Nigeria will have relief from frequent constant chemical sprays which affect their health. The saving from chemical use can be converted to address other family needs,” he noted.