Nigeria begins trials for new Tela maize variety

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By Olayinka Olawale

Lagos, June 22, 2022 The National Biotechnology Development Agency (NBDA) says a trial phase for the new TELA Maize is ongoing in some states to understudy the variety among farmers.

Dr Rose Gidado, the Deputy Director, NBDA, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos.

Gidado said that farmers would start planting the crop this year’s planting season.

Tela Maize is a Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) crop variety designed to resist insect pests like fall armyworm and stem-borers and to tolerate moderate drought.

Naija247news reports that the Federal Government through the NBDA in 2021 granted environmental approval for evaluation and open cultivation of new maize variety crop.

The crop was developed by the Institute for Agricultural Research, (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria in collaboration with African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Kenya and National Biotechnology Development Agency.

Gidado noted that the IAR in ABU which have the mandate for maize improvement had started distributing the seeds to farmers.

She said that the maize would undergo two trial cycles in 2022 and 2023 before it would be recommended for commercialisation.

According to her, investigation trials on the new Tela Maize is now ongoing in some states such as Adamawa, Kaduna, Kano and Jigawa.

“The planting season is just beginning and they are just distributing the seeds to farmers.

“The farmers will plant the maize alongside other varieties, and then at the end of the harvest, the farmers will know which seed is better.

“For now, we cannot determine the level of acceptability because it needs to undergo two trial cycles before it can be recommended for possible commercialisation.

“We want the farmers to speak for themselves, we don’t want to put words in their mouth and the trials will do justice to it,” he said.

Gidado noted that Tela maize was a hybrid crop, drought tolerant and resistant to pest like fall armyworm, stem borers.

She said that the maize has yield advantage, insect protection advantage and water usage advantage unlike other varieties.

Gidado said that Nigeria and six other African countries namely Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mozambique and South Africa had adopted the Tela Maize to improve farmer’s production in the continent.

“Tela Maize will revolutionise the agricultural sector when it is commercialised because it will have impact on farmer’s production.

“The farmers will see the benefit, nobody will tell them because they will experience it themselves. The maize is drought tolerant and that means it is climate smart already.

“Maize is a rain fed crop but because of the climate change, you cannot predict the weather, it may be too much rain or too little rain but this seed is different.

“Whatever happens, the Tela Maize can withstand any condition because it is resilient and that is what the global community is looking for now.

“Seeds that are resilient and can withstand any condition, weather and climate are what we really need,” she said.

Speaking on the commercialisation process, Gidado said that once the cycles were completed and confirmed that the farmers accepted it, the process would begin.

She said that the National Variety Release Committee in charge of approval would then approve it for commercialisation.