The National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) said it will work with the Agricultural Research Institute (IAR) of Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria to promote a genetically improved maize variety.
Professor Abdullahi Mustapha, Director General of NABDA made it known by informing reporters during the harvest of the third round of trials for the TELA maize project on Tuesday in Zaria.
Mustapha said the collaboration would improve the use of biotechnology, research and development in agriculture.
He said the harvest had shown remarkable progress as it eliminated the challenge of the Fall Armyworm, which had wreaked havoc on corn growers a few years ago.
Mustapha added that NABDA will continue to work with IAR and other institutions across the country to promote research and development in biotechnology in agriculture, to revive the sector and make it a net contributor to the country’s GDP. .
“In everything you do, some people will deny, there is no scientific evidence that improving crops using biotechnology has a negative effect on health.”
The NABDA boss challenged anyone with scientific proof that crops grown by biotechnology cause harm to humans to present such evidence.
Senior researcher Professor Rabiu Adamu said the research focused on increasing maize productivity in Nigeria.
Adamu noted that in the recent past, maize yield was very low, at less than three tonnes per hectare.
He said, however, that the new seed variety developed by the institute’s research had increased production to eight tonnes per hectare.
The lead investigator said the institute is currently working on new hybrids and varieties that are resistant to drought and pests such as stembora and FAW.
He added that the institute had conducted three trials and the results were consistent, and would soon reach a dosage for environmental release and other work outside the research station.
“We will go to the field of state farmers to test the viability of the variety and its performance.
“We hope that in two years the variety will be available to Nigerian farmers so that they can cultivate it and improve the overall maize productivity in the country.
“In 2020 Nigeria produced 12 million metric tonnes of maize and the country needs 18 million metric tonnes of maize to feed its people and meet its industrial needs.
“Therefore, we need to do more to bridge the gap,” Adamu said.
Earlier, Professor Mohammad-Faguji Ishiyaku, director of IAR, said that the savings farmers would make from maize would be over 3 billion naira from spraying insecticides on 500 hectares of land and 6 billion naira from the effect of drought.
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