By; SANI ALIYU, Zaria
The TELA Maize Project of Institute for Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU)Zaria has sought the support of traditional and religious leaders, other key stakeholders on its genetically improved maize variety that is resistant to drought and stem bora.
Prof. Rabiu Adamu, Principal Investigator of the Project made the appeal during a tour of TELA Maize Confined Field Trial (CFT) at Institute for Agricultural Research Farm on Thursday in Zaria.
He said the activities were organized for the religious leaders, traditional rulers farmers and media to enable them see what the project was doing to boost the production under TELA Maize Project in Nigeria.
The Principal Investigator noted that maize production faces challenges of pests such as stem bora and cessation of rain.
To address the challenges, Adamu said the project decided to come-up with a maize variety that is drought-tolerant and insect pest protect maize available and affordable to small farmers in the country.
Adamu said the drought-tolerant and insect pest protected maize variety will help produce more reliable harvest and better grain quality due to reduced insect damage for smallholder farmers.
Earlier, Prof Muhammad-Faguji Ishiyaku, Executive Director, Institute For Agricultural Research said there are diseases and pests of crops plants for which cannot be treated except with the use of harmful insecticides.
“I.A.R just like the Federal Government of Nigeria believes in the potentials of modern science called biotechnology through genetic engineering to address these challenges,’’ he said.
Ishiyaku said IAR has committed scientists, facilities and laboratories to see that Nigerian farming problems are curtailed through the deployment of this modern science.
“Along this line, the institute has developed TELA Maize variety that is resistant to insect and drought
“This Bio-Science or Biotechnology Engineering has been associated in some quarters by some people who don’t know science well; that biotechnology products cause cancer.
“This is unfounded and no scientific evidence has indicated or associated the products of this science with any cancer; any disease or health disruptions whatsoever,’’ he said.
While speaking on behalf of Islamic religious leaders, Sheikh Muhammad Bn-Othman commended the Institute for its efforts to enhance food security in the country.
He also appealed to government to invest more in agricultural research activities and strengthen security.
Ven. Michael Adogbo, who represented Archbishop Ali-Buba Lamido of Diocese of Wusasa (Anglican Communion) also re-echoed the need for enhanced security to enable the farmers return to their farms.