PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari recent reaffirmations to the nation that developing the agriculture sector and ensuring food security in the country remained the topmost in the agenda of his administration is coming to fruition. The president has said severally that the Federal Government’s efforts at diversifying the nation’s economy would begin in the agricultural sector, indeed the agricultural sector is setting the pace in seed development .
The National President of Maize Association of Nigeria(MAAN) Dr Tunji Adenola in a recent interview had actual disclosed that he is involved in looking at the nation capacity, potential, achievements in the Maize produce sector alongside his colleagues in research system in and outside Nigeria including IITA and CIMMYT. He also told Nigerians that Maize is the no 1 arable crops in Nigeria and it plays the role of food crop, feed and cash crop.
With 10 million metric tons produced last year and at the Government approved guarantee minimum price of N50,000.00 per ton made maize worth (N500b) Five Hundred Billion Naira last year. More so, Adenola disclosed that the immediate target of Maize farmers nationally is 14 million metric tons and to meet this ,there are short/medium term as production inputs must be available, high quality seed, high quality Fertilizer, cheap farm mechanisation machineries, peace and favourable weather. The projection by the last administration is for Nigeria to attain 20 million metric tons by 2020.
In these regards the Director-General of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Ibadan, Prof. James Adediran, has recently disclosed that the institute has developed Quality Protein Maize varieties containing 4.015g lysine/100g of protein against 2.96g/100g of protein for normal maize during the Research Extension Farmers Input Linkage System (REFILS) South-West workshop in Ibadan.
Adediran said the institute’s primary goal is to ensure self-sufficiency in food and industrial raw materials production within a reasonable time, adding that the institute developed and released green maize varieties (AR-SWT-1, 2, 3), with moderate cob size, vitamin A, good taste and disease tolerant.
The Professor also revealed that IAR&T developed yellow composite popcorn varieties: Corn-pop-co, Corn-pop-C1, and Corn-pop-C2, which have yield increase of about 29 per cent over the existing varieties, yielding above 2.5 tons per hectare, yellow seeded and have high popping quality. He explained that the popcorn varieties have been classified into late, medium and early maturing genotypes; stem-borer resistant varieties have been developed and available for farmers. He added that six striga resistant maize hybrids are also among the new varieties developed amongst many others.
The IAR&T DG during the workshop told participants that Ife Ken 400 has been released to farmers as a variety good for core, fibre and seed on industrial crop based technology, adding that on grain legume based technology, varieties of cowpea developed includes: Ife brown, Ife BPC, MOD and Ife 98 to 12 among others.
He explained further that 40 food recipes from soya bean, cereals either sole or in combination with other locally grown agricultural crops like cassava, cocoyam was also developed by the institute for product development based technologies. He further explained that the institute also identified nutritionally safe, locally available coagulants such as alum, bombom stem extract, ogi steep water (omidun), lime juice in soya cheese preparation.
Adediran further disclosed that their scientists in collaboration with others in the zone conducted diagnostic survey for the Agricultural Development Projects (ADP) to identify production constraints of farmers, adding that proven technologies to remove such constraints from time to time have been proffered and made known to farmers and he assured that the institute under his management would always be ready to do everything possible to assist to achieve the set goal.