FG leverages biotechnology to ensure food security with Tela maize

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FG leverages biotechnology to ensure food security with Tela maize

The Federal Government says it is leveraging biotechnology to ensure food security in the country, adding that it is working with agricultural scientists at the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) to improve Tela maize production in Nigeria.

Dr Rufus Ebegba, Director-General, National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) made this known on Friday in Abuja during the public presentation of the drought tolerant and fall armyworm resistance maize called Tela maize.

The Tela maize project is a public-private partnership project which aims at the commercialisation of transgenic drought-tolerant and insect protected maize varieties to enhance food security in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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Ebegba explained that Tela maize has been genetically modified, stacked with two purposes for drought tolerance and insect resistance, adding that less chemicals were used in the deployment of the product.

He further explained that in the past months, NBMA constituted biosafety committee and biosafety sub-technical committee  to have in-depth review of the product.

“We looked at it to ensure that the product does not have any negative impact on the conservation and sustainable use of biological use diversity.

“Also, the institute has applied for a release permit in line with NBMA Act,’’ he said.

The Director-General said that the agency had adopted the environmental release procedure to watch the maize performance as it would to be planted in the environment and be use for consumption and other processes.

“Every product that is released for commercial purpose must meet required biosafety standards, which include compatibility and sustainability to the environment.

“It must also meet safety standard in the area of human health and economy. The agency has applied these parameters in the past months.

“This presentation is for the applicant to further convince the public and the agency that the application it submitted met all requirements that the product can be considered for approval.

“ The agency will not hesitate to withdraw the permit from the applicant if it finds any issue with the product in the future,’’ he added.

Prof. Mohammed Ishiyaku, Executive Director, IAR, assured farmers of the product’s safety, adding that it has been scientifically proven in a number of experiments including field experiment.

Ishiyaku said the institute was planning to release the product for commercialisation in 2022.

“We have finished with the laboratory stage and have now taken it to the field for it to experience the real condition for farmers to grown it.

“ We have tested the product for two years and we are convinced that the outcome was as expected and would be highly beneficial to the Nigeria farmers.

“Chemical will not be used to grow the maize and the variety can grown anywhere in the country,’’ he said.

Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, Director-General, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) in his remarks said the future of agriculture is biotechnology, noting that Tela maize would mitigate drought and insect resistance on maize.

Mustapha stated that the Tela maize project was very important because the technique provided solution towards solving the problem caused by drought.

He encouraged the farmers to accept the technology and improve the production of maize in the country.

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