THERE is a problem of drought which we are familiar with. There is a problem of insect pest as well.
What normally happens is that when there is drought, the insect attack also increases. Africa as a continent is regarded as a drought-prone continent because three out of the global drought events have taken place in Africa. Then, we also have the problem of insect pests. The insect called stem borer has been there with us, and we have been managing it.
But unfortunately, a new pest came out in 2016 and it is called Fall Armyworm. It is devastating maize all over Africa. For example, within a year of arriving in Africa from America, it devastated maize to the tune of $2.6 billion of maize harvest in 12 countries. In Nigeria, the study by FAO showed that from 2016 to 2017, $270 million worth of food
crop was consumed in Abia, Ekiti, Oyo and Ondo States. Imagine $270 million worth of crops consumed by this pest within a year! So people are saying if Africa doesn’t take action, Africa is going to lose 20 million metric tonnes of maize, enough to feed 100 million people. This means half of our population will suffer starvation and food deficiency. Knowing how important maize is in Africa, it is a big threat to food security.
Now that we all know it is a big threat, do we fold our arms and start importing food or look for a solution to this problem? In AATF, we have chosen to get the solution to help our farmers. So, in getting that solution, we have found maize variety that has been genetically modified to have in-built protection against this pest. So, the project I am coordinating here is a TELA maize project. It is a public-private partnership project that is addressing the problem of developing maize that is tolerant to drought and at the same time has protection against the pest called Fall Armyworm.
Source: Nigeria Tribune