…Produces 10m Metric Tonnes Per Annum
A Scientist with the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR/ABU)Zaria, Dr. Muhyiddeen Oyekunle has stated that biotechnology remains a strong investment for African farmers.
He said that conventional plant breeding has been ongoing for hundreds of years and is still commonly used.
Oyekunle made this known while presenting paper on Conventional Maize Breeding at the Capacity Building Training for Nigerian journalists on TELA maize.
The Scientist said as data shows globally, for each dollar invested in Biotech crop seeds, more than threefold return of approximately $3.5m was attained.
According to him, farmers discovered that some crop plants could be artificially meted or cross-pollinated to increase yields.
He said that conventional breeding achieves it by crossing together plants with relevant characteristics and selecting the offspring with the desired combinations of genes inherited from the two parents,
“Biotechnology is the application of scientific techniques to modify and improve plants, animals and micro-organisms to enhance their value”.
Oyekunle said the application of biotechnology to agriculturally important crop species has traditionally involved the use of selective breeding to bring about an exchange of genetic materials between two parent plants to produce offspring having desired traits such as increased yield, disease resistance and enhance production.
“Also, the challenges such as drought, pest infestation and climate change which the conventional maize breeding cannot easily address, scientists take advantage of biotechnology to embark on TELA maize research.
The scientist said that conventional maize breeding involves multi location and field trials taking between two to three years to complete.
” From 2014 to 2019 maize hybrid varieties using conventional breeding has been released”.
He said currently, Nigeria is the largest maize producer in Africa, producing 10m metric tonnes per annum with South Africa following its engagement on biotechnology.