The release of improved maize varieties by the Nigerian National Variety Release Committee has given a much needed boost to farmers in West and Central Africa.
The varieties were developed by IITA in partnership with the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) of the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria and the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T) of Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile Ife, Nigeria.
Researchers at these institutes have created types of maize that can withstand drought, low soil fertility, pests, diseases and parasitic weeds, through tapping the naturally available traits during conventional plant breeding.
The release of these improved varieties has sparked renewed optimism for maize farming in the region. It is hoped that they will improve maize production by increasing yields thus raising farmer’s incomes and improving food security overall.
Maize and other grains for sale
at a Farmer's market in Nigeria.
Abebe Menkir, an IITA maize breeder, said: “These varieties have the potential to provide farmers with opportunities to overcome the challenges to maize production in West and Central Africa.”