By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government has released a new rice variety known as FARO68 and 20 other crop varieties for farmers as part of efforts to make Nigeria attain food sufficiency.
Speaking on Thursday, Mr Oladosu Awoyemi, the Chairman of the National Varieties Release Committee (NVRC), at the 31st Meeting of the National Committee on Naming, Registration, and Release of Crop Varieties, Livestock Breed/Fisheries, revealed that the varieties were released to the farmers through his committee.
At the meeting attended by many agriculture experts, researchers, breeders, seed companies, and other relevant stakeholders, Mr 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 State.
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 the 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,” Mr Awoyemi said.
The NVRC chairman also announced the release of three new Sorghum varieties, namely SORGHUM 52; SORGHUM 53, and SORGHUM 54.
Mr 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 incognita; they contain good nutritional qualities and resistance to early blight”.
He said the varieties released were per with what was released in the US, Kenya, and other agricultural countries, adding that the exercise would make the agriculture sector not become stagnant.
Mr 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 veteran 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, Mr Abdullahi Mustapha, the Director-General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), said that release of the 21 crop varieties would contribute immensely to the development of crop sections for the overall development of the farming system in the country.
According to Mustapha, these new crop varieties, when farmers plant the seeds, will give them high and quality yields, resistance to diseases and drought, and free of other constraints. He encouraged farmers to ensure that they get the right seeds for planting.