The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has embarked on some researches to produce drought-tolerant maize to boost agriculture in the country.

Dr Sylvestro Meseka, a maize breeder at the institute, made this known on Thursday when he addressed a group of scientists who visited the institute’s research farm in Ikenne, Ogun.

Meseka said that the development of the variety was imperative because of the effects of climate change.

He said that the new maize seeds had the capacity to resist and withstand any form of drought that could plague the country.

“We are developing a maize variety that would be good for farmers in the marginal rain areas, particularly in the northern parts of Nigeria where the rain pattern is too short. So, you need to have some of these varieties there.

“We should not forget the fact that due to climate change, the rainfall pattern has changed; we are looking for more varieties that are not only drought-tolerant but also tolerant to heat stress,’’ he said.

Meseka said that the experiment was being conducted; using the irrigation system of farming, adding that the seeds would only be watered for 28 days and left to germinate.

He stressed that apart from its resistance to drought, the new maize variety was also resistant to diseases such as stem borer disease.

He said that crops that were able to survive and produce significant yield would be selected and multiplied for further distribution to seed companies.

Besides, Meseka said the institute would develop flood-resistant crops that could withstand flood, since floods had now become incessant because of climate change and rainfall patterns.

On the various varieties of seeds developed and released so far, the breeder said that 370 varieties had been released this year, in collaboration with the institute’s international and local partners.

He said that “Hybrid and Open-pollinated varieties’’ were some of the new seed varieties that were released.

Meseka said that the “Pro-Vitamin A’’ variety was also one of the varieties released this year to help nourish the human body.

“So many varieties have been identified, screened and released.

“370 varieties have been released this year alone; some of them are the `Hybrid and Open-pollinated varieties’ that have been tested together with our partners.

“Among the varieties released this year is the `Pro-Vitamin A variety’ which, if eaten, would increase the level of Vitamin A in the human body.

“This is because we found out from our survey that there is a glaring deficiency of these micro-nutrients in so many areas and it is a consequence of poverty,’’ he added.

IITA is one of the world’s leading research institutes which are striving to find pragmatic solutions to the problems of hunger, malnutrition and poverty in Africa.

The institute is also working to enhance crop quality and productivity, while reducing the risks facing producers and consumers and generating wealth for those involved in agribusiness.

Source: (NAN)

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