The Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, has started research into the development of maize varieties that can withstand flood and remain in waters for up to 14 days.
Professor Muhammad Ishiyaku, the Director of the institute, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Zaria on Sunday that the institute had started the first phase of the experiment.
He said that when the institute must have identified the flood endurance of those selected lines, then it would use them in its breeding programmes.
“That will take a while before we can be able to say here are the potential variants of maize seeds which are resistant to flood,’’ he said.
Ishiyaku said that one of the fundamental focus areas of genetic improvement programmes of the institute is to develop crop that could withstand drought and flood.
According to him, climate change is an undeniable natural phenomenon.
He said that the development of the flood resistant maize variety would help to ameliorate the effect of flood on farmers’ investments.
The director said that toward the end of 2020, the institute released six improved varieties of maize as well as multiplied and released new improved varieties of cowpea for some seed companies to start marketing.
“The target is food security”
He said that the release of these improved varieties were geared toward strengthening food security in the country in face of the global public health and security challenges in some parts of Nigeria.
He added that the improved seeds were high yielding; the maize provided eight tons per hectare whereas the previous seeds were providing between five and six tons per hectare.
He added that the varieties were drought and insects’ resistant.
Ishiyaku said that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture was engaging the institute to produce enough cotton seed so that farmers would get adequate seeds for wider hectares.
He lamented the swindling of the farmers producing cotton in the country over the previous years.
He said that this was due to lower demand for the commodity by the textile industries and unattractive international prices being offered them.
“With the new policy from the Federal Government, the production of cotton will increase by between 40 per cent and 80 per cent in Nigeria, when the government efforts on cotton are sustained over time.
“What always disrupts cotton production is that the commodity is not a food crop which people can consume; the commodity has only one area of utilisation which is the textile industry.
“Once the uptake is interfered with, then it will affect the production when uptake rises up it will then take another ripple of circles before the production responds to that demand.
“This is the unfortunate situation we have found ourselves; supply of cotton has been disrupted due to the glut around 1997 and many farmers went off cotton production,’’ he said.
He noted that there has been a reawakening in the demand for cotton in the textile industry adding that with right incentives, farmers would wake up and respond to the demand.
He added that the institute had the skills for farmers and improved varieties that could grow well in every part of the country.
The director said that IAR had developed 13 different varieties of cotton seeds that could grow in different regions of the country.