By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
Major stakeholders and experts in the agricultural sector from within and outside Nigeria, have asserted that Tela Maize technology is the best option available for Nigerian farmers as far as maize cultivation is concerned.
The stakeholders who hail from research institutions such as the Institute of Agriculture Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, National Biotechnological Agency Abuja, African Agricultural Technological Foundation (AATF) as well as others, made their findings known at a one-day interactive seminar with farmers, at Asaa Pyramid in Kaduna on Wednesday March 22, 2023.
According to them, the Tela Maize seedlings would not only reduce cost of production for farmers, but give the maximum yield as well as resist the different varieties of diseases that have ravaged other maize seedlings in the country .
Dr. Rose Gidado, a Director Agricultural Department, National Biotechnology Agency Abuja, explained that Tela is a genetically modified seedling of maize that is meant to resist attacks from fall Army and Stem Bora worms, which have ravaged maize and caused financial losses to farmers .
She further explained that the Tela Maize is also resistant to drought, adding that when planted and rain doesn’t fall as expected, the seedling would still thrive.
“Tela Maize gives higher. yields than the conventional maize .While the ordinary maize gives about 1.4 tonnes, the Tela gives about 5.6 tonnes.
“Since, it yields more tonnes, it means more money for Nigerians farmers.
“Farmers that have access to the Tela Maize would smile because they only need to do chemical spray two times, instead of the normal four times, thereby cutting down costs,” she explained.
She also revealed that Nigerian farmers have accepted the two varieties of Tela Maize that were introduced to them.
The director also refuted fears that genetically modified seedlings are unsafe adding that such seedlings have undergone all the necessary safety checks before being handed out to farmers.
Another agricultural expert, Prof Rabiu Adamu, Principal Investigator Tela Maize, Institute of Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, added that if the Tela Maize is fully adopted by Nigerians farmers, it would go a long way in solving the maize shortage that the nation currently suffers.
“If adopted, the Nigerians farmers would harvest about seven tonnes of maize per hectare, instead of the two to three tonnes, which which would go a long way. In addressing the food insecurity in maize production in the country.
The university don also reiterated what Dr. Gidado said earlier about the safety of the Tela Maize.
“Tela Maize has gone through the necessary regulatory requirements to ensure the. Safety of the product. The product was cleared by the agencies of Federal Government before it was sold out to the farmers.
“We have the certification from the necessary regulatory agencies,” he assured.
Director with African Agricultural Technological Foundation (AATF), Kenya, Dr. Sylvester Oikeh stated that Tela Maize would go a long way in addressing the shortfall in maize production in the country .
“Currently, Nigeria cultivates 5 to 6 million hectares of land, but only get one tonne of maize per hectare, but in South Africa, the yield per hectare is 5.6 tonnes. This is made possible with the use of Tela Maize Technology.
“If you are growing maize on a hectare of land with the normal maize, you will have about a hundred tonnes of maize, while a farmer growing maize on a hectare of land with the technology, would harvest about 140 tonnes of maize.
“With the current issues with climate change, the threat of pests and diseases, the trials all over Africa, the Tela Technology has proven to be resistant to drought and diseases,” he stressed.
He further saud that the technology is not new in Africa, but was recently introduced to Nigeria .
“The Tela Technology has been around in African countries such as South Africa, Mozambique and Ghana, but it only came to Nigeria few years ago,” he said.