Nigeria Launches Bill Gates-Funded GMO Maize Variety Named TELA Maize

Nigeria Launches GMO Maize Variety TELA to Boost Agricultural Productivity

by Ohepo Ohepo

Abuja, Nigeria – Nigeria’s federal government has officially launched the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) maize variety named TELA, marking a significant step towards enhancing maize production in the country.

The TELA Maize was developed through a collaborative effort between the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR) at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and the African Agriculture Technology Foundation (AATF), with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other partners.

During the launch event in Abuja, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Security, emphasized the government’s commitment to initiatives that promote citizens’ welfare, health, and security.

Professor Aggrey Ambali, Chairman of the AATF Board of Trustees, echoed these sentiments, highlighting that the TELA maize variety is poised to address Nigeria’s annual maize production deficit. He noted that the TELA Maize has an impressive yield potential of up to 10 tons per hectare, a significant increase from the current average of three tons per hectare.

The launch of TELA Maize signifies a new, technology-driven approach to farming and food production in Nigeria. Professor Ambali pointed out that the maize variety incorporates resilience against drought and pests, including the Fall Army Worm (FAW), demonstrating the power of biotechnology in overcoming major agricultural challenges.

Dr. Canisius Kanangire, the Executive Director of the AATF, praised the Nigerian government for its support of the project.

In February 2024, Nigeria became the second African country to approve GMO Maize for commercial planting, following a meeting between Bill Gates and President Bola Tinubu in April 2024, where the importance of adopting GMO seeds was discussed.

The introduction of TELA Maize represents a groundbreaking development in Nigeria’s agricultural sector, aiming to significantly boost maize production and contribute to the nation’s food security and economic stability.

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