By Godwin Aster(Communication Officer,WCA-IITA)
Nigeria has released two extra-early maturing maize hybrids with combined resistance/tolerance to Striga, drought, and low soil-nitrogen.
The extra-early hybrids, originally known as IITA Hybrid EEWH-21 and IITA Hybrid EEWH-26, are now designated Ife Maizehyb-5 and Ife Maizehyb-6. They were developed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and tested extensively in Nigeria in partnership with the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T) through the funding support of the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) Project.
Other collaborating institutions involved in the testing include the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), the University of Ilorin (UNIILORIN), the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID), and the National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB). The DTMA Project is executed by CIMMYT and IITA in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Both extra-early hybrids have desirable grain cooking characteristics and outstanding yield and stability across environments in Nigeria ravaged by drought, Striga, and low soil-nitrogen. The potential yield of Ife Maizehyb-5 in Nigeria is 6.0 t/ha and Ife Maizehyb-6 yields 5.5 t/ha. Local varieties yield about 1.5 t/ha.
Hybrid development and promotion is a promising strategy to appreciably increase maize production and productivity and to revolutionize agriculture in West and Central Africa (WCA).
“Seed companies and farmers in WCA have been asking for stress tolerant extra-early hybrids to reduce the instability of maize yields, especially in the savannas, as well as during the second season in the forest agroecological zone,” according to Dr Baffour Badu-Apraku, IITA Maize Breeder, who is also a member of the team that developed the hybrids.
Other researchers in the team are Drs S.A. Olakojo, G. Olaoye, M. Oyekunle, M.A.B. Fakorede, B.A. Ogunbodede, and S.E. Aladele.
This is the first report on the release of extra-early hybrids with combined resistance to Striga and with genes that confer tolerance to low soil-nitrogen and to drought stress at the most drought-sensitive stages (flowering and grain-filling periods).
“The release of the two extra-early hybrids should contribute to a significant reduction in the instability of maize yields in Nigeria as well as in other countries of WCA,” Badu-Apraku added. The adoption and commercialization of these extra-early hybrids released in Nigeria and of others presently in the pipeline for release in Ghana, Mali, and Bénin should contribute significantly to food security and lead to improved incomes and livelihoods for farmers in WCA