Scientists working on maize research have demonstrated the ability of local farmers to double maize yield in Nigeria from 1.5 tons per hectare to 3 tons per hectare using improved seeds and agronomic practices.
Pastor O.A Adenola, President, Maize Association of Nigeria, in an interview, says farmers in the project harvested about 3 tons per hectare of maize.
“The good news is that doubling maize production in Nigeria is practicable. The research also proved that we can be better farmers and make more money if we use appropriate technologies,” he says.
Scientists say results from the two and a half-year project, which was funded by Nigeria's Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development and started in 2006 indicated that Nigeria can double her current maize production of about 7 million tons to 14 million tons.
The research, which involved thousands of local farmers under the auspices of the Maize Association of Nigeria, was a collaborative work by a coalition of scientists at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Institute of Agricultural Research & Training (IAR&T), National Rice/Maize Center -National Accelerated Food Production Program, Institute for Agricultural Research, National Cereals Research Institute; the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS).
Dr. Oyewole Ajala, IITA's Maize Breeder and Project Leader, says the research achieved the results after deploying maize varieties that were tolerant of low nitrogen, drought, and Striga.
“Other maize varieties given to farmers during the course of the project were stemborer-resistant and early maturing varieties,” he says.
During the research period, planting materials were distributed to farmers based on the climatic conditions in the different agroecological zones, while farmers were trained and encouraged to optimize the use of inputs.
“The project established that Nigeria could double maize production from 7.1 million tons to 14 million tons per annum if our recommendations are implemented,” Ajala says.
Findings from the project support the need for the Nigerian government to set aside money to mop up excess maize to avoid a price crash in the future.
Ajala says, “A guaranteed minimum price to be set by the government is required to keep farmers on the farm.”
Available data indicate that between 2006 and 2007, maize varieties released by IITA and partners boosted production but the absence of an effective mop-up mechanism led to price fluctuations.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Nigeria's maize production during the period rose from 7.1 million tons in 2006 to 7.8 million tons in 2007.
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