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Why we introduced GM maize to farmers, by agric experts

By  Cornelius Essen, Abuja
11 October 2021   |   3:25 am
Experts have called on smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa to adopt genetically modified maize, saying its introduction is capable of boosting food production.

GMO maize. PHOTO: euobserver.com

Experts have called on smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa to adopt genetically modified maize, saying its introduction is capable of boosting food production.

Maize is a multipurpose crop serving as a whole-grain food for humans, industrial raw material for food processors and number one energy-source ingredient in animal feeds in the country.

They spoke at a public presentation of some improved varieties in Abuja, saying the conventional maize varieties showed low yields, and adopting ‘Tela maize hybrid technology’ would make it possible for farmers to produce more food to feed the people.

The Director-General, the National Biosafety Management Agency, Dr. Rufus Ebegba, said the genetically modified maize would go through scientific processes to ascertain its potency, safe standard for human consumption and agro-economic values.

Ebegba said: “Maize is one of the most widely grown and consumed cereal because of its wide adoption, ease of cultivation, processing, storage, transportation and income generation. It contributes to nutrition security, accounting for 20 per cent of calories and 16 per cent of national protein needs.”

Also, Prof. Ishaku Mohammed of the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria, Kaduna State, said the institute was partnering with international organisations to adopt genetic engineering to meet national and regional food needs.

Mohammed added: “We have developed crops like BT. Cotton, cowpea, groundnut, and now, we are presenting genetically modified maize to Nigerian farmers, and the government can leverage on science and technology to move the country out of its present state.”

Contributing, Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, of National Biotechnology Agency of Nigeria, explained that the Tela maize project was very important, noting that Nigerian farmers’ production challenges were solved by emerging technologies to address drought and pests.

According to him: “We are employing modern science to make changes in the world. We are using conventional methods to change the narratives in agriculture, and we still have more genetically modified crops underway. They will help us to achieve food security.”