The National Varieties Release Committee (NVRC) has released 49 high-yielding crop varieties to boost Nigeria’s agricultural productivity.
The release of the new crop varieties was announced on Wednesday by the NVRC chairman, Oladosu Awoyemi, during its 30th meeting of the National Committee on naming, registration and release of crop varieties, livestock breed/fishes in Ibadan.
Mr Awoyemi explained that all the 49 hybrid varieties of 11 crops submitted for consideration, registration and release by the Nigerian research institutes and private sector seed companies were approved for release.
“The released crop varieties include two rice hybrids namely Arize 6444 Gold and Arize TEJ Gold.Two high protein-rich oat varieties namely SAMOAT 1 and SAMOAT 2, three Durum wheat varieties namely LACRI-WHIT 12D and LACRI- WHIT 13D,” he said.
Also released are three “proVitamin A” hybrids cassava, namely; UMUCASS 52, UMUCASS 53 and UMUCASS 54.
“Nineteen maize varieties namely ILOMAZ 2; HAKIM 1, HAKIM 2; HAKIM 3; DK7500; SAMMAZ 64, 65, 66, 67; Drought TECO WE8206; WACQH6, WAC55E, WAC14M5, among others.” he said.
On the activities of NVRC, Mr Awoyemi said the decree that set up the committee makes it mandatory “for anybody who wants to release new varieties of crop into the Nigerian farming community to send samples of that seed to a research institute that is relevant for it”.
“The research institute will test such seeds across the ecological zones for which it is recommended.
“And, when they are satisfied that it is suitable for cultivation in Nigeria, then, they will bring it to the committee to officially consider it for release on registration,” he said.
The NVRC Chairman said, “We have a national register of all important products that are produced in Nigeria that have been certified by the committee.
“And, if there is any new research officer who wants to go into any crop he has to go into the register to see what has been done in the past before he can now start on what to do in the future,” he noted.
In December 2020, Nigeria released 18 varieties of high-yielding crop varieties to farmers during the 29th meeting held that year. This brings the total high-yielding varieties of crops released to farmers to 67 within two years.
In his remarks, Mohammed Alhassan, Jigawa State Commissioner for Agriculture who sponsored the release of Durum Wheat said, “This is the first time hard wheat (durum wheat) would be registered and released to Nigerian farmers.”
He said Durum wheat is very high in yielding as it has very low fertiliser requirement, and produces big grains which are attractive and that the price is different in the markets which will give farmers high earnings.
The commissioner explained that the expectation of farmers in Jigawa was to continuously improve varieties of various crops planted in the state.
Mr Alhassan said the vision of the state government “is to make sure that the economy of the country was improved through agriculture for the benefits of Nigerians, especially people of Jigawa.”
In a similar manner, Sheu Ado, the national coordinator for maize research, said the development in the new crop varieties were encouraging.
He noted that some crops, which were not even grown previously in the country, such as oats, “are now being cultivated to improve the availability of food in the country.
“If we can grow our own oats, then, such an amount of money spent in foreign exchange on importation of oats will be conserved for the country,” he said.
In his remarks, Olusegun Ojo, the Director-General of National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), said the 49 crops that have been officially released by the committee would be passed on to the council.
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He explained that the council would make arrangements for wide multiplication of the crop for distribution to all farmers across the country.
“The expectations of the farmers will be higher yields, better resistance crops and at the end of the day, what farmers will be taken home as a result of the higher yields would be higher productivity and more income in their pockets.
“The process of getting a crop released for broad distribution involves testing the seed at research institutes and on farmers’ fields across the country.
“It is only when representatives of farmers have accepted that the crop is good for them and that such crop is better than the old varieties, then we bring it to the committee for consideration for official release,” he said.
Abdullahi Mustapha, director general, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), said the agency was saddled with the responsibility of looking into the genetic constituents of the crops.
“Looking at it from that angle, this is the transformation of the crops and bringing in new varieties of the crops; it affects gene constituents so the gene threat is what defines the quality, the yield and characters there,” the official said.