June 11, 2024

Food Security: FG, AATF launch TELA maize, to save $256m annually from pesticide importation

Bayer set to hold Maize Conference

By Gabriel Ewepu

ABUJA- AS part of efforts aimed at ensuring food security in Nigeria and save huge amounts of money spent on importing agro-chemicals, the Federal Government, African Agricultural Technology Foundation, AATF, and other stakeholders, Tuesday, launched the TELA Maize varieties, which would save $256 million annually on pesticide importation.

The Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abdullahi Aliyu, commended and described the launch as apt and timely considering President Bola Tinubu’s ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda on food security, which is a major contributor to poverty alleviation, a game changer for all farmers to embrace.

Aliyu assured and maintained that the Federal Government is committed to supporting scientists ensuring food security in Nigeria, urging all to focus on the positive aspects of things rather than negatives, and he also added that Nigeria has agencies to safeguard mechanisms in place to curb negativities.

“I want to assure Nigerians that all the safeguard measures will be working perfectly to ensure that there is nothing untoward with respect to this new technology.

“I therefore want to call on our partners to know that we have just started and we need to do more, we need to go deeper, and we need to also allow Nigerians to participate in the development of this technology.

“That way, there won’t be any problem with acceptability or doubt. And I want to congratulate you once again, the ATF and our funders, the Bill and Melinda Gates USAID and all other partners who participated in bringing these varieties to fruition.”

The Executive Director, AATF, Dr Canisius Kanangire, pointed out that the TELA maize varieties launch is a testament to the commitment by AATF and the Federal Government of Nigeria towards bringing advanced, resilient crop varieties to farmers, which are drought-tolerant and resistant to the devastating fall army worm and stem borer pests, which have plagued maize crops across the continent.

Kanangire emphasized that the TELA maize varieties will boost maize yields, providing more food and income for farmers in Nigeria while reducing pesticide use, which lowers the cost of production, making farming more profitable and sustainable.

He added that the launch is not just about introducing new maize varieties, but heralds a new era for agricultural innovation and resilience in Nigeria and Africa.

Meanwhile, the Chairman, AATF Board of Trustees, Prof. Aggrey Ambali, described the commercial release of TELA maize in Nigeria as a beacon of hope and a model of excellence for other African countries, because it demonstrates a strong commitment towards adopting science – based solutions that drive growth and sustainability, which is essential for overcoming the hurdles posed by climate change, population growth and resource constraints.

Ambali also acknowledged that Nigeria has consistently demonstrated a forward-thinking approach to agriculture, recognizing the critical role that innovative technologies play in transforming the sector.

“The approval and introduction of TELA maize and other biotech crops are clear indicators of this progressive mindset, by embracing these advancement, Nigeria is not only enhancing its own food security but also setting a powerful example for other African nations to follow.

“The TELA maize variety, with its remarkable yield potential of up to 10 tons per hectare compared to the current average of 3 tons per hectare represents a groundbreaking development in our collective efforts to boost Nigeria’s agricultural productivity”, he said.