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Nigeria’s FG Launches Bill Gates-Funded GMO Maize Variety, Names It TELA Maize

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Nigeria's FG Launches Bill Gates-Funded GMO Seeds, Names It TELA Maize Variety
Image Credit: BABBAN GONA FARMER SERVICES NIGERIA LIMITED

Nigeria’s federal government has launched the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) maize variety named TELA, stating it is an effort to strengthen and boost maize production in the country.

The TELA Maize was registered and released at the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR) at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in collaboration with the African Agriculture Technology Foundation (AATF), funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other partners.

At the launch in Abuja, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said the government will only do things that will promote the citizens’ welfare, health, and security.

It is significant for us to realise that the technology we are talking about today is Nigeria-driven, and whatever concerns that Nigerians are expressing are not unfounded. There is no technology that has come anew and does not receive pushback. It is normal,” he added.

In a corroborative tone, the Chairman of the African Agriculture Technology Foundation (AATF) Board of Trustees, Professor Aggrey Ambali, said Nigeria’s newly launched TELA maize variety will bridge the country’s annual maize production deficit.

Developing and commercialising this transgenic maize variety, Nigeria’s journey to food security and better livelihood for farmers is achievable,” he said.

In addition, Professor Ambali stated that the TELA Maize variety, with its remarkable yield potential of up to 10 tons per hectare compared to the current average of three tons per hectare, represents a groundbreaking development in the collective effort to boost Nigeria’s agricultural productivity.

The TELA maize launch was presented as a new technology-driven approach to farming and food production. According to Prof Ambali, the new maize variety, which incorporates resilience against drought and pests, is a testament to the power of biotechnology in addressing some of the most pressing challenges in agriculture, such as Fall Army Worm (FAW) pest.

The Executive Director of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Dr Canisius Kanangire, commended the Nigerian government for supporting the project.

We witnessed government bodies working with institutions such as AATF and the private sector for the country’s good,” he said.

Nigeria became the second African country to approve GMO Maize for commercial planting in February 2024, following Bill Gates’s April 2024 meeting in Riyadh with President Bola Tinubu on the need to adopt GMO seeds.

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