The Federal government has granted environmental approval for cultivation of TELA Maize, a new maize variety developed by researchers at the Institute for Agricultural Research, IAR ,Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria that resists fall armyworm, stem borers, and tolerate moderate drought.
The government decision was contained in a certificate issued to IAR by the National Bio-safety Management Agency (NBMA), the federal government agency mandated to regulate genetically modified products in the country.
The Certificate dated October 8, 2021, with permit code no. NBMA/CM/003 was issued to IAR for General\Commercial Release of TELA Maize Genetically Modified for Drought Tolerance, Resistance to Stem Borer and Fall Armyworm. It comes into effect from October 8, 2021, to October 5, 2024.
A decision document accompanying the certificate from NBMA said that in arriving at the decision to grant the permit, the agency took into consideration the advice of the National Bio-safety Committee, the National Bio-safety Technical Sub-Committee, and the risk management report provided by the applicant.
“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.
Reacting to the decision, Prof. Ishiyaku Mohammed, Executive Director, IAR, said It is really inspiring for IAR to secure NBMA approval for the commercial release of the drought-tolerant and insect-resistant Maize (TELA MAIZE).
“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.
The AATF Executive Director, Dr. Canisius Kanangire, noted that the approval has shown that Nigeria is really the giant leading the way in Africa and ensuring that smallholder farmers benefit from life-changing technologies that have transformed farming in other parts of the globe.
“The approval by the government of Nigeria is a sign that we are making good progress especially in our quest to expand the options for smallholder farmers on the continent to profit from their labour by using affordable technologies that enhance productivity and reduce incidents of insect pests’ infestation.
Dr. Sylvester Oikeh, AATF TELA Maize Project Manager explained that this is the beginning of a new era for maize farmers in Nigeria who have suffered greatly from the twin problem of drought and devastating insect pests occasioned by climate change as they spend resources and time in protecting maize against insect pests.
Prof. Rabiu Adamu, the TELA Maize Principal Investigator affiremed that with the deregulation, the Institute is now permitted to evaluate the yield and adaptability of the TELA hybrids across the different agro-ecologies in Nigeria.
“The highest yielding hybrids exhibiting tolerance to drought and resistance to stem borer and fall armyworm will be released to farmers for cultivation. We hope to register some of the outstanding hybrids to commercialize through Nigerian seed companies for farmers to grow in the 2023 rainy season.