Chief Uche Nnaji, Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology
The Federal Government has officially approved the commercial release and open cultivation of transgenic insect-resistant and drought-tolerant maize variety, known as TELA Maize, along with other high-yielding crop varieties.
Chief Uche Nnaji, Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology, disclosed this at a news conference in Abuja on Tuesday.
The minister said the commercial release of the crops was a remarkable step at enhancing agricultural productivity to ensure food sufficiency in Nigeria.
“It exemplifies our commitment to harnessing the power of biotechnology in addressing pressing agricultural challenges, enhancing crop resilience, and improving the livelihood of our farmers and citizens.
“It also strengthens our position in the global agricultural landscape, fostering economic stability and opening new avenues for trade and export,” the minister said.
Nnaji noted that the benefits of the release were far-reaching, promising increased crop yields, enhanced resilience to pests and diseases, reduced environmental impact and improved nutrition content.
He urged all stakeholders, including farmers, extension workers, and private sector partners, to embrace the new crop varieties for a more prosperous, sustainable and food secure future for Nigeria.
He also added that the efforts by the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) were pivotal in advancing the agricultural sector as well as innovative scientists, researchers, experts, institutions and foreign collaborators.
Prof Abdullahi Mustapha, Director General of NABDA, remarked that the agency would not renege on its commitment at utilising biotechnology in tackling the diverse socioeconomic challenges that impede sustainable national development.
He said in this way, NABDA was positioned to contribute to the economic growth of the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the TELA Maize project is a product of modern agricultural biotechnology.
The product was developed by the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR) in partnership with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).
Experts said the cultivation of the transgenic maize seed would yield up to 10 tons per hectare, against the six tons by ordinary hybrid, and would lead to bountiful harvest.
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