IAR laments N268b yearly chemical imports, vouches for TELA maize
Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria, Kaduna State, has decried high cost of agro-chemicals in the country, saying Nigerians spend N268 billion yearly to purchase the chemicals.
The Executive Director of IAR, Prof. Mohammed Ishiyaku, said this at a media briefing in Abuja, saying the TELA maize varieties, when adopted by just 10 per cent of Nigerian farmers, would give additional cost benefit of N58 billion yearly to the country because of the yield advantage of 19 per cent compared to conventional maize varieties currently grown by farmers.
He said: “The choice of technologies to use rests with the farmers. However, based on the mandate given to us by the government, it is our obligation to develop those technology options with potential high economic and food security benefits to farmers and our country.
“TELA maize varieties are genetically modified to tolerate mild drought and to self-protect against certain insect pests, especially stem borer and Fall Armyworm (FAW). Adopting those technologies is a responsibility left to farmers who are smart and know what is good for them once they see it.
“In addition to drought, insect-pests, especially the recent outbreak of the invasive FAW, are big threats to maize production in Africa with an estimated yearly yield loss worth $2.48 to 6.19 billion in 12 countries, including Nigeria.
“FAW poses significant risk to 12.5 million hectares of maize farms in Nigeria. What could be a better technological intervention that is safe for the environment, human health and the local economy to curb these major threats to maize production in Nigeria than the opportunity presented by TELA maize varieties?’’
Executive Secretary, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), Prof. Garuba Sharubutu, said all agricultural researches in the country were tailored towards achieving Federal Government policies and programmes on food security and sufficiency.
Nigerians have no reasons to be afraid of any product from any of the government-funded research institute, he added, as all necessary measures were taken to ensure they followed approved regulations guiding such research.
Ishiyaku said TELA maize had been under cultivation in South Africa by smallholder farmers since 2016.
“Farmers are already benefiting from the varieties in protecting against the target pests, especially FAW. It is safe and hence, Nigerian farmers should also benefit.”
He said with the recent approval given by the National Biosafety Management Agency, TELA maize varieties would be evaluated by farmers across the maize growing regions in the country for them to select.