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Nigeria faces threat of losing US$6b to maize diseases ­– IITA

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As at last February, the disease had been discovered in 22 states across the country, rendering many hectares of maize plantations malnourished, without maize buds for eventual harvest.

Nigeria’s annual turnover of US$6b from the maize industry is currently being threatened by an array of diseases, especially African army worm caterpillar ravaging farms across the country, and if not addressed might threaten national food security.

As at last February, the disease had been discovered in 22 states across the country, rendering many hectares of maize plantations malnourished, without maize buds for eventual harvest.

Research for Development Director, Western Africa, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Robert Asiedu, who disclosed this yesterday at a conference to herald the 50th anniversary of the institute scheduled for July 24, 2017, said IITA is coming up with a short –term solution of introducing chemicals to control the diseases, adding that in the long run, it has embarked on developing disease resistant maize to control the diseases completely.

Recently, IITA initiated breeding efforts to enhance the micronutrient content of maize varieties, to combat iron deficiency and vitamin A deficiency. Success has been made with the development of provitamin A maize that had been released to farmers.

Asiedu noted that Nigeria accounted for the a quarter of the institute’s total investment of US$150m for Africa yearly, noting that it is the biggest of all the countries in terms of expenditure, accounting for 70 of the total of over 200 scientists across the continent.


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