As part of the efforts to make Nigeria food sufficiency in rice and other crop production, the Federal Government on Thursday, January 19, 2023, released a new rice variety, known as FARO68 and 20 other crop varieties for farmers.
Chief Oladosu Awoyemi, the Chairman, National Varieties Release Committee (NVRC), made this known on Thursday in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
Awoyemi said at the 31st Meeting of National Committee on Naming, Registration and Release of Crop Varieties, Livestock Breed/Fisheries that the varieties were released to the farmers through his committee.
The meeting was held at the Conference Hall, Secretariat of the National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB), Moore Plantation, Ibadan.
At the meeting attended by many agriculture experts, researchers, breeders, seed companies and other relevant stakeholders, Awoyemi said that a total of 25 crop varieties were submitted for registration, but 21 were approved and subsequently released.
He explained that the new rice variety was bred by the National Cereal Research Institute, Badeggi in Niger.
According to him, the lowland rice genotype is registered and released based on its early maturity and high grain yield.
“Other released crop varieties include: three new millet varieties with high iron and zinc content; high grain yield and presence of long bristles on panicle, namely LCIC MV5, LCIC MV6 and LCIC MV7.
“Yam variety: UMUDa35-Delight, UMUDr33-Blessing and UMUDr34-Sunshine. These yam varieties were released based on high yield, good boiling and pounding qualities.
“Six hybrid maize varieties, namely VSL 2201, PAC 740, SAMMAZ 69, SC 424, SC 555 and Oba Super 8.
“These new maize varieties were released based on high grain yield, tolerance to fall armyworm, to major foliar diseases, to multiple stresses, to striga, drought and low nitrogen, Awoyemi said.
The NVRC chairman also announced the release of three new Sorghum varieties, namely SORGHUM 52, SORGHUM 53 and SORGHUM 54.
Awoyemi said that the Sorghum varieties were released because of high yield and biomass; earliness; high Iron (fe) content and dwarfness and their tolerance to striga.
Five tomato varieties were also released during the meeting, these were HORTITOM 1, HORTITOM 2, HORTITOM 3, PS TOM 1 and PS TOM 2.
According to him, the committee released the tomato varieties based on their “tolerance to fusarium wilt, meloidogyne in cognita, they contain good nutritional qualities and resistance to early blight”.
He said the varieties released were per with what were released in U.S, Kenya and other agricultural countries, adding that the exercise would make agriculture sector not to become stagnant.
Awoyemi, who has been chairman of NVRC since 1991, used the opportunity of the meeting to announce his resignation from the committee due to old age.
The 88-year-old man urged agriculture stakeholders to continue to be dedicated to the development of Nigeria, “particularly in Agriculture, being the backbone of the nation’s economy.
“So, the frontiers of knowledge must continue to expand so that we come abreast with the developed world.”
In his remarks, Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, the Director-General, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), said that release of the 21 crop varieties would contribute immensely to the development of crop section for the overall development of farming system in the country.
According to Mustapha, these new crop varieties, when farmers planted the seeds will give them high and quality yields, resistance to diseases, drought and free of other constraints.
He encouraged farmers to ensure that they get the right seeds for planting.
On uniqueness of the new rice variety, Mr Mohammed Bashir, a Plant breeder, who specialised in rice breeding at National Cereal Research Institute, Badeggi in Niger, said that presentation of the new rice variety would contribute significantly to food security in the country.
Bashir said the FARO68 rice would give a better yield than the existing commercial varieties in the country.
He said that the new rice variety could give about 11.6 metric tonnes per hectare under good management by Nigerian farmers, better than the four to eight metric tonnes per hectare being given by the existing varieties.
As part of the success story this year, the Collaborative Seed Programme, a seed sector development program funded by the government of the Netherlands, achieved a remarkable success in piloting innovations that shortened the variety release process for tomatoes from two to three years to just one year.
Furthermore, the programme innovations facilitated the accelerated release of a maize variety that was previously only available in another ECOWAS country, as prescribed by the ECOWAS regional seed regulation harmonisation law.
These breakthroughs are a testament to the programme’s dedication to enhancing agricultural production and addressing the needs of farmers, thereby promoting food security and sustainable agricultural practices.
By David Adeoye